Greenwood Great House

Moon Author's Review

Greenwood Great House (9 a.m.-5 p.m daily, US$14) is the best example of a great house kept alive by the owners, Bob and Ann Betton, who live on property and manage the low-key tour operation. Built in the late 1600s by one of the wealthiest families of the British colonial period, the Barretts first landed in Jamaica on Cromwell's voyage of conquest, when the island was captured from the Spanish in 1655. Land grants immediately made the family a major landholder, and its plantations grew over the next 179 years to amass 2,000 slaves on seven estates by the time of emancipation. Greenwood Great House boasted the best stretch of road in Jamaica as its driveway. Little upkeep has been performed over the past four centuries, apparently, and today the 1.5-kilometer-long road requires slow going, but the panoramic view from the house and grounds are still as good as ever.

Interesting relics like hand-pump fire carts and old wagon wheels adorn the outside of the building. Inside the house is the best collection of colonial-era antiques in Jamaica, including obscure musical instruments, Flemish thrones, and desks with secret compartments from the 17th century. An inlaid rosewood piano belonged to King Edward VII, and a portrait of poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning's cousin hangs on the wall. Another historical treasure at the great house is the will of Reverend Thomas Burchell, who was arrested for his alleged role in the Christmas Rebellion.

Farther inland from Greenwood lie the ruins of Barrett Hall, the family's primary residence.


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