St. Nicholas Abbey, Barbados | CruiseBe
Average: 8.9 (15 votes)

St. Nicholas Abbey

St. Nicholas Abbey Cherry Tree Hill St. Peter, BB 26007 Barbados, West Indies
History and museums
historical landmark, sightseeing, plantation house

Embedded thumbnailVideo

St Nicholas Abbey is a plantation house in Saint Peter, Barbados, and is one of only three genuine Jacobean mansions in the Western Hemisphere. It is similar to the English Jacobean manor houses of the first half of the seventeenth century, the period between the Tudor and Georgian styles, beginning in the reign of James I.

St Nicholas Abbey has no church connection. It has always been a sugar plantation house. Colonel Benjamin Berringer built the house between 1650 and 1660. The exact origin of its name is not known but rumour has it that it was named after George Nicholas, husband to Berringer's granddaughter, Susanna.

Berringer was killed in a duel with his neighbor, Sir John Yeamans, who then married Berringer's widow and claimed the abbey as his property. In 1669, the Colonel's children took the matter to court and were awarded ownership of the property. Sir John and his wife then moved to the United States, where they helped found South Carolina. The house was later acquired by the eminent baronet, planter and legislator, Sir John Gay Alleyne, through his marriage to Christian Dottin. He lived there from 1746 until his death in 1801. Alleyne family traditions hold that Sir John planted the impressive mahogany avenue leading to Cherry Tree Hill.

The house passed by marriage to Charles Cave in 1834.

His great-great-grandson Lt. Col. Stephen Cave OBE lived there from 1978 until his death in November 2003.

The mansion is well preserved, with curvilinear Dutch gables with tall finials of carved coral stone and corner chimneys. The entrance portico, Chinese Chippendale staircase and cedar panelling are later additions. The fireplaces and walled Medieval herb garden were almost certainly included in the original plans brought from England, and copied faithfully. Sugar has been grown on the plantation since 1640 and there is still the evidence of the mill and sugar making edifices. Processed on the property until 1947, the cane is now trucked eight miles to the Portvale Sugar Factory for processing.

There is a rare 1930s film of life on a sugar plantation that is available for viewing. Listed by the Barbados Tourism Authority as one of the "Seven Wonders of Barbados," the property has attracted several thousand visitors a year. Amongst the mahogany trees are box, cabbage palm, silk cotton, and avocado trees.

Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0