Barbados culture and history is not always the first thing you associate with your holiday in the sun. However, you might be surprised. There are many unique things to see and do during your Barbados holiday. There truly is something for everyone, which is what makes Barbados such an ever-popular holiday destination. One of the ‘not to be missed’ attractions is St Nicholas Abbey – one of only three Jacobean Manor Houses still standing in the Americas today.
For fans of antiquities and history, this provides a charming and nostalgic view into the heritage of a fine Barbadian property, as well as beautiful gardens and plants, the history of rum making and a delightful café. During its colourful 350 year history, St. Nicholas Abbey has tales to tell of murder, love and intrigue; and throughout the centuries its owners have played crucial roles in both Barbadian and American history.
St Nicholas Abbey was bought fairly recently by the Warren family in 2006. Travelling back through the centuries, they are preceded by the Cave family, The Cumberbatch family, Sir John Gay Alleyne, right back to the first owners in the 17th century; Colonel Benjamin Berringer and Sir John Yeaman. The tales of death, intrigue and family feuds is all there to discover when you visit – I won’t spoil the fun for you! But…. you can enjoy this video and get a real feel of the history and ambience you will experience.
Located, towards the north east of the island, in the parish of St Peter, first built in the 1650s, you may notice there are a number of architectural accents from the Hanseatic league of countries in Europe; for example, the sweeping curves of the gables; (you’d expect to see them along the canals of Amsterdam not in Barbados!). Surprisingly, the house has chimneys with open fire places, not that the island has ever been cold! It’s thought that Beringer bought the plans on a trip to his homeland of England where obviously fireplaces were commonplace.
There are a number of fine British antiques around the house. There is a Sheraton sideboard from the late 1700s in the dining room. There is also a large dinner service by Coalport, founded by John Rose in 1795. If you are a fan of fine china you’ll be familiar with the Japanese Imari’ pattern. The service dates from circa 1810, which is only 15 years after the company started. It was produced and hand painted in the small village of Coalport in the Severn valley of Shropshire in England. There are two Wedgwood tea sets in the house, again another great British brand of pottery.
When you enter the study, you’ll find a Burlington gentlemen’s chair from the 1930s.
This is where a gentleman could read whist having the convenience of a lamp and table all attached to the chair and if ‘Sir’ should tire, a foot and head rest, so taking a nap was a possibility! The chair has wheels so to easily be moved to one’s favourite spot. There are many other fine pieces around the house, which is lovingly restored and preserved by the current private owners.
The small rum distillery is operational in the grounds, and makes the finest rum in Barbados. During your visit, there is the opportunity to purchase this very special product. During a tour of St Nicholas Abbey you can expect to experience a little taste of some of the rums, once you’ve had a look at the fascinating production process. You can enjoy lunch or snacks or something cooling in the Terrace Café overlooking the tropical gullies, before you pick up some gifts or souvenirs. There is a fascinating video presentation which will leave you fully informed of the history and heritage of this magical place.
St Nicholas Abbey may take your eye as the perfect venue for your tropical wedding. Whether an intimate affair or something larger and grander – all can be catered for, including other private events and celebrations. During ‘the season’ there are fabulous ‘moonlight dinners’ – tickets are required. It’s a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the majesty of this property along with fine dining all under a starlit and moonlit sky.
Don’t miss the opportunity to add some Barbados culture and history to your holiday. Click here for contact information for St Nicholas Abbey and for more information on tours, special events or rum.
Make sure you pay a visit to this truly magnificent old property and travel back in time!