Like all of its Caribbean neighbors, St Kitts history still strongly marks the island. A tour of the island will show you old sugar plantations, stone fortresses, and the European architecture of the time. One of the most celebrated sites on St Kitts island is the oldest dutch village and its residence, Romney Manor.
Established in the 17th century during the first period of significant colonial expansion, this property in the federation of Saint kitts and Nevis has been owned by only six families for over 350 years. Today, the beautiful Romney Manor is a reflection of St Kitts’s history through its ancient charm. And it definitely has a lot of tales to tell to the curious tourist!
The island group is also known as St Christopher and Nevis after the patron Saint Christopher.
St Kitts history at the Romney Manor
Until the colonizers took possession of the property around Romney Manor, the site is thought to have been controlled by Chief Tegremond, chief of the Carib Indian tribe of St Kitts island. Soon after the European colonizers defeated the native tribes, the land became the property of Thomas Jefferson’s ancestors. Many of the buildings of the once productive tobacco plantation known as the Wingfield Estate date back to this early colonial era.
Adjacent to the Wingfield Estate, the Earls of Romney built their own vast plantation. And, by the year 1735, they owned both plantations.
The story of the 18th-century Romney Manor is, in many respects, not only St Kitts history but the story of all the Caribbean. In the fields, African slaves worked on the planting of sugar cane, while the Romneys tended to their airy Caribbean home. A
After the emancipation of the slaves in 1834, the sugar production slowed considerably, not only at Romney Manor but also throughout the area. As more Caribbean nations achieved independence in the 19th and 20th decades, plantation cultivation came to an end and colonial institutions such as Romney Manor fell into disrepair. However, in 1974, this glorious land was once again at the heart of industry, culture, and St Kitts History.
Visiting Romney Manor on St Kitts Island today
Today, Romney Manor is home to one of the most celebrated local businesses on St Kitts Island: Caribelle Batik. Using the traditional Indonesian form of treating fabrics with wax to resist applying the dye, Caribelle Batik artisans have been making their clothing and tapestries for over 30 years, so they’re already part of St Kitts history in a way. If you visit Romney Manor, you can see the artists at work and even practice their techniques through interactive presentations. Known for their longevity and imaginative crafts, the handcrafted artworks of Caribelle Batik are some of the best souvenirs you can find on St Kitts Island!
Going outside Romney Manor, you’ll discover some of the most stunning botanical gardens on St Kitts Island. Spread over six acres, the gardens have multiple types of tropical flowers and plenty of animal life.
An over 400-year-old stately Saman Tree, also known as the Rain Tree, is at the center of the gardens. Having witnessed centuries of St Kitts history, this giant tree has long been one of the most visited attractions at the Romney Manors. In several ways, the Saman Tree and the gardens over which it grows contribute to the magnificent atmosphere of this place on St Kitts Island.
At the farthest reaches of the Romney Manor botanical gardens, you can also see the emergence of thick tropical rainforest islands. When you walk through the remains of the oldest plantation in St Kitts history, you can hear the inhabitants of the rainforests calling to one another. You can also see the land rising and transforming into the volcanic peak of Mount Liamuiga.
If you want to visit areas of the rainforest around Romney Manor, there are guides available to help you find the right trails and to educate you about the natural richness of the island of Saint Kitts.
A lot of tourists visit Romney Manor everyday t o learn about St Kitts history, so it’s easy to find it when you go see it yourself. Probably more than any other destination on the island, Romney Manor has a lot of tales from St Kitts history to share. You’ll get to know how the island used to be and compare it to how it changed over the years.
Romney Manor on St Kitts Island
Open from Monday to Friday year-round between 08.30 and 16.00, and on Saturday only from November to March, between 09.00 and 13.00. Closed on Sundays.
Tickets cost $4,00 for adults and children under 11 to enter for free.
Address: Old Road Town, Basseterre St. Kitts | See on map
Tel. +1 869-465-6253
Featured image by Higgel [CC-BY 3.0]
Cristina Popescu is a Romanian blogger who has been traveling since 2008. She has visited 100+ countries across all the continents and accumulated firsthand knowledge about beautiful travel destinations. There is nothing she won’t try at least once in a lifetime and she wishes to encourage others to get out and see the world, too.
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