The past is our definition. We may strive, with good reason, to escape it, or to escape what is bad in it, but we will escape it only by adding something better to it. -Wendell Berry
Jamaica has so many hidden gems in plain sight. Some of the most mundane looking buildings have some of the most fascinating stories to tell. Recently, I had the opportunity to explore two hidden gems in plain sight, the infamous Duppy Church in Mile Gully, Manchester & Colbeck Castle outside Old Harbour, St. Catherine.
St. George’s Anglican Church more commonly known as the Duppy Church, is an abandoned church located on the outskirts of the quaint town of Mile Gully in Manchester. Legend has it that it was ‘spirits’ who drove out the once vibrant congregants of the church.
For years, I hung of the words of my friend Kareem as he boasted about his rally days and his visit to the infamous church so when I was asked to present at a seminar in Manchester, I knew I had to embark on the quest to visit this fascinating spot.
We got lost along the way…multiple times but it made the adventure even sweeter.
When we got there, the place had a bit of an eerie vibe because it was dead silent…no pun intended. But it seemed to draw you in.
While there, we legit only saw a few vehicles passing. Prior to getting there, we had stopped at the Mile Gully Police Station, so at least we felt secure knowing that the Police knew the three of us were venturing there. The area is pretty secure but you can’t take much chances in secluded areas anywhere in the world.
The church is free to visit and it is on the main road therefore you won’t miss it. The newly renovated Appleton Tour has strategic signs along the way to the location including one right by the entrance to the church so you won’t miss it.
I really love that the church has so much character and when you enter the building you can’t help but wonder what stories the walls could tell.
I definitely recommend a visit to this gem hidden in plain sight.
The next stop on our adventure was the Colbeck Castle found a few miles outside the Old Harbour town centre. This was actually my second visit to this site; my first visit there the castle was overgrown and access to it was near impossible. I was elated to see that the site was cleared and obviously maintained now.
Colbeck Castle is a massive stone and brick ruin with walls standing to their full original height… Colbeck Castle was built about 1680, is currently owned by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust.
Defence against the Spaniards was an important consideration for the English settlers in this early period and Colbeck Castle apparently was intended to be a key point in this defence.
Consequently the Palladio style of architecture was adopted for this building. It is solid and imposing and designed along the lines of a Seventeenth Century Italian mansion.
The castle is believed to have been built by John Colbeck who is said to have come to Jamaica with Penn and Venables in 1655. He lived there for 28 years dying in 1683.
The National Housing Trust is actually in the process of selling lots and homes in a housing development aptly named The Villages of Colbeck. I think it would be really cool to have this historic gem in your backyard.
The beauty of Colbeck Castle is that the property is still fully accessible so with a little imagination you can imagine the property at the height of its splendour.
I definitely recommend at least one visit to this beautiful Jamaican ‘castle.’
In true Shanny fashion I made a vlog so join me as I tour these gems:
Until next trek