Tag Archive | A3

Kenilworth Estate | Hanover Parish | Part 1

Bonita and I turned off the North Road at the blue and white sign pointing the way to Heart Northwest TVET Institute, a vocational institution. We followed the road until it ended at sign that stated, “Welcome, You Have Reached Kenilworth.” On the other side of the gate were the Kenilworth Sugar Mill ruins, some of the most impressive 18th century buildings in Jamaica. The institute has kept the grounds around the ruins beautifully trimmed. I walked up to the guard house and asked, “Can we visit the ruins?”

The guard replied, “I’ll have to check with my supervisor because the institute is closed for the Labor Day weekend.” A short time later, we were cleared to enter the grounds.

These ruins illustrate a high level of architectural design and construction during the time sugar was king. The mill house is an amazing structure and I thought at first it was a great house. It has a large semi-circular staircase at the front where the oxen driven wagons would have been unloaded and the cane carried up to a large room containing the rollers to squeeze out the juice. Behind the room, is a long narrow room that held the water wheel. An entrance for water from an aqueduct (long gone) above the mill is evident and an arched opening at the bottom of the mill would have allowed the water to flow back to the Maggotty River. A beautiful design feature of the mill building are the elliptical windows. Adjacent to the mill is a “U” shaped building with graceful arches, with both sides of the building mirroring each other. Various colors and types of stone are used throughout the building, highlighting the windows and doorways as well as the stone quoins (stones to provide strength to the corners). As with most ruins, trees and other plants were growing out of the interior and on the walls.

Kenilworth does not appear on the eighteenth century maps of Jamaica, as the property was originally known as Maggotty, likely named after the Maggotty River which runs through the property. The Estate is first mentioned in the Crop Accounts in 1757 as Maggotty and Top River Estates. It was then owned by John Blagrove, a minor; and produced 132 hogsheads (one hogshead=1,456-1792 pounds) of sugar, 43 puncheons (one puncheon=84 gallons) of rum and 50 casks (one cask=50 gallons) of molasses. The overseer at the time was Lachlan Shaw. By 1761, the Estate was listed as Maggotty (without the Top River). It then produced 159 hogsheads of sugar, 36 puncheons of rum and 53 casks of molasses. The Crop Accounts of 1810, records John Blagrove (no longer a minor) as the owner of the estate and the production of sugar had increased to 231 hogsheads. By 1819, production on the estate had fallen drastically. Production for the year ending December 31, 1819, was 89 hogsheads of sugar and 75 puncheons of rum. The overseer at the time was John Kindley. In 1833, Maggotty Estate was owned by the heirs of John Blagrove and was under the management of James Deanery, attorney. By 1833, production had decreased to 60 hogsheads, 15 tierces and 25 barrels of sugar, and two puncheons and four hogsheads of rum. The overseer was Peter Campbell.

The property eventually became known as Kenilworth; there is no record to explain the reason for the name change. The Return of Properties of 1882 record Kenilworth as comprising 2,560 acres, with 500 acres in common pasture and pimento and 2,060 acres in wood and other uses. The owners of the property were listed as the heirs of William Browne. By 1920, the property had increased to 2,963 acres; by then it was rented to tenants and used to cultivate coconuts. The registered owner of Kenilworth in 1938 was Ethel Browne; at that time, the property was put to banana and coconut cultivation.

Hanover Great Houses John BlagroveThe mill was constructed by John Blagrove the Younger. John Blagrove (1753-1824) was bequeathed Orange Valley and Unity estates in Jamaica, by his grandfather, John Blagrove senior. Blagrove senior had intended his other Jamaican estates, Pembroke, Maggotty and Cardiff Hall, to be inherited by his son Thomas. However, Thomas died (at the age of 21) before his will had been awarded probate and all the estates passed, in about 1756, to John Blagrove junior, who as a minor was placed under the guardianship of Colin Currie. Thomas Blagrove’s widow (John’s mother) Elizabeth later remarried and was known subsequently as Elizabeth Witter.

Cardiff Hall, Unity and Maggotty appear to have been sugar estates, but Pembroke and Orange Valley may also have been involved in stock rearing and crop production. John spent his childhood and early adulthood in England and was educated at Eton and Oxford. In 1777, after a ‘Grand Tour’ of the continent, John married Anne Shakespear. During this time the Jamaican estates were presumably managed on Blagrove’s behalf, possibly by Colin Currie.

