Originally built to serve the English Garrison, this is generally referred to as the English Church
church was originally built to service the English garrison based on
the island during the Napoleonic Wars, who wanted their own church.
Later it served the increasing English Community. Money was raised to
buy land near the British Cemetery
and to fund the building of a church. The building is completely
different to any of the other churches on Madeira, being a round church
inside a square neo-classical building.
It is uncertain whether this was a response to a Portuguese law that prohibited the building of a Protestant church that looked like a church or whether the architect, Henry Veitch, just preferred neo-classical designs.
The church was completed in 1822 and had a checkered history to begin with as chaplains came and went in direct proportion to the amount of pay being offered or withdrawn. The British Government withdrew support for the church in 1844. It is now founded by the English Community and regulated by a written constitution.
The church is tucked away down a side road away from the centre, and is not easily seen. You need to want to find it.
The neo-classical front is dominated by columns.
Entry is through a side door into the back of the south aisle which has a simple wood altar and reredos.
The nave is circular and pillars support a small balcony round the top of the walls.
There is a small Royal Coat of Arms above the door and on either side are panels with the Lordís Prayer, Ten Commandments and the Creed, which had to be displayed in all protestant churches when it was built.
Above is an elegant neo-classical dome.
The high altar is set in a small wood panelled apse with blue ceiling decorated with stars.
The church is set in a small walled garden with seats.
In a corner is a small war memorial.
In front of the parish centre is a statue of Queen Philippa who was the daughter of John of Gaunt and married the Portuguese King. She wielded significant influence in both the Portuguese and English courts, leading to the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance that is still in force today.
The church is still at the heart of the English speaking community and hosts regular musical performances in the church along with social afternoons and coffee mornings in the parish centre in the grounds
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