Speightstown is the second largest of Barbados’ four main towns. Located on the West Coast of the island, this town is steeped in the island’s rich history and culture. Here are five interesting things you probably didn’t know about Historic Speightstown:
Speightstown was actually named after William Speight who originally owned all the land where this area is located in St. Peter. Mr. Speight was a wealthy merchant who became a member of the island’s very first parliament, led by Governor Henry Hawley in 1639. You might still occasionally hear a local refer to it as “Spykestown” because in 1640 Captain John Swan drew a map of the area and labelled it “Spykeses Bay”.
The First Major Port
Speightstown was the first port in Barbados which conducted lucrative trade between the island and England, mainly Bristol. The seaport was busy with ships full of tobacco, cotton and sugar. As a result of this relationship with Bristol, Speightstown became known as “Little Bristol”.
Back in the day, because of its importance to the island, this area was surrounded by several forts to protect it from invasion. Despite this, it was still invaded by English troops led by Admiral Sir George Ayscue in 1651. This was the only such invasion of Barbados. Sir George was sent to the island to end the uprising, but the residents of Barbados remained loyal to Charles I, which aided in keeping Sir George away for around six months. The noted attacks on Speightstown were repelled by the numerous small forts along the shoreline that protected the area.
Elaborate homes and grand warehouses were built by merchants which displayed the affluence of the town during that time. Many of these colonial buildings were destroyed in 1941, but some historical buildings from this time were spared from demolition such as Arlington House and can still be seen on Queens Street, the main street in this town.
Oldest Parish Church
St. Peter’s Parish Church is one of the island’s oldest churches and it can be found on Church Street, Speightstown, having been built during the 1630’s. The original building, unfortunately, did not survive the wrath of a hurricane in 1831 and had to be rebuilt and then was once again destroyed by fire in 1980. It is now fully restored and still reflects its deep history.
This quaint town is full of Barbados’ rich history. Today, it is also home to some of the island’s best restaurants. If you’re intrigued and want to explore this town, book your stay at the neighbouring Port Ferdinand, and we would be happy to assist you with your planning.