Dennery is one of ten parishes of the beautiful island of St. Lucia, located on the East Coast. On the South, the district bounds with Praslin and up North, the boundary is the lowest river right up to its source. On the West, it is the mountains which separate the district from the CUL- DE-SAC Valley and the quarter of Castries. Finally, on the East, the sea provides the boundary
The village of Dennery was originally called” Anse Canot” and then “Le Grand Mabouya” by the French. It was later named Dennery in 1768 again by the French, after having been visited by the Governor General of Windward Islands, Count D’ENNERY:-”
The bay which forms part of the coastal village used to be the only place where the produce of the district could be exported during the era of the plantation – slave economy and for a considerable length of time after emancipation. By the 1900’s, the situation was improved by the building of the “Goldsworthy Road” between Dennery and Castries.
The village can be described as semi-urban. It contains various Social amenities: a police station, community centre, multi-purpose centre, schools including the Clendon Mason Memorial Secondary School, two playing fields one for cricket the other for football and a multi-purpose court. A village council is responsible for the day to day running of the affairs of the village. There are also a number of clubs, groups and voluntary organizations and religious denominations which pursue a variety of sporting, cultural and religious activities.
One of the principal institutions which has contributed to the Social organizations and development of the village is the Roman Catholic Church. The village plays host to one of the oldest churches in the Country with the construction of the St. Peters Roman Catholic Church having started as early as 1789 and having been completed in 1841. In 1852, it was rebuilt and expanded to accommodate the growing Population. This church remains the pride and joy of the villagers.
Fishing and farming represent the greatest area of economic activity for its population of approximately three thousand four hundred and seventy (3470) persons. The village boasts of the highest fish catch per unit of effort (CPUE). DENNERY has now become the fishing paradise of” the island, with the hub of activity located on its “Daito Complex”- the recently constructed fish landing site jointly funded by the government of Japan and St. Lucia.
With a youthful, energetic and talented population, the village is poised for take off into a brilliant future.
Mabouya’ after the names of the most important bay and valley of the district. Later, it was named after the Count d’EnnerY who became the Governor of the Windward Islands’ in 1768.He had been the Governor of since 1766. He left his post in 1770.He eventually became the Governor of St Domingue where he died in 1776. .
I. WHEN WAS DENNERY MADE A QUARTER AND A PARISH?
It was certain that Dennery did not become a Quarter before 1763: there were only four in existence that year. But official documents of 1764 speak of 9 quarters :L’Anse Canot was probably one of them . The population increased slowly and the census of 1769 enumerates the population of the Quarter, then definitely called Dennery” as follows: 64 whites,9 free co1oured persons and 550 negros slave: in all 623 people. ‘Only 2 other Quarters had then a smaller population: Trou-Mace’ (Micoud) and Choiseul.
A map of 1770 shows the symbol of a Church by the sea-shore and a cross is said in the list of properties to indicate “La Cure”.
The figure 5 shows that the new Parish had already 5 carres of land in the village. The limits of the Parish were: to the north, the Louvet River and to the south, the Praslin River up to 1770 and the Galette River afterwards.
II. THE CLERGY IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE 18th CENTURY
According to a list of Priests in St.Lucia drawn by Abbe Per- reau in l765, there was no priest-in-charge (“desservant”) of”L’Anse
Canot et Maboya”. After giving the list Abbe Rennard(Histoire Religieu-se des Antilles Francaises,p.433) writes that this district “appeared to be ready to receive one”. There must have been one in or about 1768, when the Count d’Ennery made the present of a chalice to the Parish. It is a gilt chalice now kept at the Presbytery, Castries, on which the following Latin inscription can be read:
“Ex. Dona. Claro D.D. Vict. Ther. D’ENNERY. MARTINIC. & S. LUC. PRO. REGE. GUBERN. GEN. S. I .R. COM. PAR FUND.”
This inscription says plainly that the Count d’Ennery gave the Chalice when he was Governor General for the King of Martinique and St.Lucia. But the last letters and words(S.I.R. Com.Par.Fund.)have not. yet been fully interpreted they probably mean that he was the founder of the Parish.
As the Paris Registers have not been preserved before 1773,no precision can be given about the first years. In fact, the Registers still preserved in the “Ministere des Colonies” in Paris give us on1y the acts between 1773 and 1775 and between 1777 and l787.The folios of the Acts of Dennery, Praslin and Micoud have been bound together, as for many years, there was but one priest for the 3 parishes. Here are the names of the priests of that period:
1. ABBE FRANCOIS BERTHELET was Parish Priest of Dennery up to the beginning of 1773.Perhaps he was the first Parish Priest.From 1773 to 1775,Abbe Cavi1lon,Parish Priest of Micoud, was in charge of Dennery.
