St. Nicholas Abbey
Barbados has a long a storied past. Historic mansions, plantation homes, and massive private residences dot the island dating from the Colonial period over 300 years ago. One of the most stunning is the lovingly preserved manor house at the St. Nicholas Abbey in the parish of Saint Peter. This 350-year old sugar plantation housed an operational sugar mill and distillery up until the 1940s. The cane is still grown on the property and used to manufacture high-quality rum and other sugar goods available for purchase—an authentic piece of Caribbean history!
The Historic Jacobian Mansion at St. Nicholas Abbey
This old plantation house is unlike any other on Barbados. In fact, it is one of only three surviving Jacobian mansions in the western hemisphere.
Visitors are greeted by amazing curvilinear Dutch-style gables, an authentic Chinese Chippendale staircase, and an original walled medieval herb garden. This manor house is situated on over 100 hundred acres of beautifully maintained property, much of which is landscaped to perfection. Visitors can stroll the grounds enjoying the natural wonder of Barbados (including gorgeous mahogany and boxwood trees) or take complimentary guided tours of the house and attached sugar mill and distillery museum.
One of the most interesting pieces of history on site is a short film recorded in the 1930s which shows the sugar milling and rum production in full swing. It’s a peak into the past that you won’t find anywhere else.
The Tragic History of St. Nicholas Abbey
As beautiful as St. Nicholas Abbey and the surrounding grounds are, the house has a history of death and tragedy befitting any Gothic novel. Built as a sugar plantation in 1650 by Colonel Benjamin Berringer, the property didn’t stay in the family very long.
Berringer’s one-time friend and neighbor Sir John Yeamans always coveted the property, claiming the poorly established boundary lines always favored him. However, when he began to covet Berringer’s wife, things turned deadly.
Berringer challenged Yeamans to a duel but his skills proved inadequate. Berringer was killed, Yeamans married his widow, and the property passed to him—until Berringer’s children were successful in convincing a local judge that the property rightly belonged to them.
St. Nicholas Abbey Rum
One of the most notable things about St. Nicholas abbey is that it still produces rum in much the same way it was done in the 1650s when the plantation was established. The current owners forego the trappings of mass production and mechanization and oversee small batch cultivation of an exceptional product that’s held to a very high standard of quality.
You can sample this rum for free when you enter the old sugar mill and rum distillery museum on the property and purchase both 10 and 15 year old rums (as well as a variety of sugar products) at the shop at St. Nicholas Abbey.