What Are The Heritage Sites In St Mary?
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What Are The Heritage Sites In St Mary? | Harmony Hall Great House
by Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer
The parish of St. Mary is fondly called the Banana Parish. After all, its high production of the plant is what made the parish so well known. But did you know it is also rich in history and has many heritage sites?
Here are the most known ones:
- Rio Nuevo Taino Site - A collection of Taino sites can be found along the Rio Nuevo Valley Basin and into the hills as far south as Bellevue, which is about 10 miles away. The Rio Nuevo Taino Site, which overlooks the largest Taino site in this region, is named for the river. A view of the eastern part of the Taino site. It occupies a space of about 21,000 square metres. The cultivation of a coconut field over 10 years ago on the south portion of the site heavily deteriorated with the heavy machinery that was needed. George Rose is the owner of the site's part on the north side of the street, which is still largely undamaged.
- Annotto Bay Baptist - It was St. Mary's first Baptist church to be built, and it was completed in 1824. The Colonial Church Union had the backing of the Church among its members. However, it was reconstructed in 1835 with money raised by renowned abolitionists Thomas Buxton and William Knibb.
- Holy Trinity Anglican - On land given by Henry Rigg in 1828, the Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Retreat, St. Mary, was constructed. It is a stunning old Georgian structure. In 1791, Henry Rigg, a wealthy sugar plantation owner, was born in Bowness, Westmoreland, England. The materials used to build the church are wood, concrete, cut stone, and brick. It is situated where a former sugar estate formerly stood.
- Fort Haldane - This fort was built in 1759 and is located near Port Maria in the parish of St. Mary. General George Haldane, the former governor of Jamaica, was honoured with its name. The fort's strategically placed guns have a seaward-looking vantage point, providing a broad and breathtaking view over the former shipping harbour of Port Maria.
- Fort Oracabessa - During the War of Trade, this fort was constructed in Oracabessa, in the parish of St. Mary. Fort Littleton was built by John Allen in 1752 and named for William Henry Littleton, a Jamaican who served from 1762 to 1766.
- Brimmer Hall Great House - During the era of slavery in the 18th century, the plantocracy constructed the Bimmer Hall Great House. The Great House is situated on between 4,000 and 5,000 acres of property that previously belonged to the adjacent Tryall, Trinity, Roslyn, and Brimmer Hall estates. Zachary Bayley was the owner of all of it.
- Prospect Great House - An early eighteenth-century great house can be found on the Prospect Estate. It has two stories and some Palladian characteristics. Twenty-eight apertures were built into the ground floor's defences to keep off roving pirates and buccaneers. A mahogany tree in front of the house honours Sir Winston Churchill's and his family's three-week vacation there in 1952.
- Quebec Great House - Basic Georgian design elements like symmetry and a central portico are present in the Quebec Great House (Planter's House) building. The Planter's House's original internal layout has undergone various changes, but the outside still has many of the original characteristics, keeping the building's architectural integrity.
- Galina Lighthouse - The Galina Lighthouse is located close to Port Maria on the North Coast. The concrete and white-painted tower are more than 40 feet tall. About 60 feet above sea level, the light is. A white light flashes for 1.2 seconds from the Lighthouse. 10.8 seconds of total darkness follow. Solar energy is produced and used at the Lighthouse.
- Firefly House - Noel Coward, a British playwright, lived in Firefly. Henry Morgan, a renowned pirate, gave it the original name "Look Out" because that was its intended usage. While on an outing in the area, Noel Coward found the site.
He later bought the land and constructed the house that is now there. Because of the tiny sparkling insects that could be seen on the site, he changed the name to Firefly Hill. Coward wrote many of his well-known plays at Firefly, where he passed away at the age of 74. At Firefly, he was laid to rest in his favourite place.
- Harmony Hall House - The Harmony Hall House is a great example of Jamaican-Georgian design. In the latter part of the nineteenth century, the original residence was located on a modest pimento estate. The residence later served as the manse for the nearby Methodist Church, the prominent Sherlock family's residence, and finally the private residence of the Lobban family. In 1986, it was sold, renovated, and then converted into the Harmony Hall Art Gallery. The Jamaica National Heritage Trust designated the Harmony Hall House as a national monument on April 3, 2003.
- Castleton Botanical Garden - Castleton Botanical Garden is situated on both sides of the main road connecting Kingston and St. Mary. The dissatisfaction with the site in Bath, St. Thomas, led to its establishment on November 19, 1862. Castleton Gardens quickly rose to prominence as one of the best botanical gardens in the hemisphere thanks to its extensive plant collection.
- Claude Stuart Park - The Claude Stuart Park at Port Maria, St. Mary, was renamed Victoria Park in 1977. It was given that name in honour of Claude Stuart, a former minister of health and representative for St. Mary (1955–1962). A monument honouring Sir Charles Price, speaker of the Jamaican House of Assembly from 1746 to 1763, and Tacky, the rebel slave who led the Slave Rebellion of 1760, are both located in the park. A Cenotaph honouring the casualties of World Wars 1 and 2 is also there.
- Rio Nuevo Battle Site - The last major engagement between British and Spanish forces over control of Jamaica took place at Rio Nuevo St. Mary. After five years of guerrilla warfare under the direction of Spanish Governor Arnaldo de Isassi, the Spanish were ultimately defeated, leaving Jamaica firmly in English hands.
The Treaty of Madrid, signed in 1670, formally gave England possession of Jamaica from Spain. About one acre of the land on where the battle took place was granted to the Jamaica National Heritage Trust by the Beckford family, which controlled a sizeable chunk of the site (JNHT). The Rio Nuevo Heritage Foundation currently has a license from the JNHT for the occupation, use, and upkeep of this property.
- Port Maria Court House - In front of Claude Stuart Park and the Port Maria Parish Church is where you'll find the Port Maria Courthouse. Built in 1821, the courthouse and police station were once housed in this fine example of Georgian architecture. It was gutted by fire in 1988 and was finally reopened in 2000 as the Port Maria Civic Center.
- Woodside - The community of Woodside is one of the Jamaican villages replete with history. It has a connection to the Taíno, the Plantation Era and Emancipation.
You can read more about St. Mary’s rich history here.
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References & Sources For What Are The Heritage Sites In St Mary?
- Annotto Bay Baptist (no date) Jamaica National Heritage Trust - Jamaica - Annotto Bay Baptist. Available at: http://www.jnht.com/site_annotto_Bay_Baptist.php (Accessed: December 4, 2022).
- St. Mary Heritage Sites (no date) Jamaica National Heritage Trust - Jamaica. Available at: http://www.jnht.com/st_mary.php (Accessed: December 4, 2022).
What Are The Heritage Sites In St Mary? | Written: December 4, 2022
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