Location: Victoria, East Coast Demerara
Period/ Year Built: Established 1845, rebuilt early 2000s
Historical Background / Description:
Wilberforce Congregational Church is located on Middle Walk, Victoria, East Coast Demerara. The community of Victoria has the distinction of being the first village in the country to be bought by former slaves in 1839. The church was officially established in 1845 which makes it the oldest religious entity to be established by former slaves. The church was named after Mr. William Wilberforce, the abolitionist. During the initial days of the church, a school was associated with the entity since this was the norm with most congregational churches during that period.
Many believe that a two-storey timber building which was bought with the plantation initially housed the school on the first floor and the church on the ground floor. The school was closed in the early 20th century (circa 1920) due to the upper flat of the building being demolished as a result of termite infestation. From the late 20th century to the early 21st century, the church was renovated or reconstructed at least three (3) times with the latest being in the early 2000s.
Records indicate that the church by the mid-20th century was a single-storey “L-shaped” timber shingle building suspended mere centimetres (inches) off the ground with clay brick supporting columns. The church is oriented with its front façade facing west and its rear facing east. Today, the church stands as a single-storey, “T-shaped” concrete structure adapting the orientation of the building before it.