|The St. Christopher National Trust is very disheartened about the loss of another structure at one of its Heritage Site, the Mansion Great House.|
On Tuesday 25th May, 2021, a fire broke out at around 10:40 P.M. in the great house at Mansion Estate, destroying what was the largest and main building on the Estate which was constructed mainly of wood with a stone-base foundation. While there is no clear evidence of what caused the fire at the Estate, it was felt that the fire was ignited by wilful acts and malice.
A visit to the scene and conversation with farmer Trevor Herbert and Mr. Wigley, who lives on the Estate revealed another interesting story as they claimed that the fire on Tuesday night had been caused by the presence of someone who might have been occupying the house.
The Fire Services Unit in Tabernacle was contacted and summoned to investigate and suppress the fire. The farmers at the site were quite efficient in their attempt to out the fire using garden hoses in an effort to protect the house occupied by Mr. Wigley and the surrounding areas before the arrival of the Fire Service Unit. The team deployed to fight the fire reported that it was not an easy fire to contain and it took them up until 6 A.M. the following morning to bring the fire fully under control.
It was only last year 03rd June 2020, a grass fire broke out around 2:30 P.M. in the lower part of the Estate that quickly spread and engulfed a vast area of the bush and farmlands resulting in the loss of another permanent structure on the Estate. That building was constructed mostly of stone with some wooden fixtures.
Mansion Estate can be traced back to the first half of the eighteenth century when the Honourable William Woodley owned it. The Estate was originally a sugar plantation and at that time sugar was extracted using an animal mill. Sometime after 1850, a steam mill was built and installed on the Estate. The property was passed through the Woodley family until 1860 when it was bankrupted. However, in 1879 it was bought at auction for £16,000 by Paget Wade who renamed the property “Mansion”. The property stayed in the Wade family until the second half of the 20th century when it was nationalized by the St. Kitts government and became a vested site of the St. Christopher National Trust. The site is currently occupied by the former property manager, Mr. Wigley and is used by local farmers for crop and livestock farming.
Mansion Estate Yard has been inventoried as a number 2(two) ranking heritage site which was highlighted for development into a Field Study Centre. Facilities that were expected to be provided at the site include:
a. a library, training, and study facilities as well as accommodation (camping and housing) for visitors, local and overseas wishing to undertake study tours on the island.
b. The site will provide models and training in alternative agriculture practices to make a smooth transition to non-sugar agriculture.
c. Mansions to be the site of a Medicinal Herb demonstration garden, and the sale of plants and products.
d. development of trails for eco-tours into the nearby mountains as well as guided tours
This fire brings to the forefront the urgency for the restoration of our heritage sites for their continued protection and preservation. The Trust implores all right-thinking citizens and residents to help in the protection of our heritage by reporting malicious acts to the Trust or the authorities and to cease and desists from such destructive acts. As our motto says “Our Heritage Belongs to All of Us!”.
|The images above show Mansion Estate Great House after being destroyed by fire.|
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|We Need Your Help…|
The St. Christopher National Trust embarked on a project to digitize our research and documentation center to ensure that the information, photos, newspapers, and other important historical documents are protected from being destroyed by natural or manmade disasters.
In 2020 we received a Grant from the International National Trust Organization (INTO) to support the project and we were able to acquire some critical pieces of equipment such as scanners, computers, slides and photograph reader, and storage hard drives. What the Trust needs to complete this project are the following:
d. Battery packs
e. Technical assistance
Persons willing to assist the Trust with the acquisition of needed equipment can contact us at 465-5584 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Mukti Documentation and Research Centre (Doc Centre) houses the National Trust collection of books, documents, reports, manuscripts, newspapers, photographs, maps, videos, tapes, and any information that contributes to the historical identity of St. Kitts. The collection contributes to the National Trust’s custodial work of preserving and promoting our cultural and historic heritage (traditions, customs, music, visual and performing arts, our monuments, buildings, and historic sites) and the natural environment. The ‘Doc Centre’, unlike any library, has both published and unpublished material available for access to the general public and members of the Trust. The material is often referred to as the “engine of the National Trust” as it drives almost every aspect of the Trusts’ work.
Our documentation center is widely used by locals, visitors, consultants working on private sector projects, and students conducting research for papers, school projects, or historical facts about the island’s rich history. It is therefore important that we protect and preserve it digitally for posterity.