Although it was granted the Royal designation of “Their Majesties Chappell” in 2012 by Her Majesty The Queen to celebrate its 400th anniversary, most Bermudians simply know this historic landmark as St. Peter’s Church. And while it has the distinction of being the oldest Anglican place of worship in the Western Hemisphere, the building is not the original church to stand on the site. Originally constructed in 1612, the first church was built by early colonists and constructed of cedar beams and palmetto leaves. Following a hurricane in 1712, that structure was almost completely destroyed, although some of its interior, including the original wooden altar, was incorporated into a new stone church, which was built in 1713. Since then, St. Peter’s has been restored many times, which is why architectural styles of the 17th-, 18th- and 19th centuries can be viewed throughout.

Inside, the church is brimming with history. Top sights: the three-decker wooden pulpit, which was hand-carved in 1660; a collection of fine Communion silver from the 1600’s that’s kept in the vestry; and a 1594 Geneva bible. Because its pews and exposed beams are made of Bermuda cedar, the church is also home to pleasant aromas wherever you may go. This also holds true for its historic graveyard—with flowering plants and lush trees, it’s has tombstones more than three centuries old (like the grave of Midshipman Richard Dale, an American who was the last victim of the War of 1812). The churchyard also holds the tombs of Gov. Sir Richard Sharples and his aide, Capt. Hugh Sayers, who were assassinated while strolling on the grounds of Government House in 1973. To the west is a separate churchyard for slaves and free blacks, a solemn reminder of the island’s ugly past.