Posts tagged Jacobean

Drax Hall

Now for the contrast.

Before my MIL arrived, Ian and I had started with Hike Barbados. Every Sunday, they have a different hike, a great way to see the island. You can go on the 6:00 a.m. hike or the 3:30, both lasting for 3 hours.Funnily enough we had just gone on the Drax Hall hike.

As I said in the St. Nicholas Abbey post, there are only three Jacobean houses in the Western Hemisphere. Two in Barbados, and one in Virginia.

Drax Hall is still owned by the original family that built it in 1650’s.  It is the largest and oldest working plantation in Barbados. It is not open to the public, but they allowed Hike Barbados participants to park at the plantation while we were on the hike.

Wish I had taken a picture of the front of the house

Some of the buildings are not being used anymore and have fallen into disrepair.

I wish that Kilbourne Grove had a couple of these to design the garden around.

Ian, glad that he is not digging a garden border in front of these walls!

The windmill, without the top.

At one time the number of windmills in Barbados was second only to Holland, but now there is only one working windmill on the island. You see a large number of them when you are driving around. A gentleman at St. Nicholas Abbey told us a story about how children would grab the bottom of the blades when it went around, twisting their grip as the blade rose higher. Scary!

We started walking down the farm road through the sugar cane fields.

Here you see the just planted fields, and on the other side were the older fields. They are over your head, so you cannot see anything when you look around. In a month, the harvest will start. It will look quite different when the fields are cut to the ground.

 Drax Hall is near the middle of the island. You can see how much higher up it is, great views and always a nice breeze.

As I said earlier, there are 5:oo hikes and then the 3:30 ones. When we went on this we attended the 3:30. If we had been thinking, 3 hours from 3:30 is 6:30. Sunset is at 6:00.

Getting dark!

 That meant hiking in the dark, luckily someone lent us a flashlight, otherwise we would probably still be out in the cane field.

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St. Nicholas Abbey


The MIL is visiting, so I am (desperately)  searching for things that I can see and do with her.  The beach had filled a lot of days during the week, but a car this weekend allowed us to get around the island and see some sights.

We had been advised by lots of people to see St. Nicholas Abbey, it is listed on all the tourist websites, so on Sunday, we finally made the drive.

It was built in 1658, and is one of only three Jacobean houses in the Western hemisphere, the others are Drax Hall (also in Barbados) and Bacon’s castle in Virginia.

SNA (as I am now calling it), is one of the islands oldest surviving plantations. The plantation is over 400 acres of sugar cane, and has a huge number of mahogany trees. When we were there, I was talking to an employee about the trees, he had recently cut up 200 dead ones, sawed them into planks that were stacked in one of the barns.

The plantation has nothing to do with a church but the name comes from owners who combined ‘Nicholas Plantation’ (the original name), ‘St. Nicholas Parish’ (where the brides family lived) and ‘Bath Abbey’ (where they were married). I love to read how other people came up with their house names, reminds me of how we came up with Kilbourne Grove.

This is such a beautiful house, very airy and bright. The Drawing room’s cedar panelling was added in 1898 to protect the house from dampness and is oiled once a week (I shall have to step up my wood oiling at Kilbourne Grove), yikes! 

There were a number of Sailors’ Valentines around the room, popular souvenirs from the 1860’s. Amazing how much time they would take, no internet, tv etc. to distract you from glueing all these tiny little shells together.

I need one of these! It looks so snuggly.

In the Study, the Gentleman’s chair has adjustable tables, a book holder, reading lamp, back and foot rests. All I need is a little bell to call Ian when I need a drink, lol.

Look at this beautiful staircase.

 It is chippendale and has a different pattern on each flight,  love it.

The upstairs is not open to the public, this is where the owners live, so we headed outside to see the gardens.

The tree just outside in the stable yard is over 400 years old.

It is a Sandbox Tree, (Hura crepitans) which is indigenous to the caribbean, and it is huge, I couldn’t fit it all in my photo.

On the other side of the courtyard, the old stables had been turned into a museum, gift shop, and cafe. As you entered you received a rum punch, delicious, (I was tempted to walk back and forth several times, lol). 

They also have a small distillery where they produce rum in small quantities. I was surprised to find out it is similar to making maple syrup, boiling down the juice from the cane, until it is thicker.  They used to do it with a series of kettles, but now have a bit more modern system.

10 tonnes of cane=3000 litres of cane juice=60 hours of fermentation=20 hours of distillation=260 litres of ethyl alcohol=2 barrels of rum for aging=700 bottles of rum after 10 years! Suddenly I appreciate that rum a lot more.

 There were lots of lovely gardens everywhere, and tons of orchids. I saw some unusual growing methods for them, from tying them to a stake,

 to this metal cage,

and of course growing in trees.

And lots of great containers, from concrete that had moss and tiny ferns growing on it,

 to old metal kettles.

It is fascinating to see how rum was made and what one family has accomplished in bringing this plantation into the 21st century.

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