Nevis: History and a Heritage Trail
Nevis has a rich history for such a small island and a Heritage Trail.
I love the Caribbean islands and each year I am trying to visit one or two new ones. This year we flew from Grenada via St Kitts taking the short water taxi ride to the tiny island of Nevis. Tiny it may be however it is steeped in history and culture. The island has a marked Heritage Trail which you can follow, either by island tour or as we did by hiring a car and travelling around the island on our own.
The Heritage Trail is marked by blue and green signs featuring a walking monkey at each important place, some holding more significance than others but all interesting and worth following the map to find them. We visited most of the Heritage Trail and here is what we discovered:-
Nisbet Plantation:- Now a luxury plantation house hotel set in a beautiful estate with the well known ‘Palm Tree Walk’ from the plantation house to the beach it was once the home of Fanny Nisbet who married Horatio Nelson. We stayed for a week at Nisbet Plantation and I will be going into detail in a later post.
St James Anglican Church:- (c1750) This church is one of only three churches in the Caribbean to have a black crucifix. The church is small and airy
Nelson’s Spring:- a spot on the side of the road that you could easily miss except for this sign. This spot provided fresh spring water for the sailors on the ships patrolling the Caribbean waters to enforce the British Navigation Acts. Although there is not much to see from roadside the spring is still used to provide fresh water to the islanders.
Hermitage Estate:- (circa 1640) Said to possibly be the oldest surviving wooden house on the island and even the Lesser Antilles it is now a family run hotel with a difference. The guest rooms are cottages many of which have been rescued from around the island. Each cottage is decorated in beautiful colonial style providing every comfort for you ‘home away from home’ and each guest is encouraged to treat the estate as home! I will be covering Hermitage Estate more in a future post – please keep an eye out for it.
Bath Hotel and Bath House:- (circa 1778 – only a couple of years after the American colonies had gained their independence from Britain) Reputed to be the oldest hotel in the Caribbean it is quite an imposing building on a hill with amazing views of the sea and Mt Nevis behind. The views are stunning and worth a stop off point to take a few photos. Just at the bottom of the hill are the thermal spring baths where locals and tourists alike bathe in the hot waters to help skin and aches and pains. More photos coming soon!
Cottle Church:- (circa 1824) Currently a haunting ruins standing in a clearing down a bumpy road this was once built by English planter Thomas Cottle on his land to provide a place of worship for his family as well as his slaves.
St Thomas Anglican Church and School:- (circa 1643) claims to be the oldest active Prostestant church in the Caribbean with graves dating from 1649. The structure suffered damage by earthquake several times and still standing.
Montpelier Estate:- The estate is on the site where Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson wed Fanny Nisbet in 1787. Currently Montpelier Estate is an Inn with an award winning restaurant (voted one of the top 50 Caribbean restaurants in 2017). For private dining you can eat in the remains of the windmill used to provide the power to crush the sugar cane to produce the sugar for which this island and the surrounding islands were so important.
Alexander Hamilton Birthplace:- Alexander Hamilton was born on the island of Nevis however he was needed to help in the family business and moved to the nearby island of St Croix before being sent to New York City for his education. Hamilton became the first Treasury Security of the fledgling United States in 1790 and was active in the drafting of the Declaration of Independence. He was killed in a duel on 11 July 1804 by the then Vice President Aaron Burr. His place in history has been guaranteed as his face is on the US$10.00!
There is more to the Nevis Heritage Trail such as Saddle Hill Fortress – Nelson’s Look out which is the best preserved fortress on Nevis, St John’s Figure Anglican Church – Site of the recording of Horatio Nelson and Fanny Nisbet’s marriage, Nevis Slave Market – Site where newly arrived slaves were sold to plantation owners from various islands and many more hidden secrets making it worth hiring a car and getting to know this island gem.
British Airways flies to St Kitts twice a week then it is a short water taxi ride to Nevis.