Shortly after their marriage, John and Anne Blagrove left England to enable John to manage his Jamaican estates himself from his residence at Cardiff Hall. They appear to have stayed in Jamaica for the next 25 years or more (apart from a two-year period of residence in England between 1780 and 1782). They had four sons (none of whom outlived their father), John William, Henry, Charles and Peter, and four daughters, Eliza, Charlotte, Isabella and Anne.

In 1805, John Blagrove bought and rebuilt Ankerwycke House, Wraysbury, Buckinghamshire, and left Jamaica to settle there. A few years later, he bought Great Abshott House in Titchfield, Hampshire, but maintained his residence at Wraysbury as lord of the manor. In the Jamaica Almanac of 1818 he is listed as absentee landlord of Orange Valley, Unity, Pembroke, Maggotty, Cardiff Hall and Belle Air estates. Blagrove died in 1824 and his wife Anne died ten years later.

Traveling from Montego Bay, the directions to the Kenilworth sugar works are as follows: Take A1 (north road) out of Montego Bay toward Lucia; pass the Tryall Golf Club (stop by the Tryall sugar mill ruins along the side of the north highway if you have time-see my Tryall sugar mill ruins post); pass Sandy Bay; past the Chukka adventure area and on the west side of the Maggotty River bridge turn left at the road with the blue and white sign pointing toward Heart Trust NTA Kenilworth. Follow that road to the end and at the gate ask for permission to visit the ruins.

Hanover Great Houses Photo Gallery

Kenilworth Estate Location Map


Harmony Hall Great House

Harmony Hall Great House, Jamaica

Our Visit to the Harmony Hall Great House

Our trip to Harmony Hall Great House, one of Jamaica’s most beautiful buildings, was well worth it, if for no other reason than for a meal at the world famous Toscanini’s Restaurant, which is located on the first floor of the house. I had an excellent Rabbit Ragu with Pappardelle Pasta along with excellent pumpkin soup. My wife, Bonita, enjoyed Spaghetti with Shrimp Versailles as well as one of the best cups of coffee in her life.

The Harmony Hall Great House was built in the late 1850s on a plantation growing pimentos and limes. The plantation later shifted to bananas in 1910 and coconuts in 1938. Eventually, the house became the manse of a Methodist church and the home of Sir Hugh Sherlock when he served on the Methodist Ocho Rios circuit from 1937 – 1940. In 1962, Sherlock wrote the lyrics of the National Anthem: Jamaica, Land We Love (see lyrics below). The house then was sold to the Lobban family who lived there for nearly fifty years. It was sold in 1980 to Annabella Proudlock and became the Harmony Hall Art Gallery in 1981 with the excellent restaurant on the first floor.

The house was built in the Jamaican-Georgian style. The pastel pink walls and green roof is highlighted by an intricate white fretwork of gingerbread and a white balustrade along the upper balcony. The octagonal cupola on the northeast corner with lattice and fretwork completed the delightful, almost fairy tale appearance of the building. The interior is painted bright white and is light and airy, to show off a collection of local artists and craftsmen. The original detached kitchen is still visible but is no longer used as a kitchen.

Contact Information for the Harmony Hall Great House

It is located 6 kilometers east of Ocho Rios on A3. It is open from 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM Tuesday through Sunday.
Telephone: 876-975-4222.
Website: www.HarmonyHall.com.
Email: info@harmonyhall.com

Jamaica National Anthem | Lyrics by Sir Hugh Sherlock

Eternal Father bless our land,
Guard us with Thy Mighty Hand,
Keep us free from evil powers,
Be our light through countless hours.
To our Leaders, Great Defender,
Grant true wisdom from above.
Justice, Truth be ours forever,
Jamaica, Land we love.
Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica land we love.

Teach us true respect for all,
Stir response to duty’s call,
Strengthen us the weak to cherish,
Give us vision lest we perish.
Knowledge send us Heavenly Father,
Grant true wisdom from above.
Justice, Truth be ours forever,
Jamaica, Land we love.
Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica land we love.

