Yes, Barbados is no doubt a magnet for those drawn to sea, sand and sun; however, what many people do not recognize is that if they got off their beach chairs and explored some of our ‘times past’ they will be more than blown away. I mean, Barbados practically invented rum; Barbados was the only place George Washington ever visited outside of colonial America; and Barbados hosts two out of the three remaining Jacobean styled houses in the entire western hemisphere.
Our history is simply overflowing and the romance of it all makes us sit here in absolute awe. From visions of old sugar plantations to the rugged, untouched East coast of the island.
Let Loop Barbados take you back in time and discover “Old Barbados” for yourself!
Nestled on the North-West coast of Barbados is a little world of wonder called Speightstown. When walking through this town it is as though you have been taken back to another time. The remnants of colonial architecture combined with modern structures, give you an old world feeling with a dash of the present day intertwined. Splashes of colour and cackles of laughter lighten up your day as you stroll through this iconic town. From art galleries, to market vendors to quaint seaside restaurants, there is a little bit of everything for everyone.
As you venture out to explore the island, you will without a doubt notice many small wooden houses scattered throughout Barbados. These houses with the slated windows, shingled roofs and ability to be dismantled and moved are called Chattel houses and are an integral part of the Barbadian landscape. They are synonymous to the culture of the Caribbean and of course Barbados, which in turn takes us back to the earlier days of sugar plantations.
Bridgetown, our capital of Barbados really showcases the authenticity and history that we have to offer. Recently, Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison was named a UNESCO world heritage site, as our town is an outstanding example of British colonial architecture, along with well-preserved features of the 17th, 18th and 19th century. We have a rich African and British historical heritage and are known to have the world’s most rare collection of 17th century English iron cannons.
As the topic of sugar plantations emerge, there is no skipping over one of the three Jacobean styled plantation houses left in the Western hemisphere – the infamous St. Nicholas Abbey. Over 350 years old, this architectural beauty stands tall in the parish of St. Peter, with antiques, a rum distillery, orchards and picturesque gardens, what more could you ask for. When you enter the vibrant red iron gates of the property you are transformed back into the 17th century; pure mystic and history awaits you!
Another snip of old Barbados is Fisherpond Great House, built in 1635 this historic sugar plantation is perfectly perched in the lush valley of Sweet Bottom. Fisherpond Great House is Barbados as it used to be and John and Rain Chandler, the owners of this house and operation, are the finest example of old school hospitality. With manicured gardens, chirping birds and a symbolic historic windmill, Fisherpond is one of the finest examples of old Barbados.
[update: Fisherpond is no longer, but John & Raine moved with all their antiques, parrots and plants to the spectacular Lancaster Great House in St James, a beautiful old plantation house – they have transformed the gardens and created a gorgeous location for weddings, events, dinners and cocktail parties. Of course their reputation for hospitality and fabulous events still remains! ]
Some of the best rum in the world is made in little Barbados and what else would we be talking about other than the famous Mount Gay rum. You see, those fields upon fields of sugar cane allow for some of the best rum to be manufactured and supplied to the world. Tasting the full, rich and slightly sharp flavour of the rum pulls you back in time to the beginning of it all; 1703. Come and discover the historic origins of the brand, observe the distillation, ageing and blending techniques, which have been perfected over the 300 years of crafting an award-winning rum.
As you can so vividly see, Barbados is more than just sea, sun and sand; the old houses, architectural grace and historical monuments are the true and very eloquent celebrities of the island. Although our future is bright and beaming we must never let go of our saga, as it is the foundation we have built upon, and the beauties that resonate from it all are nothing less than meaningful and distinguished backdrops that await your presence.
On Tour with Loop Barbados is a regular feature in our magazine and online – they are the essential guide to Barbados from locals who know!
Website: Loop Barbados