Following a Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) event to highlight the rich heritage of Cobbs Hill Methodist Church, the Department of Community & Cultural Affairs has launched an online bookable tour of the 200-year-old sanctuary.
Local bus operator Titan Express began offering its African Dispersion Cultural Tour February 1, as Black History Month launched in the US and a week after the BTA hosted a related Bermuda Culture & Heritage Dinner. At the 130-seat Restaurant Weeks 2020 headline event at Fourways Inn, the story of Bermuda’s African Diaspora history was woven into a four-course meal by visiting Top Chef star Eric Adjepong. Immediately before the sold-out dinner, guests walked a short tour of the nearby Warwick church, featuring Bermudian actors from the Troika production company. Through a live-action performance written by Claire-Ann Raynor of event planner Rose of Sharon, actors recounted the origin of the still-thriving site which history records as having been built mostly under moonlight by enslaved labour and free black Bermudians in the 1820s.
“As tourism industry developers, our goal is to inspire experiences that fill gaps in the visitor experience and stimulate spending,” said Glenn Jones, BTA Chief Experience Development Officer. “Cobbs Hill Methodist Church, Titan Express and the Department of Community & Cultural Affairs are filling a cultural-tourism gap with this offering. It is online bookable and easy to access.
“On the heels of our event with Cobbs Hill Methodist, we are delighted to have a new experience that gives visitors easy access to this part of Bermuda’s fascinating history.”
The $15 Titan Express tour runs on Saturdays throughout February and March. The Sally Bassett statue at the Cabinet Office and the pre-Emancipation graveyard at Warwick’s landmark rubber tree at Khyber Pass are also stops on the tour. In 2019, Titan Express offered a black-heritage tour of additional cultural sites.
“Bermuda has a rich and exciting heritage that we believe should be experienced by all visitors who travel to the island,” said Minister of Labour, Community Affairs & Sports Lovitta Foggo. “The legacy of Cobbs Hill Methodist Church forms a critical foundation of our history. The Department of Community & Cultural Affairs is pleased to join with the Bermuda Tourism Authority to raise awareness of our cultural offerings.”
In 2002, then-minister of tourism David Allen designated Cobbs Hill Methodist Church part of the African Diaspora Heritage Trail. However, visitors on a self-guided journey of the trail rarely see the inside of the church, nor hear the inspiring story of its history.
The new tour, along with an existing one by Bermuda Island Tours, allow visitors and residents a pay-for experience to become more engaged and better informed about a Bermuda cultural asset.
Nine current-day parishioners of the church attended last month’s Culture & Heritage Dinner as guests of the BTA, including descendants of the site’s enslaved builders.
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