St. Nicholas Abbey - Meet Barbados' Heritage
Duration: Half Day
Gain an insight into Barbados’ rich heritage on this memorable tour of St. Nicholas Abbey in the parish of St Peter. This impressive old plantation house has been listed as one of the 'Seven Wonders of Barbados' by the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA). Both visitors and locals are intrigued by its fascinating history, which dates back to the 17th century.
Built by Colonel Benjamin Beringer (the first known owner of the plantation and one of the early sugar planters), sometime between 1650 and 1660, St Nicholas Abbey is believed to be the oldest building in Barbados. As one of only three existing Jacobean houses in the Western Hemisphere – the other two being Drax Hall in Barbados and Bacon's Castle in Virginia – this majestic building is of significant historical value to the island. It is not known why the house is called St Nicholas Abbey as it was never an abbey, but it has been in the current owner's family for generations.
As you approach the house you will notice several distinguishing features such as the curved Dutch gables, chimney stacks and beautiful coral stone finials. While most of the structures in North America were built out of timber at the time, St Nicholas Abbey was made of brick and limestone. This building has been well preserved and much of the original features remain. Inside you will find an old Chinese Chippendale staircase, fireplaces, fine antiques and china, candlesticks and period furniture such as the 18th century Grandfather clock and Sheraton sideboard. A rare 1930s film of daily life on the sugar plantation can also be viewed whilst you are there. Only the ground floor of the structure is open to the public.
Situated near the famous Cherry Tree Hill, St. Nicholas Abbey is surrounded by lush tropical forests, beautiful gardens and over 400 acres of sugar cane fields. Sugar has been grown at the plantation since around 1640 and is still grown here today. This precious ‘white gold’ as it was once called, was Britain's largest import from the Caribbean during the 18th Century and most of the plantations, including St. Nicholas Abbey, were producing sugar and molasses to meet the growing needs of the Old World (Europe, Asia and Africa). The estate has become a popular tourist attraction since it was lovingly restored to its former glory several years ago.
At the end of the tour, visitors will even get the chance to sample and buy St. Nicholas Abbey Barbados Rum, which is now produced here. This tour will give you a fascinating glimpse of island history and culture during your holiday in Barbados.
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