Drax Hall - Barbados Colonial Past
Duration: Half Day
Learn about Barbados’ fascinating colonial past on this unique tour of Drax Hall, the oldest surviving Jacobean mansion in the Western Hemisphere. Step back in time to the 17th century when sugar cane was first cultivated on the island, and imagine the grandeur of this old plantation house in its prime. This excursion is an ideal way to gain an insight into Barbados’ rich heritage.
It is believed that Drax Hall was built sometime in the 1650's by wealthy brothers William and James Drax, who made their fortune in sugar. However, there is some uncertainty as to whether it was actually built by Henry Drax, James’s son, who was reputedly the richest planter in Barbados at the time. Located in the beautiful parish of St George in the middle of the island, Drax Hall is one of the earliest, biggest and wealthiest sugar plantations in Barbados.
The well-preserved, coral-stone house is a fine example of classic Jacobean architecture, with its steep red gable roof, coral-stone corner finials, casement gable windows and grand Jacobean staircase, which boasts a beautiful hall archway carved from mastic wood. Only three of these 17th century Jacobean mansions exist in the Western World today and the plantation is of great importance to historians and architectural buffs. The house is still owned, though not lived in, by the Drax family today. Unfortunately, it is not open to the public, but the exterior is certainly worth seeing nonetheless.
Sugar cane was first cultivated commercially at Drax Hall in 1642, and the estate still remains a working plantation today. On the tour, visitors can watch a film about daily life on Bajan sugar plantations and how the cane was cultivated by African slaves. You will also learn how the planters and merchants prospered from this precious “white gold” during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries as the demand for sugar, molasses and rum increased from Britain and the rest of the ‘Old World’ (Europe, Asia and Africa).
If you want to discover more about the history of the sugar industry during your holiday in Barbados, don’t miss the chance to visit other important relics from the plantation days, including the 18th century Morgan Lewis Mill at St Andrew, one of only two restored sugar mills in the Caribbean, and the ruins of the 18th century Farley Hill great house in Farley Hill National Park.
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