Culture & History in Trelawny Jamaica

Culture & History in Trelawny Jamaica
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Trelawny Parish:
What to Do, What to See

 

The parish of Trelawny Jamaica has many very interesting historic and cultural buildings and sites. They include:
  • Albert Town - Named for Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria, Albert Town is the largest town in southeastern Trelawny, an area dotted with small villages, rural communities and agricultural districts. Located on the outskirts of the Cockpit Country, this is simply a beautiful area with cool hills and valleys covered with exotic tropical plants, intriguing limestone caves and many underground rivers and waterfalls. Albert Town is a bird-watcher's paradise, with dozens of species endemic to Jamaica and to the Cockpit Country. You might see wild yellow and black-billed parrots, yellow-billed amazons or flocks of "doctor birds", a species of hummingbird indigenous to Jamaica. If you can be here the week before Easter, don’t miss the Annual Yam Festival. The town has parades and competitions, culminating in the Yam Farmers' Competition, in which yams are judged according to their quality, weight, size and shape, on Easter Monday. Yam is king here; you can even get yam ice cream! Some of the most scenic caves accessible to visitors are located in very close proximity to Albert Town. The Rock Spring Caves and the Quashie River Sink Caves, each no more than 15 minutes drive from the town center, offer two of the most captivating caving experiences in Jamaica, with mazes, secret chambers and waterfalls within the various limestone rock formations. You can get more information from the South Trelawny Environmental Agency office in Albert Town.
  • Clarks Town - Clark's Town is located in the heart of the Trelawny sugar belt, and is a busy rural town with an interesting history. After the emancipation of slaves in Jamaica in the mid-19th century, the owner of the Swandswick Estate, Mr. G.M. Clarke, donated a 30-acre tract of land on the edge of his estate to be used for the development of a "Free Village". The village at the time was structured in the traditional free village style, with a centrally located church and the houses of mainly sugar estate workers. The town stayed within its 1843 boundaries for almost a century, surrounded by sugar estate lands. Only in the past 50 years has the town been allowed to grow, and today it is no longer a small village but a bustling transportation hub with an energetic populace. Gold Label Rum is probably the best-known product from the Clark's Town area. It is produced and distilled at the Long Pond Sugar Factory. Look for St. Michael’s Chapel which at one time was the tallest building in the entire area surrounded by miles and miles of nothing but sugarcane.
  • FalmouthFounded by Thomas Reid in 1769, Falmouth was the county seat and market center for the Parish of Trelawny for 40 years. The town is noted for being one of the Caribbean’s best-preserved historic towns. Rather neglected today, this Georgian-style port town lies on the North Coast is about 23 miles east of Montego Bay and makes for an interesting walking tour. Some of the noted buildings on Water Square and the surrounding area are described below. Don’t be surprised to find goats wandering through town with you! Jamaica was the world’s leading sugar producer in the world in the 18th and early 19th Centuries, and Falmouth was carefully planned. It was a wealthy town in a wealthy parish. It even got piped-in water before New York City. Nearly 100 plantations were actively manufacturing sugar and rum for export to Britain. Of course it was also the central hub of the slave trade. In Falmouth Harbor as many as 30 tall-ships could be seen on any given day, many of them delivering slaves from Africa and loading their holds with rum and sugar manufactured by slave labor on the nearby plantations. After emancipation, Falmouth’s fortunes declined. Houses were built amid hsitoric building dating from 1790 to 1840, making this an intersting town to see. Check out Albert George Shopping and Historical Centre, a market full of little craft stalls that dates from 1895, called the Ben Down market by the locals; if you’re here on Wednesday between 8AM and noon, the market hosts the biggest flea market in Jamaica. There are plans to build a multi-million dollar cruise ship port in Falmouth to hold the newest and largest class of cruise ships.
