Historical Jamaica plantation toursPosted on: 24 April 2017 by Anthony Page
Plantation tours offer a chance to connect with Jamaica’s colonial-era heritage. Tony Page takes a tour of two of the island's historic estates in the Montego Bay / Ocho Rios area: the Prospect and Hampden Plantations.
It is an uncomfortable truth for the people of the United that plantation ownership in Jamaica and the slave trade went hand in hand. The trade in human cargo delivered enormous economic wealth to the Britain for around 200 years until slavery was outlawed in 1834. Knowing this I was both curious to see a plantation for real but at the same time put off when thinking about the misery it brought to the enslaved workers.
Our first visit was to the Prospect Plantation at Ocho Rios. On arrival, we were decamped from our minibus to a tractor drawn open carriage capable of holding about thirty visitors at a time.
The tour of the estate took us through an amazing collection of rare trees leading up to the plantation’s main house. As nice as it was it did not match my expectation of a plantation owners residence. Of course, my vision was clouded by the endless viewings of ‘Gone with the Wind’. The Prospect house is similar in style just not as big or as grand. Winston Churchill was a friend of the family who owned the estate and regularly visited.
Part of the excursion was to cook your own authentic Jamaican meal for lunch. We had a lovely lady show us how to make Spicy Chicken, Prawn Curry, Farmhouse Greens and rice plus of course the obligatory Jamaican ‘Favourites’ savoury doughnuts! The meal was really good: wholesome and filling and all the better for having cooked it yourself!
Our second visit was very much up my street – a rum producing plantation at Trelawny complete with a very English looking grand house, manicured gardens alongside a commercial distillery! I did acquire the taste for Jamaican rum on this trip and the Reserve is now ranked alongside the many good fine Malts that have been my trusted friends for the past 50 years.
The plantation is managed by Pepe Grant who gave up life in the financial district of New York, married and set about a complete life change in Jamaica.
Pepe was very good company painting a vivid history of the plantation and its owners as well as letting me sample a selection of rums used in the blending – one was nearly a hundred years old! Nectar of the Gods! Though, he wouldn’t let me take the remainder of the bottle home – what a spoil sport!
For more information about the tours of the island's historic plantation and trips in and around Jamaica, contact the Jamaica Tourist Board (020 7225 9090), or see www.visitjamaica.com.
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