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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The "A Visit To Cheshire Hall" Story

Joe, our tour guide at Cheshire Hall.
It was an ordinary day.  Listening to our tour guide, Joe, tell us why a few feet were added to the top of the well in the early 2000s that was located on Cheshire Hall in the Blue Hill area of Providenciales (Provo).  Seems that every island in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea that Carol and I have visited in the past fifteen years has a story to tell.  
Entrance to Cheshire Hall Cotton Plantation.
The island of Provo is no different.  During our country's Revolu- 

tionary War, many of those who owned land in the southern states were originally Loyalists or those faithful to England during the Revolution.  Then, in 1778, when the British armies pulled out of the south, many of the Loyalist abandoned their land and fled, along with their slaves, to British-held Florida.  
This is a replica of what the slave cabin would look like.
Later they found their way to into the Bahamas which at the time included the Turks & Caicos Islands.  Thomas Stubbs was one such person who settled on Provo, which at the time was known as Blue Caicos.  He was inspired by his brother Wade, who had a successful cotton plantation on North Caicos, and purchased land in the late 1700s and built a property that included a Main House, slave cabins, kitchen, cistern, well and a cotton press base.  

Joe is showing us how they would grind the
corn for use as meal or perhaps flour, if
ground fine enough.
Named it Cheshire after the area in his home country of England.  During it's heyday, Cheshire Hall consisted of close to 5,000 acres and had about 1000 slaves.  The land was used for cotton farming as well as to grow food for the owner, slaves and animals.  All went well until the soil became depleted and there were infestations of the chenille worm and red bug.  Thomas ended up selling his plantation to his brother Wade in 1810.  In 1822 Wade Stubbs died and left behind his property as well as 384 slaves.  It sat as ruins until Provo created a National Trust and took over what property remained and tried to return the plantation to its original condition.  A replica of a slave cabin was created, unearthed relics have been used where possible and the crumbling limestone ruins have been stabilized.  
A well was dug closely to supply the plantation with water.
In 2003 Cheshire Hall was once again opened, but this time for public tours.  As we walked around the grounds, Joe told us the story of the plantation and showed us the remains of the buildings that at one time made the plantation the jewel of Provo.  I have included some of the photos I took and describe what they may be.  Oh, yeah .... they added the extra foot or two to the top of the well before they opened the property to the public so that school children wouldn't get to close to the ground level well and fall into it.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary day. 
This cannon was used to protect the island from invaders.  It was moved to this spot, from the waterfront, just for display. 
This was a storage building for the plantation.  On the interior walls can be seen openings where wooden shelves had been placed to hold supplies.
The remains of the plantation owners house.  Remarkable how buildings were built without the use of modern equipment.  Cheshire Hall must have been an amazing working cotton plantation.  It is such a shame that the government didn't see fit to preserve it before it's preservation was almost impossible to achieve.  So much history has been lost since this historical site wasn't opened until about ten years ago.  

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