Living In Hope

In Lifestyle

There are 46 places with the word “content” in their names, “friendship” and “hope” can be found in several parishes in Jamaica. Content relates to a state of mind and the friendship to a common sentiment. The familiar term “hope” appears in the parish of St Andrew where roads, housing neighbourhoods, a river and a botanical garden are named after Major Roger Hope who was a member of the English army that seized Jamaica from the Spanish in 1655.

Hope, along with many army officers, was granted land in recognition of his contribution to defeating the Spanish. Over a period of time he accumulated 2,417 acres which were to become known as the Hope Estate. He employed soldiers from the disbanded English army to clear the thick woodlands and hunt down the feral pigs and cattle abandoned by the Spanish. Before his death in 1670 Roger Hope with a contingent of slaves and succeeded by his widow and daughter had founded a highly successful sugar plantation. In 1816 the Hope landscape began in the highest part of the gradual land due East of Kingston known as the Liguanea Plains and known as Mango Walk. It was 400 feet above sea level and probably four degrees cooler than the harbour-side. It contained a reliable stream known as the Hope River with an aqueduct 700 feet in length. Built in the mid 1750’s and parts of it are still in existence on the grounds of the University of the West Indies. Nearby was the sugar mill, boiling house, curing house and associated factory buildings as well as dwellings for the slaves, an overseers house and a great house of which there is no evidence today but were probably in the vicinity of College Common.

Like all other plantations in Jamaica the end of slave-trading (1807) and slavery (1838) Hope Estate, having the heavy burden of its owner’s debts – the English Dukes of Buckingham and Chandos had married into the Hope dynasty – entered an era of financial decline. By 1839 Hope was leased out to a Mr. Joseph Gordon but the estate’s collapse as a sugar estate was well in motion. The Kingston and Liguanea Waterworks Company was to obtain the Hope Estate waterworks and 634 acres of former cane land and its four-ninths rights to the water taken up from Hope River. An area of 1,700 acres located on the foothills half a mile east of Papine and the Hope River was later leased for a mining venture which failed, then Louis Verley who in turn rented parts out to small settlers. Robert Thompson, cleared a hundred acres by 1874 for an experimental agricultural facility and a botanical garden. Hope Gardens as it is generally known, has never looked back, expanding in size to include a plant nursery, a zoo, and a variety of botanical displays.

The Mona and Papine estate lie adjacent to Hope Estate. The former including Hope Pastures and Mona Heights, latter being acquired by Thomas Verley including the current Mona Great House, formerly Mona Hotel. Mona Estate included Bamboo Pen near Matilda’s Corner, now the site of the US Embassy.

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