The Greenwood Great House

On Christmas of 1831, a man named Sam Sharpe lead a slave rebellion that spread throughout Jamaica. Plantation owners fled and most of the great plantation houses were looted and burned to the ground. Only a very few great houses were not destroyed, and Greenwood was one of them.

Greenwood Great House


Why were some plantations spared? It is said that if a house survived the rebellion, it is because the owners were kind to their slaves. Greenwood Great House was the estate of Hersey Barrett, who was one of the only plantation owners in Jamaica known to educate his slaves. He reportedly gave them rest, good healthcare, and treated them kindly. The fact that his house remains to this day with the original furniture, books, maps, and treasures in tact may be proof of that.


The house had magnificent jungle-like gardens.


The man who owns this collection is black. I wonder what it must be like for a black man to own a whip that was once used to discipline slaves? I couldn’t imagine living in a house where this hangs on the wall.


This is a man trap. It would be laid between the bushes and camouflaged with branches in pathways that were likely to be used if a slave tried to escape. If triggered, it partially or entirely removed his or her foot.


A courtship couch, meant to preserve chastity between a girl and her suitor. Those Victorians really had some funny ideas about propriety.


Many of the Great House’s musical instruments still played, like this Polyphone. You can enjoy a bit of the music below.