The Georgians Are Coming!

 

For a year now, I have been working with the Friends of the Georgian Society of Jamaicaa UK based organization, whose members are passionate about Georgian Architecture and Jamaica, and "saving Jamaica's heritage, enhancing Jamaica's future".  It has been both fun and fascinating.  Fifteen FGSJ members will visit Jamaica for a fortnight this April, moving round the island by Coach and Driver, taking in as much architecture and history as humanly possible, meeting as many interesting people as can be orchestrated, eating well, staying in wonderful accommodations, embracing beauty and nature, thoroughly enjoying Jamaica and all the island offers the appreciative architecture and history aficinado.

An Overview of FGSJ Itinerary

 

Land in Montego Bay, straight to Good Hope, in time for a Sundowner, check into the newly renovated 1755 Coach House, waking the next morning to an enchanted view, a view much like the view seen from the Good Hope Great House front lawn 250 years ago.

KeVaughn Harding, Director, Falmouth Heritage Renewal, http://www.falmouthjamaica.org,  will join for Lunch and talk about the new archeological project at Good Hope and then take everyone to Falmouth.  Falmouth Heritage Renewal has gained an international reputation for accurately restoring the Falmouth Historic District, the largest intact collection of Georgian buildings in the Caribbean.  A dedication to sustainability and to time honored techniques and materials sets FHR apart in building conservation.  The organization has an admirable commitment to the community, restoring homes, providing training and jobs and preserving Jamaica culture.  

The next day there is a country picnic, and romp with Marina Delfos through the rural parish of Trelawny to see remnants and restorations of impressive Georgian architecture, incl,  Stewart Castle, Orange Valley, Long Pond, Hyde Hall, Clark's Town and more.  Marina is an activist, promoting heritage tourism, she co-founded Falmouth Heritage Walks in 2011, and 2 years later, expanded her tour product to include the Falmouth Food Tour, and the Falmouth Jewish Cemetery Tour.  

Time to pack and move west - through Montego Bay with Trina DeLisser, Chairman of St. James Georgian Society's Jamaica chapter and owner of Rocky Point Stables at Half Moon Resort.  Visit Grove Hill House, a pure and fragile Georgian treasure, unaltered and belonging to the same family, since built early 18th century.  As well as the newly restored Montego Bay Court House, with Jamaica National Gallery annex.  YS Falls, for late lunch, before claiming a room key at Idler's Rest, in Black River, before dark . The tour has only one night in Black River, but it's worth it for Alison Morris's Black River Heritage Walk Tour

The next day, after Alison's tour, the goal is to reach Strawberry Hill, 3,000 ft. above Kingston, before dark.  It's a 3 hour drive, but there will be stops in route, Mandeville of course, and then Colbeck Castle, a rarely visited relic, epic in size and story - the largest 17th century building of it's kind in Jamaica, known as the mystery building, there is virtually no information about it's origin.  Colbeck Castle, and the island's precious architectural patrimony, is protected by Jamaica National Heritage Trust, www.jmht.com.  

Now there are 4 blissful nights at Strawberry Hill, the ultimate Blue Mountain base camp, from which to explore the historic and architectural riches of Kingston, Spanish Town and Port Royal.  And with learned guides from University of West Indies, who have graciously given their time, Ivor Connolley, James Robertson and Suzanne Francis - Browne.   The culmination of the country, city, mountains portion of the itinerary is a garden lunch at Belcour, the home of celebrated cookbook author Robin Lim Lumsden, then toddle up the hill to pack for the next day's move over the mountain to the Beach, at last.

First stopping in Newcastle in route - established in 1841 as a healthy base camp for the British Army to escape Malaria. Today the picturesque old camp serves for training the Jamaica Defense Force. Newcastle's motto: No obstacle too difficult, no task too great!

 

And then for a cup of the world’s best coffee, with farmer, master roaster – David Twyman at The Old Tavern Blue Mountain Coffee Estate.

As well as a meeting with the Charles Town Maroons, to pay respect and support their efforts establishing a Maroon Museum.

We land on the coast in Buff Bay and carry on to Port Antonio the greenest, lushest Jamaica. Port Antonio was a sleepy little hamlet until 1880’s when the Banana Trade began. Seemingly overnight the Port became a ‘boom town’.  Tourists arrived on banana boats and the international set arrived on yachts. There was a golden and glamorous time, where movie stars, business moguls and modern day pirates played together in the noonday sun, redefining an exciting new industry called Tourism.   

Frenchman’s Cove Resort, a down in the heels architectural masterpiece, of that golden time, will be expecting us.

It’s a short, 2 night, visit to Port Antonio.  Joanna Hart will lead a historic tour, which is her bailiwick, focusing on the lovely Tichfield peninsula… and of course, Rafting on the Rio Grande - which is simply imperative.

It’s almost time for a day of doing absolutely nothing and it’s coming, once we reach Jamaica Inn – a vanishing classic Caribbean resort of decorum and elegance. The last 4 nights are here, and the group has earned the privilege of breakfast on one’s own sea view veranda, rum punch 11sie’s and visits to a parade of private homes, restored Georgian treasures, great and small.

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Last lik, Sunday morning, half-way to the Montego Bay Airport, veer off the efficient new north coast highway, to the forgotten seaport, Rio Bueno, to hear the church bells ring, Jamaica Farewell, from the impossibly romantic 19th century belfry of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.  

 

 

  

About the author

Lynda Lee Burks has lived in Jamaica most of her adult life. She supports her passion for living by the sea, by organizing tours of Jamaica, producing events – dub poets to destination weddings, and as artist and teacher.  

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