  • Falmouth Court House: It was built in 1815 of Georgian design and was among Falmouth’s first official buildings. After a fire in 1926, it was successfully rebuilt.
  • Falmouth Parish Church: Saint Peter’s Anglican Church is located on Duke Street. It was built in 1795 and has the distinction of being the oldest church in the parish and the oldest public building in Falmouth. The land for the church was donated by Edward Barrett who had sold a part of his estate to have the township built. In 1842 it was enlarged with a western extension which now forms the nave. The church organ was donated by John Tharpe Esq., the original owner of Good Hope Estate in the parish of Trelawny. Graves spanning over two hundred years can be found in the churchyard.
  • Falmouth Wharves - Beginning at the Phoenix Foundry to Tharp House, Falmouth had numerous wharves which served the town. The workers at the Foundry were mainly Scotsmen, who were capable of repairing all machinery of the sugar estates in Trelawny and adjoining parishes, as well as repairing ships docked at the Falmouth Harbour. John Tharp, the owner of Tharp House and Tharp’s Wharf was a wealthy planter who owned a number of estates in the parish of Trelawny. By 1850, a pier was constructed between Tharp’s Wharf and Barrett’s Wharf. The pier lasted until August 11, 1903, when it was completely destroyed by a hurricane. By the 1860s, Falmouth had declined as a major port because newer, bigger sailing vessels needed deeper waters. They attempted to deepen the harbor but cost and the fact that new railway lines had been run through the island making other ports, like Montego Bay, more accessible, contributed to Falmouth’s decline by the 1890s.
  • Good Hope Great House: The estate was settled in 1742 and the house built around 1755 on top of a hill bordering Cockpit Country and the Martha Brae River. The original owner was Colonel Thomas Williams but it later belonged to John Tharp who became the wealthiest man and biggest slave owner in the West Indies; he owned 10,000 acres and 3,000 slaves in Trelawny and St James. On the estate are the Great House, the Counting House, Ice House, Estate Offices and Sugar Works. Labeled "Bad Hope" by locals because of its links to slavery, there is also a slave hospital still standing near the residence. The house was recently restored and most of these buildings are rented like villas. Good Hope has some of the best preserved Georgian architecture in the island. Visit acclaimed potter, David Pinto, at his studio on the estate.
  • Green Park Great House was originally called Green Pond by its first owner, George Sinclair of St. Ann, who acquired the property around 1740. It was owned by various individuals over the years, including Edward Barrett, great-grandfather of poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. In 1761, the estate was owned by Kingston merchants Southworth and Kenion. Southworth began the construction of the present Great House on the site of the first house in 1764, but he died before it was completed. Southworth changed the name from Green Pond to Green Park. The property was then bequeathed to William Artherton, who finished the house.
  • Hyde Hall Estate: There is an old monument here erected to a slave in the old slave village here. It is dated 1800. The story goes that a slave, Eve, was the woman in charge of the children of the slaves who went to work during the day. She died by drowning in a pond on Hyde Hall. The inscription says the monument was erected "by a grateful master, Henry Shirley." The abandoned great house near Clark’s Town and Duncans, was built around 1820 by James Hall who owned the only sugar mine in Jamaica along with several estates.

