The Cottle church was built during the twilight of slavery in the British West Indies.
Public agitation in England against the institution had been growing since the mid-18th century and in 1807 Parliament outlawed British involvement in the slave trade. The battle of Trafalgar two years earlier had given Britain dominance of the seaways and made it possible to enforce this prohibition.
But it was to be another 27 turbulent years before emancipation came to St Kitts and Nevis. The enslaved population of the islands expected that they would soon be set free while plantation owners, their agents and overseers, were still determined that the system should continue despite pressure from the British government. Slave revolts increased throughout the islands, punishments were severe.
Back in England the movement for complete abolition continued to grow, fed by eyewitness reports of conditions in the islands. In this struggle St Kitts and Nevis played a role out of all proportion to their size and importance in the Caribbean. Even before the end of the slave trade newspaper readers in England had been reading of specific acts of cruelty and injustice on the two islands written chiefly by two correspondents, James Ramsay a former naval surgeon and priest, and James Stephen a lawyer. To silence this unwanted publicity the planters forced them off the islands but not before their reports had inflamed the abolitionist cause. Public awareness of the issue was further heightened by the correspondence between James Tobin of Nevis and the abolitionist African Institution.
By 1812 the Church of England which had hitherto remained silent on the subject had become a protagonist. The Rev Daniel Davis a young priest who was born in St Kitts and had become an abolitionist while at Oxford decided to return to the island where he opened schools for slaves against strong resistance from local interests.
Between the two extremes of abolitionists and traditionalists stood the 'ameliorists': individuals who could not yet bring themselves to join the ranks of the outright abolitionists, but who had nevertheless begun to believe that slaves should be educated and converted to Christianity. Many of them detested slavery but foresaw that if it were to end suddenly its collapse would lead to social and economic disaster for everyone living in the islands. They looked forward to its eventual abolition and in the meantime wanted to educate their slaves and improve their conditions.
Thomas Cottle the owner of the Round Hill estate in Nevis was one of them.
“A lovely setting"
“Beautiful, peaceful location - quite emotional”
“Quiet and contemplative”
“First integrated church in the caribbean”
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More about The Cottle Church:
Key figures in the Church's history
Visiting the Church
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