Greenwood Great House

Top choice house in Ironshore & Rose Hall

This marvelous estate, sitting high on a hill, is not as famous as Jamaica's most famous great house, but offers a far more intimate and interesting experience. Unique among local plantation houses, Greenwood survived unscathed during the slave rebellion of Christmas 1831. Most of the furnishings are authentic, and some of the rare objects are truly remarkable. Greenwood is 11km east of Ironshore and around 10km west of Falmouth, off the A1; turn inland and follow the pitted road uphill.

Construction of the two-story, stone-and-timber structure was begun in 1780 by the Honorable Richard Barrett, whose family arrived in Jamaica in the 1660s and amassed a fortune from its sugar plantations. (Barrett was a cousin of the famous English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning.) In an unusual move for his times, Barrett educated his slaves.

The original library is still intact, as are oil paintings, a 1626 map of Africa and plentiful antiques, including a mantrap used for catching runaway slaves (one of the few direct references we found in any Jamaican historical home to the foundations of the plantation labor market, ie slavery). Among the highlights is the rare collection of musical instruments, including an exquisitely inlaid piano made for Edward VII by Thomas Broadwood (who made pianos for Beethoven), one of three working barrel organs in the world and two polyphones, one of which the guide is happy to bring to life. The resident ghost is decidedly low-key and you can drink in the view of the entire coast from the upstairs veranda.

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