Harmony Hall Great House Photo Gallery

Harmony Hall Great House Location Map


Brimmer Hall Great House

Brimmer Hall Great House, Jamaica

Our Visit to the Brimmer Hall Great House

Today Bonita and I toured a great house worth visiting if you want to experience a working plantation. We left our house in Kingston at 8:45 AM and after an hour and a half drive on winding roads due north on Highway B3 and later A3, we arrived at the Brimmer Hall Great House. The road off A3 is a bit tricky to find as are most places in Jamaica. In the town of Trinity about 10 kilometers south of Port Maria, we turned east at the Epping gas station, bearing left at the junction in Bailey’s Vale. We followed the road and after crossing a rock and concrete ford, turned left through the main gates.

Zachary Bayley owned Brimmer Hall, Trinity, Tryall, and Roslyn. These 4 contiguous plantations comprised 4,000 – 5,000 acres. It was one of the most profitable plantations in Jamaica because of the richness of its soil, the closeness to a port, and ample rainfall. It employed approximately 1,100 slaves, housed in barracks scattered over the acreage. He built the great house in the 18th century. The first and main source of income was sugar, which reached 1,450 hogsheads (1 hogshead = 1,600 pounds) of sugar in 1815. This later would be supplemented with cocoa nuts and bananas. The property was later sold to Brimmer, Linder, Vaughn, and finally to Ernest Smatt, who owns it today.

The house is a single story building with glass louver windows and cooler boxes. The structure has high ceilings, polished wooden floors and a wide verandah. The Great House is furnished with original pieces and boasts an exceptional collection of antiques with polished fittings. The floors, ceilings and windows are constructed of native hardwood skillfully hand constructed. There is a master bedroom with a private study and three other bedrooms, a living room and a modern kitchen added. The out-buildings consist of storage sheds, household servant’s quarters, two kitchens (one for the great house and one for the servants), stables, and a bar where the owner would entertain his male friends. The groom was required to saddle horses for his master and mistress every morning in the event they wanted to ride. If they decided they didn’t need a horse, he was told and he could then remove the saddle and other riding gear.

Michael Lawton, who is the general manager of the estate, remembers his father working on the estate when Major Douglas John Vaughn owned the property. The help never approached the great house and as a boy, if he ever got near the house, his father would have been fired. All field hands met the overseer at the bottom of the hill. He remembers when the owner rode through Bailey’s Vale; the people would rise and salute him as he passed. Every year end, the Vaughn’s would kill a bull and throw a big feast for the community.

Contact Information

A trip to Brimmer Hall is well recommended and the contact information is 876-994-2309 or 876-974-2244. It is open for tours Monday-Friday 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM.