2. ABBE LAZARE MORISEAU, a secular priest from Correze, France, was Parish Priest in 1777.His conduct left much to be desired and, in May 1778, Frere Char1es François, Prefect Apostolic of the Franciscan Missions, withdrew his faculties, when he visited the parish. From May 1778 to September 1780,Abbe Cavillon resumed charge of the Parish. From November 1780 to 1782, Frere Louis Le Bugle, Parish Priest of Dauphin looked after Dennery.
3 . FRERE DIEUDONNE, A Capuchin, from St.Die’ Lorraine, France, took possession of the Parish on 14th September,1785,and remained there up to June 1887.He was also in charge of Praslin. The Parish of Dennery was suppressed by the Ordinance of January 1787. In fact this measure became effective in June of that year only Dennery was made part of the Praslin Parish. However it was re-established in October 1788.
4. FRERE VINCENT L’AINE, a Franciscan, was Parish Priest of Dennery in 1790. During the suppression of the parishes of Micoud and Dennery, He had been the Parish Priest of Praslin. In his inventory of 1884, Abbe Barreteau listed among the sacred vessels still in use in his time
a) Silver Monstrance on the foot of which an inscription. Read as follows: “Don des paroissiens du d’Hennery par les soins du R.p. Vincent.
b) A Silver Box with three silver cruets for the Holy Oi1s, on which there is the following inscription: “Don de M. Lorrain et Mme Rose Houpard son epouse . 25 Xbre..1789”.These inscriptions are interesting because they show that, at the very time when the French Revolution was setting/the Dennery people cared very much for their Church.
One must conclude however that Dennery was not privileged with the presence of resident priests for more than a few years between 1768(or about) and 1790. It was a Franciscan Parish from the beginning but it would seem that the Franciscans did not consider Dennery sufficiently important to have one of their few priests stationed there.
III. FIRST CHURCHES AND PRESBYTERIES,
It has been said above that there was a Church- most probably small wooden Chapel-by the sea-shore in 1770. It is worth-while noting what the Rev.Fr.Charles Frangois, Prefect Apostolic of the Franciscan Missions, wrote in the register when he visited the Parish on 31st May, 1778:”There is no Baptismal Font and monstrance in the Church. The Church is a poor hut (“mauvaise case”) without any safety, half covered and on a bad site”.He found it necessary to build a. new Church on a. better site. With regard to the residence of the priest, he said that it was nothing more than “part of a building made of local boards destined to be used as a kitchen; it was built on top of a hil1 too far away, from the Church, without any water or any other facility “(un bout de batiment en planches du pays destine pour servir de cuisine, situe sur le haut d’un morne trop eloigne de l’eglise,de lleau et de toute espece de secours)”. A Presbytery waS therefore also necessary. Both Church and Presbytery ought to be built, he continued, before he could make up his mind to appoint another Parish’ Priests .In consequence Abbe Cavillon was to look after Dennery up to such time as he might tink it proper to replace him. The 1770 map seems to prove that the Presbytery was built on the same hill as now, but a little further.
The situation did not improve in the following years, because, 1 of the state .of .war .between England and France and the hurricane of 1780. When Baron de Laborie passed through Dennery in or about 1784, he only found, he said; 3 or
4 huts (“mauvaises cases”) and no Church and no presbytery (Cf .Report to Marshal of Castries dated 13/10/1787).
When Frere Dieudonne took possession of the Parish in l785, there was a Parochial Assembly at which the following decisions were taken: the. Church… warden would have to rent a house for the Parish Priest in the village until such time as the Parish could afford to buy a Presbytery. He would have also to provide the priest with a good horse, fully harnessed (“un bon cheval enharnache”) and all necessary house furniture and equipment. He would have to repair the chapel to the satisfaction of the Parish Priest and obtain for his service at the expense of the “Fabrique” a first choice young negro of 18 or 20 years of age. The Parish Priest- Would have the enjoyment the parish land; but he would have to provide candles, altar breads and wine and see after the Altar linen.
It is likely that, as in the other parishes, a permanent Church was built in 1789 or 1790 at Dennery; it was a stone building on the site of the present infant school. It is likely also that it was the same church that was fully restored and blessed in 1841. What is said above about the sacred vessels given by the parishioners’ shows that people took an interest in their church in those days.