January 03, 2008

Jamaica Day 3 - Temple Hall

Today Peter took me on a drive up to Temple Hall and Castleton.

Temple Hall belonged to Simon Soutar, and, in my lifetime, to his grandson, Rowley Crosswell (my mother's brother.) The property itself used to include a tobacco plantation, cattle, vegetables, chickens - a self-sustaining mini-economy. Not much of any of that is evident now, and, in fact it feels abandoned. It has since been sold a couple of times, and is now being converted to a convention center. Fee says no one has been able to live there since it went out of the family, and mentioned duppies ...

The Great House looks beautiful from the outside, but is being renovated and "repurposed" inside. We found someone on the property who allowed us to go inside, so we were able to take a few photos from the balcony. He says the grounds are currently used for weddings and other outdoor functions.

The feature I remember most is the aqueduct that runs along the edge of the lawn. On the other side of the aqueduct is the Wagwater River. We would go down and sit on the rocks at a tiny falls and let the water wash over our shoulders. The weather was changeable, and the rain begin really coming down just as we were leaving.

Then we continued on up the road to Castleton, where there is a huge botanical garden. Peter said the British used it as a testing place to see what kinds of marketable plants would grow in Jamaica. Because it was drizzling, we didn't stay long or walk far. Photos are on Flickr in the Jamaica 2008 set.


PeonInChief said...

You've got pictures! Hooray!

annot8 said...

Absolutely! I changed the badge in the sidebar, so you can just click on it to get to the Jamaica album.

annot8 said...

For the person who asked via Meebo: yes, the sundial is still there, but may have been moved to the far side of the lawn. Peter remembers it closer to the middle of the lawn.

Dale said...


Thanks for posting these. My Grandmother is Rita Soutar and her sister Una Soutar was married to Rowley Crosswell for 50 odd years. Rita and Una's father was Collistan Soutar, one of Simon Soutar's sons (he had 18 children)

I grew up in Temple Hall and have visited the Great House a few times, over the years it was used as a restaurant and as you have posted been host grounds for various events.

The Soutar family still has substantial land holdings and presence in the area, and I am hard at work tracing the family tree back to Scotland into the early 1800s.

Cedric Johnson said...

Mr. Onis Johnson bought Temple Hall Great House from the Crosswell family in 1978. The house burn down in Nov 1978. His son return to Jamaica from the Air Force Jan 1980 to help with his father and mother (Dr. Ionie Johnson) with the family business(Farm Product).1980 started to rebuild the Great House with modern updates. completed in 1981 and son mother pass away 1981. His son return to the US. It was sold to family member (cousin) Mr. Smith about 1989. The Great House I saw in 2012 is in bad condition. The Jamaica Government need to restore the property.