Ackendown Great House
On the way back to Kingston, after a weekend hunting great houses in Hanover, we decided to track down Ackendown Castle which is supposed to be located across from the entrance of Whitehouse Sandals. Sure enough, we turned onto a road between two posts, headed up the hill and found the Ackendown Great House. The chain link gate was standing open so we parked our vehicle and headed toward the most obvious structure on the property, the great house. The house is abandoned, so I dutifully took pictures of the great house from all directions and even drew out a house plan.
The house appears to have had major modifications over the years. The original house was built (1750) prior to Archibald Campbell’s birth (1781-1833). It consisted of the back rooms on a square-cut stone and brick foundation that made up the original house. On top of this building appears to be wood and lime plaster construction (Spanish walling). It was connected by a paved courtyard to the kitchen outbuilding. It had a semi-circular stairs at the front of the house. The original roof was probably a gable roof that ran east and west. The back rooms which don’t have a basement are presently being used as a horse barn. More than a century ago (1878) Andrew Stephen Aguilar added a front wing with its separate east-west gable roof. This wing had a full basement made of cut stone and contains an oven on the east wall. Sydney Aguilar added east and west wings and converted the gable roofs into hip roofs (1920). Further additions were made at a later date to the rear on both the east and west (1950). Most of the wood flooring is missing, leaving the basement open to the second floor of the south addition. In the living room, the wall wood supports are exposed and painted brown, with white plaster between the boards. The house is painted white with brown louvered windows. There is a large porch with stone steps on the front forming an arch beneath the floor.
It is thought that John and James Guthrie owned the property between 1710 and 1757. The Guthries were an important historical family in Jamaica. Between 1757 and 1784 the property was owned by William Beckford. From there the ownership gets somewhat muddled but eventually the property ends up in the ownership of the Campbells who supposedly built the Ackendown Castle. From 1869 to 1878, R. F. Thomas was the owner and then from 1978 to recently it was owned by the Aguilar family.
There is evidence of numerous buildings scattered around the property, including several storerooms connected by a pimento barbeque (a flat area for drying pimento). This would indicate that at one time, the plantation was used to produce pimento. West of the house is the Negro house piece where mounds of the previous houses are still visible. The July 1837 plan shows 32 structures averaging 15 feet x 20 feet in size scattered over nine acres. The plan also shows the fourteen acre provision grounds where the slaves grew their own food.
The great house is easy to find, directly across from the Whitehouse Sandals Resort gate. I wonder how many people, staying at the resort know that such an interesting structure is within a short walking distance?
Ackendown Great House Photo Gallery