In its “hey day”, the Green Park had to have been a magnificent structure. When Thomas Southworth moved to Green Park Estate, a two story Georgian great house existed made of square cut stone which was probably shipped to Jamaica from England as ship ballast. The house was approximately 40 feet by 60 feet. He built a second great house adjacent to the first of over 6,000 square feet. He constructed ground floor out of cut stone and the second story of wood. In the center of the second story was a large room 40 feet long by 18 feet wide, which was used as a dining room and ballroom. It had a high ceiling formed by the roof peak. The ballroom had large arches and French doors on the north side opening onto a wide verandah on all four sides of the house. The verandah was enclosed with alternating sash windows and louvers, which allowed cool breezes to flow through the house. This room was surrounded by bedrooms. The ground floor consisted of a large center room and a room on each corner. External doors on the east and south sides opened into foyers. The grand foyer was on the west side and was constructed entirely out of wood. There were numerous gun ports, required by law. A plantation was required to defend itself against a slave revolt; hence, most great houses had a ground floor made of stone. Additionally, it was required that there be no less than one white man to every one hundred slaves. On the south were two double doors six feet wide and fifteen feet high. There was one set of double doors at the west grand entrance. At the front of the building are two marble plaques on either side of the front door. The northern plaque says, “Green Park Plantation Manor” and the south says, “Built in 1764 by William Atherton.”
In addition to the two main structures, to the rear of the first great house there was a gabled kitchen with a huge oval window and a large brick fireplace able to roast a whole ox. Next to the kitchen were the stables, carriage house, and a round two story bathroom with three toilets on the first floor and a bath on the second floor. To the rear of the second great house was a large windmill tower.
I would have loved to see the great house in its prime. Unfortunately, the present owner is unsympathetically restoring the house and when finished it will not look like the original building.
Green Park Great House Layout
Green Park Great House, Trelawny, Jamaica. The Dining Room. From a Photograph taken in 1922. Collection: Brett Ashmeade-Hawkins.
Green Park Great House Photo Gallery
Green Park Location Map
This is the first of two blog posts on the TheLastGreatGreatHouseBlog.wordpress.com. The first post will discuss the history of the estate and second post will discuss the great house itself. Much of the information is derived from the excellent research by Brett Ashmeade-Hawkins into the estate.
Green Park Estate was located approximately ten kilometers from Falmouth in Trelawny Parish. A portion of it was originally the Bradshaw Estate, named after James Bradshaw. Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England granted to it to James Bradshaw in 1655 for the part his Father or Uncle (it is uncertain) John Bradshaw played in signing the death warrant of King Charles I. In 1660, King Charles II granted an adjacent estate to Richard Barrett and in 1706, Queen Anne granted 248 acres to Francis Egg who sold it to George Collier who renamed it Green Pond. George Sinclair bought the property from George Collier in 1740 and then built the first great house. In 1743, he sold it to William Clarke who built the second great house on the property, which was now 300 acres. He used is as a cattle operation. In 1759, Clarke sold the property to Edward Barrett who had inherited the Barnett Estate, increasing the property size to 742 acres. In 1759, Edward Barrett sold the property to James Peterkin who resold it to two Kingston merchants named John Kennion and Thomas Southworth in 1761. Thomas Southworth moved to the plantation, changed the name to Green Park and changed it from a cattle operation to sugar estate. Construction began on the present great house in 1764 by Thomas Southworth but he died before it was completed. William Atherton, Southworth’s heir, moved to the estate, took over the operation and completed the great house between 1768 and 1769.
During the 1770s, William Atherton expanded the estate by purchasing the adjoining Bradshaw Estate in 1771, which increased the size to 1,315 acres, and he added a second sugar mill in 1773 with an imposing stone windmill, which supplemented the mill powered by cattle. He imported hundreds of slaves from Africa to work in the cane fields and sugar factories of what was now the third largest estate of the eighty-eight estates in Trelawny Parish. William Atherton established himself, not only as one of the wealthiest sugar planters but also established himself as a merchant in the nearby towns of Martha Brae and Falmouth. Additionally he acted as the attorney for William Gale who owned the Gale Valley estate and Edward Hyde who owned the Swanswick Estate as well as several other planter families. (I will report on the existing Gales Valley and Swanswick great houses in a later blog. He also owned the Spring Valley Pen, which I will report on, in a later blog.) This made him an immense fortune and allowed him to purchase Prescott Hall, a country estate near Preston in Lancashire and retire to England in 1783. He died in 1803 and left the Green Park Estate to his nephew, John Atherton.
In 1810, the plantation records listed the estate having 550 slaves and 302 head of cattle. Green Park Estate stayed in the family until 1910, when the family decided to sell it to their Planting-Attorney, Walter Woolliscroft who had managed the estate for many years. In 1920, Mr. Woolliscroft made a fortune in the “Dance of the Millions.” In 1919, sugar sold for US$0.05 per pound:
1919 Average- US$0.05
January 1920- US$0.06 1/2
February 1920- US$0.095-the highest sugar had ever sold
March 2- US$0.10
March 18- US$0.11
March 27- US$0.12
April 8- US$0.15 1/2
April 18- US$0.18
May 19- US$0.22 1/2 this was the high when Mr. Woolliscroft sold his crop
By December the price was US$0.03 3/4
The price of sugar continued to fluctuate radically but usually higher that the average 1919 price which made Mr. Woolliscroft very wealthy but following the stock market crash of 1929, the price of sugar plummeted sending the Green Park Estate deeply into debt and forced Mr. Woolliscroft into bankruptcy. He sold the estate to Guy Milliner. Eventually the estate and sugar works were closed in 1957 and the last sugar cane crop harvested in 1963. Kaiser Bauxite Company bought the property to resettle farmers on five acre plots.