  • Kettering, in Duncans, was named after the birthplace of Reverend William Knibb in Northampton, England. He came to Jamaica as a teacher of slaves in Kingston at a school established at East Queen Street Baptist Church in 1825.
  • Kettering Baptist Church, in Duncans, is associated with Reverend William Knibb who founded the Kettering Free Village. The Church was founded in 1844. The Georgian Church is constructed of brick, stone, mortar, and timber and has a steep hip roof.

  • Rio Bueno is a small town located near the border of Trelawny and St. Ann. Most historians believe that this is where Christopher Columbus first landed, although Discovery Bay also makes claim to the honor. Having been chase by Arawaks in war canoes from Saint Ann’s Bay, he sailed into Discovery Bay but failed to find fresh water. So they continued west to the next harbor where they found the Rio Bueno. Rio Bueno, was once a busy sugar and banana port. Old Fort Dundas is here along with wharf houses, wharves and an 18th Century Baptist church on the hill. It was here that "A High Wind in Jamaica" was filmed. Marking the boundary between Trelawny and Saint Ann is the stone Bengal Bridge from 1789.
  • Rock - Another banana and sugar shipping port, Rock was the sister town to Martha Brae in the 18th century when that town was the parish capital. at the point where the Martha Brae enters the Caribbean Sea, Rock lies on one edge of the Luminous Lagoon. Eventually, when Falmouth replaced Martha Brae as the capital, Rock began its decline in importance, and has since become a sleepy fishing village on the outskirts of the Trelawny Beach resort area. Check out the Reggae To Wear factory, an internationally acclaimed Jamaican-made resort clothing line with hand-painted fabric which is produced here.

  • Stewart Castle – Here in the small rural village of Stewart Town near Duncans are the ruins of an impressive cut stone mansion, which became known as Stewart Castle. The building was originally fortified for protection against attack. There are loopholes for muskets placed strategically around the entire building. James Stewart was the custodian of Trelawny parish. His father (also James) owned one of the most lucrative estates in the parish, and built one of the most impressive great houses on his plantation. The ruins of the mansion still exist today, surrounded by a modern housing development. A Taino Midden was found on the property in 1957 and the property is now owned by the Jamaica National Heritage.
  • Stewart Town, tucked away in the Dry Harbour Mountains is a small rural village. In 1812, following the outbreak of war between Britain and the newly independent colonies of North America, 50 acres of land high in the mountains were put aside so the estates could have lumber and other supplies that were difficult to get. The town was named for the then custodian of the parish of Trelawny, James Stewart, who spearheaded its development. This is also the home of Westwood Girl’s School; one of Jamaica’s most distinguished. In the late 1800s, two nieces of the famous abolitionist, Reverend William Knibb, formed a school in Falmouth called the Polly Knibb School For Ladies Of Colour. In 1876, the Knibbs enrolled two black girls, both daughters of ministers. This enraged parents of their white students, but they refused to expel them. The white students withdrew their enrollment, causing the school to falter and eventually fail in 1881. Later that year, the father of one of the girls managed, on a trip to England, to secure funding for the establishment of a new school, and in 1882 the doors were opened to all young ladies, regardless of race or color. Look for the girls in their distinctive traditional uniforms, a navy blue tunic with a white under-blouse and a straw jippa-joppa hat which they continue to wear today. Most of the town’s beautiful Georgian buildings are on the campus, so ask permission before entering the school’s grounds.

  • Windsor Great House - In the 1700s, the Windsor Estate (in Windsor) was part of the vast landholdings of John Tharp (see Good Hope Great House above), who operated it as a cattle farm. The Windsor Great House was built in 1755 when the area was still part of Saint James parish. (Trelawny was formed in 1770.) The site may have been used by the British as a military base because of its strategic location on the edge of the forbidding terrain of the Cockpit Country. The estate has been owned by Englishman Michael Schwartz for many years. He and biologist Susan Koenig operate the Windsor Research Centre on the grounds of the former plantation, and occasionally play host to visiting students and scientists conducting research on the unique flora and fauna of the area. The bird-watching is spectacular here!


Falmouth Shore Excursion: Annandale Great House Tour - $79.99

from: Viator

While in port in Falmouth, take a trip to the historic Annandale Great House on this shore excursion! Travel to the countryside of Jamaica and discover the history and charm of this historic estate on a guided tour. See one of Jamaica?s largest antique collections and sip afternoon tea while overlooking the beautiful countryside.

 

Falmouth Shore Excursion: Bob Marley Experience - $74.99

from: Viator

While you?re in port in Jamaica, see where the island?s most famous son, Bob Marley, lived and played! On this shore excursion, you?ll visit the small village of Nine Mile, the birthplace and resting place of Bob Marley. See Mt Zion, his meditation spot, and learn about the Rastafarian religion he practiced.

culture-&-history-in-trelawny-jamaica

 

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