The Hon. Benjamin Hume (1700-1773). Merchant, Planter and Politician in 18th Century Jamaica. He was a very wealthy Merchant in Kingston and was also a Member of Assembly for Port Royal in the House of Assembly of Jamaica from 1735 to 1736. He was made a Member of the Privy Council in 1745 and in 1746 he was appointed Receiver-General of Jamaica. However on the 27th of October, 1753, Hume was dismissed from that office and his seat in the Privy Council by the newly arrived British Governor, Admiral Sir Charles Knowles, after it was discovered that he had secretly “borrowed” over 20,0000 pounds sterling from the Public Treasury and was unable to pay it back. Hume was forced to declare bankruptcy and was publicly censured by the House of Assembly of Jamaica, but somehow managed to escape Trial and Punishment for this flagrant embezzlement. He had previously married a rich widow, Mrs. Elizabeth Halse, wife of the late Thomas Halse III (1699-1737) of Halse Hall Estate (see my Halse Hall post), a large Sugar Plantation in Clarendon, and he subsequently used her money to become the business partner of the Hon. Zachary Bayly, Custos of St. Mary. Hume went on to become a successful Sugar Planter and on his death in 1773 he left his entire fortune, which included two Sugar Plantations and a Cattle Estate in Jamaica, as well as hundreds of Slaves, to Bryan Edwards (1743-1800), the Historian, who was the favourite Nephew and Heir of his business partner, the Hon. Zachary Bayly, Custos of St. Mary. From an Oil Painting by an Unknown Artist, English School, c. 1760. Private Collection.
Mrs. Selina Edwards nee Bayly. Born in Westbury, Wiltshire, England. Sister of the Hon. Zachary Bayly (1721-1769), Custos of St. Mary, Sugar Planter and Proprietor of Trinity Estate, Tryall Estate, Roslyn Estate and Brimmer Hall Estate, St. Mary, Jamaica. Aunt of Bryan Edwards (1743-1800), Planter, Politician and Historian of 18th Century, Jamaica. Died in England. From an Oil Painting by an Unknown Artist. English School. Circle of John Hoppner, c. 1785. Private Collection.
Bryan Edwards (1743-1800). Planter, Politician and Historian of 18th Century Jamaica. He was born in Westbury, Wiltshire, England on the 21st of May, 1743, the eldest son of Bryan Edwards, Esq. and his wife, Elizabeth Bayly. In 1756, when Edwards was only 13 years old, his Father died leaving his Widow and six children virtually destitute. Luckily his Mother had two wealthy Brothers, Zachary and Nathaniel Bayly, who were rich Sugar Planters in Jamaica, and they helped to financially support the Edwards family in England. In 1759, when he was just 16 years old, Bryan Edwards was sent out to Jamaica to live with his uncle, the Hon. Zachary Bayly, Custos of St. Mary, who was a very prominent Sugar Planter and Politician in Jamaica. While in Jamaica Edwards was educated by the a private Tutor from England, the Rev. Isaac Teale, who was an Anglican Clergyman and Classical Scholar. His Uncle, the Hon. Zachary Bayly, also taught him all about Plantation Management and Colonial Politics in Jamaica. In 1769 his Uncle died and left him several Plantations and hundreds of Slaves in Jamaica. Four years later, in 1773, his Uncle’s friend and business partner, Benjamin Hume, also died and left Edwards two more Sugar Plantations and a Cattle Estate as well as hundreds more Slaves. These Plantations in Jamaica included Bryan Castle Estate and Brampton Bryan Estate in Trelawny and Nonsuch Estate and several other Plantations in St. Mary and St. George. Edwards had been elected as a Member for St. George Parish in the House of Assembly of Jamaica from as early as 1765 and he represented St. George, St. Mary and Trelawny at various times in the House of Assembly of Jamaica over the next 30 odd years. After a five year sojourn as an Absentee Proprietor in England from 1782 to 1787, he returned to Jamaica in 1787 and moved from St. George and St. Mary to Trelawny. He built Bryan Castle Great House, near Rio Bueno, in Trelawny between 1787 and 1790 and made it his principal residence. Edwards subsequently wrote most of his celebrated History of the British West Indies in his upstairs Library at Bryan Castle Great House. From its window he would have had a panoramic view over the foothills covered with cane-fields, pastures, pimento groves and woods all the way down to the blue Caribbean Sea far below in the distance. The 18th Century mahogany Chippendale desk, on which he wrote most of his History, was donated to the Institute of Jamaica in 1932. (In the 1970s it was said to be “on loan” to a Minister in the Manley Government and has since disappeared). In 1792 Edwards left Jamaica and returned home to England to live there permanently.He settled in Southampton, where he became a successful West India Merchant, and in 1793 he published his famous “History, Civil and Commercial, of the British Colonies in the West Indies”. He also went on to write and publish several other Books and Pamphlets. After having twice stood for election for Parliament in England unsuccessfully, Bryan Edwards was finally elected as an M. P. for Grampound in Cornwall in 1796 and he held that seat until his death four years later in 1800. While he was an M. P. in the House of Commons, Edwards was a leading Spokesman for the West India Interest, a vocal defender of Slavery and a bitter and powerful opponent of William Wilberforce and the Abolitionists. He died on the 6th of July, 1800, at The Polygon, his country house near Southampton, aged 56. In 1774 Bryan Edwards had married Martha Maria Phipps, the daughter of Thomas Phipps, Esq., High Sheriff of Wiltshire, of Leighton House, near Westbury, Wiltshire, England, and their son, Zachary Hume Edwards, Esq. inherited Edwards vast fortune including his Estate in England and also his several Plantations and hundreds of Slaves in Jamaica.This Portrait of Bryan Edwards, an Engraving of which was published in the Frontpiece of his History of the British West Indies, descended in the Bayly family in England until it was just recently sold at Auction at Bonham’s in London in December, 2010. From an Oil Painting by Lemuel Francis Abbott, c. 1794. Private Collection

Brimmer Hall Great House Photo Gallery

Brimmer Hall Great House Location Map