The Open House programme is presented by the Barbados National Trust.
Sion Hill, St. James is this week’s Open House.
Sion Hill House was built around 1780 as a storeroom. The house became a dwelling when the original plantation house was destroyed, either by fire or hurricane. The gallery and bedroom wing were added in the reconstruction. The house has been in the Massiah/Ward family since then. In 1997-98, the house was completely rebuilt; only the original walls were retained. The style remains late 18th century, however, and old materials such as ballast bricks were re-used when possible. The cistern was converted into a swimming pool, and the yam cellar to a laundry room. The interior contains family heirlooms as well as antiques obtained at auction from other historic properties. The Wards made further adaptations by converting outbuildings into dwellings and a pottery studio, and building a small cluster of housing with a second pool. They also built a holiday apartment for visitors downstairs, and offer local rates for staycations.
Due largely to the vagaries of the sugar industry, much of the plantation land was sold off and became the elegant area known as Turtleback Ridge, but Sion Hill House still has generous acreage. The whole hillside property is beautifully landscaped. Fruit trees, flowers, and a kitchen garden make it a varied place to explore. There’s also a magnificent view down to the west coast.
The afternoon’s Lively Lecture will be given by the resident owner, Mrs. Ruth Ward, who will speak about the property and answer questions from Open House patrons.
Cocktails will be served on the lawns while steel pan music wafts through the extensive grounds.
In addition to the usual fare at the refreshment stall, the BADMC will be showcasing locally made gluten-free products and sharing information on how to use them.
Drive north on Highway 2A, passing the large roundabout at St. Thomas Church and the turn to Apes Hill. Soon after the sign pointing to Lower Carlton on the left, look on the right for the turn to Turtleback Ridge. Take it and go uphill. Watch for Open House signs. There is generous parking on site.
General Bds $35.00
Children under 5 Free
BARP, AARP and CARP Members Bds $30.00
Members of the Barbados National Trust Bds $25.00 upon presentation of membership card. Also applicable to reciprocating Trusts and Societies members.
Children 12-17 y.o. and Students (BCC, UWI and Polytechnic with ID): Bds $15.00
Dress nicely casual.
No pre-booking is needed. Just follow the directions – look for the signs.
Call the Barbados National Trust at 426-2421 for more information and to ensure that the viewing is on as advertised.
Barbados National Trust Open Houses
The Open Houses Programme is a Winter Season Tradition in Barbados presented by the Barbados National Trust (BNT). It allows visitors and residents alike access to some of the island’s loveliest houses. Discover more about our island’s diverse architecture and history.
The programme includes all types of houses – from the grand old plantation houses rich with centuries of history, to the newer, luxurious Bajan-style villas.
Grounds and gardens are part of the attraction. Sip your rum punch in stunning tropical settings.
The BNT sets up a bazaar with books and crafts people. Refreshments are on sale.
In addition, they provide historical and architectural information which you can take home with you at no additional cost.
At 3:15 pm, short lectures are given by the BNT’s experts on heritage. These are:
Prof Henry Fraser – a past president of Barbados National Trust and the author of ‘Historic Houses of Barbados’ and ‘Treasures of Barbados.’
Mr. Peter Stevens – BNT’s current president.
The Barbados National Trust was founded in 1961 to preserve our unique heritage – be it historic buildings, place of natural beauty or out flora and fauna.
It’s a very active Trust and was recently successful in achieving UNESCO International Heritage Site status for Bridgetown and its Garrison.