Open House Tour at Codrington College
Continuing with my plan to explore and document local experiences of my own island home, I checked the Totally Barbados events calendar and discovered that The Barbados National Trust was having an open house at Codrington College in St. John.
I called around to see if I could get anyone to take the scenic drive with me but everyone had alternate plans, so once again I set off on my own.
The drive is a lovely one as I meandered through country roads, passed the renowned Kendal Duck Pond and smiled to myself at the baby ducklings’ antics as they paddled about on the pond following their mummy duck.
I was not really sure the exact directions to get to Codrington College, so I stopped twice along the way to check with pedestrians walking along the road who were very helpful, and gave directions along with the hand ‘gesticulations’ so common in all Bajans, who can’t speak without help from their hands.
I passed by Lodge School which I was soon to learn had started off at Codrington, and then moved to the location where it now stands. I recall many stories I have heard about The Lodge School Boarders walking to the Codrington Girls School and the trouble they seemed to get themselves into.
As I rounded a corner on the steep Society Hill (by Codrington High School) I came across a troupe of monkeys playing in the street. They remind me of children playing ‘catcha’. One had a baby clinging to its under belly and as the car drew closer they darted off into the underbrush and all that was evident that they had been present was the swaying of the bush tops as they darted between the wild bush.
As I turned my jeep down the long drive way lined with tall, majestic cabbage palms, which I have done so many times before on one or another island tour, I was once again in awe of the ambiance of absolute peace that surrounds this property.
The rolling green lawns that are immaculately kept. The cricket pitch perched off to one side. The small playground nestled in some trees by the road. The large lily pond that is teaming with wild life of ducks, egrets, tadpoles, koi and other fish.
Many garden benches sprinkled around the pond which beg for one to stop and sit on, and just immerse yourself in the moment. Again the one word to describe the scene is ‘serene’.
I wondered through the parts of the College that were open to the public and most of the rooms have been converted to classrooms even the Mary Magdalene Chapel according to the book called “Codrington College – A Brief History by John Holder”, which was given complimentary to all visitors.
This College is the oldest tertiary school in the English speaking Caribbean and was founded in 1745. Can you imagine that back in the day, with the only form of transportation being a horse and buggy, they had a school teaching Mathematics, Theology and Classics?
This school was in the middle of nowhere…a day’s travel from Bridgetown…back in the days of slavery. Amazing.
The College is named after Christopher Codrington who was born in Barbados in 1668 and lived in the “Principal” quarters on this property. He was sent back to England at the age of eleven to further his education.
Once again the thought blows my mind….he would have had to sail across the Atlantic and brave the rough seas in an old sail borne schooner at eleven.
A child who had grown up running free on a plantation of many acres where he probably fished in the pond, ran between the fields of cane, interacted with all who lived on the plantation was shipped off to dreary old England.
No computer or cell phone to communicate with home, the only communication would have been with hand written letters. Letters written with quill and ink and then sailed across the sea…..an endeavor that would have taken months.
I am heart broken when my kids leave for University and I have the privilege of communicating with them daily. Life was really difficult back then. But Christopher Codrington’s heart remained here in Barbados and as a young man he returned with a dream to educate men and to bring Christianity to all, even the slaves.
At 30 years old he wrote a will leaving Codrington College to become a school and now 268 years later his dreams are still being fulfilled the college has withstood hurricanes, an earthquake and a fire…..through many generous donations Codrington College still stands in all of its majesty.
The view from the huge front lawn of Codrington takes your breath away. It looks down on the wild east coast and you can clearly see the glistening turquoise Consett Bay and St. Marks Church stark white standing against the clear blue sky.
Again this expansive outlook is completely serene. I can think of no other place on earth that would more suit an Anglican Theological College than being located in this quiet setting.
As Archbishop of the West Indies and Bishop of Barbados Dr. John Holder said “we need to treasure these treasures that we have inherited in this island. Buildings like Codrington College, they are not really ours to own but ours to protect and to pass on in good shape.”
I had another wonderful evening, listening to Senator Henry Fraser tell stories about this ancient home come school. These walls have so many stories to tell and you can almost imagine life as it was if you close your eyes and let the tropical breeze that frolics through the trees wash over you.
Perhaps I was supposed to visit Codrington College by myself, if I had a companion I may have been so busy chatting that I would have missed the essence of this experience as I have done so many times before.
I personally would like to thank the Barbados National Trust for helping to preserve our historical buildings for the future of our Nation.
Visit the official website of Codrington College.
Read other experiences of mine in and about Barbados.
By: Anna Page