‘Death and his body-servant’: health, architecture and missionary endeavour at the Anelcauhat Mission House, Vanuatu
Remaining healthy was a major consideration for both indigenous and European peoples in the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu) during early contact. While local communities were often devastated by introduced disease, new missionaries sought practical ways to overcome the impact of tropical ailments that they considered to undermine the effectiveness of their activities. From the early 1850s onwards, Presbyterian missionaries in the southern New Hebrides began to construct ‘healthy’ homes, of which the surviving masonry mission house at Anelcauhat, Aneityum (1852-3) forms the earliest standing example. This paper draws on the results of both above- and in-ground archaeological recording to examine how the surviving structure reflects nineteenth-century ideas about illness and well-being before discussing the wider trajectory of such house construction, and associated matters connected with local communities, health and architecture that potentially impacted on missionary endeavour.