The church the people created
The English community in Puerto de la Cruz and cultural events : All Saint‘s Church as an example.
In Puerto de la Cruz, Anglican worship was established every Sunday at the home of Vice Consul Peter Reid who was a member of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland.
He provided a room which would take a limited number of people and had himself approved the presence of Protestant pastors in Puerto to perform the religious acts for the English community which had become established in the town and for visitors who came to the area.
In other places, such as the Sanatorium, worship continued to be held as in the Orotava Grand Hotel although there is evidence that even then, the search had started for bigger premises.
The year of 1887 saw the arrival in Puerto de la Cruz of the Rev. C. V. Goddard who was established from that date as chaplain.
From the moment of the formation of the Taoro Company in 1887, thoughts turned to the establishment of a church from where “could be included the full services provided by the hotel but also the spiritual satisfaction of the English residents.”
Finally in March of 1887, the Taoro Company designated free of charge a piece of land for the construction of an Anglican church.
After obtaining the land, as well as having a chaplain and having a growing English population in Puerto, these factors were able to determine the construction of a church.
In “November 1887, there was a visit to Puerto de la Cruz, as well as Las Palmas, of the Bishop of the Diocese of de Sierra Leone Ernest Graham Ingham, along with Rev. Adolphus Lindon of Madeira (later Archdeacon of the islands) and after various meetings with residents in Puerto de la Cruz, Peter S. Reid, Helen Smith, Colonel Hubbard and Miss Yeatman formed a committee for the church project.”
The first stone was laid on May 7th, 1890 in a ceremony that was conducted by the widow of Don. Charles Spencer. Walter F. Woods, who was then the architect, was also present at the ceremony. He was appointed architect for economic reasons although the original preliminary design was by the English architect Mr Franey.
The first stone was laid in memory of Walter Long Boreham because he had donated a large amount of money towards the construction of the church, something which his widow continued.
The church was to be of a very different construction to what the Canary Islands had become accustomed to. It was made with thick walls of rough masonry, with its exterior decorated with beautiful English tiles and a gabled roof.
The church was built in a Neo-Gothic style with elements of English rural architecture. “The pointed arch, el parletuz, the columns and the cornices, described as Gothic, are in reality like the traditional architecture of the Canaries. A touch of elegance is provided to the building by the mosaic floor, the fine wood of the interior and the multi-coloured stained glass windows with the Biblical themes, instructive for helping with religious acts.”
At the rear of the church is the pastor’s house whose architecture fortunately does not clash with that of the church as it maintains the neo-gothic style.
All Saints’ Church was a construction funded by money from English visitors, as well as foreign residents to Puerto de la Cruz, at a cost of around 2,000 pounds. The church building contains a number of elements which were special gifts (such as stained glass windows, baptism font, etc).
In the case of the pastor’s house, it was a similar story… “at a cost of around 1,200 pounds, it was a gift of the widow of Mr Boreham and other members of the same family.”
Today, All Saints’ Church is as much a meeting place for the English community as it is a place of worship.
The current chaplain is the Rev. Mike Smith who leads a series of activities, including services, special events, numerous social occasions, a regular car boot sale and much more. It has its own website and Facebook page. The church operates an “open door” policy for its Communions and welcomes people from across the world of all faiths.
A visit to this church will not disappoint as it is without doubt a marvellous place in a wonderful setting.
GONZÁLEZ LEMUS, Nicolás; HERNÁNDEZ PÉREZ, Melecio; SÁNCHEZ GARCÍA, Isidoro, Op. cit, p. 137.
HERNÁNDEZ GUTIÉRREZ, A. Sebastián. De la Quinta Roja al Hotel Taoro.
GONZÁLEZ LEMUS, Nicolás; HERNÁNDEZ PÉREZ, Melecio; SÁNCHEZ GARCÍA, Isidoro, Op. cit, p. 138.
All Saint. Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife, Gráficas Orotava, La Orotava, 1976
HERNÁNDEZ GUTIÉRREZ, A. Sebastián. Op. cit. p. 169
GONZÁLEZ LEMUS, Nicolás. Op.cit., p. 439.