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Jamaica's 'Wash Belly' Parish
Map Showing Parish Of Manchester Jamaica
The last (hence the term 'wash belly') parish to be formed in Jamaica, Manchester Jamaica, has an area of 830.1 km2, and a population of 191,991, based on 2018 report by the Statistical Institute Of Jamaica.
It was coffee cultivation that led to its creation in 1814 and the founding of the town, its capital, Mandeville.
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Up to the early 18th century, the hilly areas that make up the parish were large‘y in wilderness. Then coffee cultivation was begun on a large scale and the Manchester hills were found to be particularly suitable for the crop. Soon the area became populated with coffee growers.
However, the new residents found themselves isolated from the surrounding parish capitals.
On 29 November 1814 the residents of Mile Gully, May Day, and Carpenter’s Mountain, petitioned the Assembly to carve out a new parish and establish a town that would make religious, judicial and civic centres closer to them.
That petition pointed out that no parochial or public building was closer than 64km to the majority of inhabitants of the area and there was no church!
On the 13th of December, 1814, the separate parish of Manchester was formed out of parts of the surrounding parishes of St. Elizabeth, Clarendon, and Vere, and named after the Duke of Manchester who was governor at the time.
The chief town of Mandeville was named after his eldest son. More on Mandeville here.
Since sugar was not grown commercially in the parish of Manchester, the plantation system never took hold there. After emancipation, the newly freed slaves became independent land settlers and continued to grow coffee and other crops. (See free villages.)
Manchester today produces much of Jamaica’s Irish potato crop as well as Citrus, Cattle, and Ground provisions.It is also one of the parishes in which bauxite is mined on a large scale.
The Train Wreck :-(
Despite its economic contirbution to the country, Manchester Jamaica also has the dubious distinction of the Kendal train wreck!
On Septemer 1, 1957, a train returing to Kingston from Montego Bay crashed, injuring close to 700 persons and killing close to 200 - one of the worst disasters in Jamaica's history and one of the worst railway crashes in the world!
The excursion was organized by the St. Anne Anglican Church in Kingston.
Historical Sites & Attractions In Manchester Jamaica
Despite that, Manchester is home to some of Jamaica's most cherished heritage sites and attractions.
- St. Mark's Anglican Church (aka Manchester Parish Church)
The church opened its doors in 1820. The chapel and timber clerestory and tower were added later. For many years this was the only church in the parish. One rector was the notorious Revd Bridges.
In the slave rebellion of 1832, led Sam Sharpe, the organ loft was reportedly used as a jail. Nonconformist missionaries were believed by the authorities to be implicated in the rebellion and many of them were arrested including the Rev H.G. Pfeiffer, a Moravian.
The Mandeville jail was so full he was locked in the organ loft to await a court martial. In the meantime, a sympathetic person galloped all over the parish collecting character witnesses on his behalf and they were rushed to the trial in time to secure his acquittal.
- The Mandeville Court House
A fine example of indigenous architecture. It is build of Limestone blocks cut by slave labour. The courthouse was one of the four original public buildings of the town and took some time to complete because of the vestrymen kept changing their minds about the design.
It was finished around 1820. The first school in the town was held in the ground floor.
- The Mandeville Hotel
The building was originally the barracks when
Mandeville was a garrison for English troops. Many of these troops died
in a yellow fever outbreak and were buried in the eastern part of the
Parish Church yard.
In the 18903, after the garrison had
departed, the building became a hotel called the Waverley. When Miss
Jane Brooks took over in 1898, it became Brooks Hotel and finally was
known as the Mandeville Hotel.
It became the centre of social
life for British retirees in Manchester, as well as for white Jamaicans
from the area, during the first half of the 20th century.
an unwritten colour bar existed there for years, enforced by various
dowagers whose keen training for genetic markers could allegedly pick
out any newcomer of dubious origin.
Other Key Historical Sites In Manchester
Other key historical sites in Machester Jamaica include:
- Maidstone– one of the first communities to become a free village, orchestrated by the Nazareth Moravian Church.
- The Bloomfield Great House
- Marlborough Great House - built in 1795 and designed by a Scottish architect named Forsyth.
- Roxborough - the birthplace of Norman Washington Manley, one of Jamaica's national heroes.
- Manchester Club Golf Course - The oldest surviving club in the western hemisphere.
- Williamsfield Railway Station – with its Georgian architectural style.
Jail and Workhouse – one of the the first buildings erected in
the parish! Located of the current police station.
- And, The Mandeville Rectory
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- Parish Profile: Manchester, https://jis.gov.jm/information/parish-profiles/parish-profile-manchester/ (Link)
- History of Manchester, https://www.nlj.gov.jm/history-notes/History%20of%20Manchester.pdf
- Manchester Parish, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manchester_Parish
Other Pages Related To Manchester Jamaica
Return to Parishes Of Jamaica from Manchester Jamaica
Return to My Island Jamaica from Manchester Jamaica
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