Inside the Dh23.8 million Caribbean home that once hosted the queen
Often referred to as the Queen Mother’s Caribbean retreat, villa is ensconced within Jamaica’s exclusive Tryall Club
A few kilometres west of the bustling port city of Montego Bay lies a centuries-old estate with a colourful history. Originally the home of native Arawak Indians, the land was captured by the Spanish in the 15th century. British political leader Oliver Cromwell constructed Fort Tryall to repel pirates and Spaniards in the 1650s.
The Browne family, which had long established connections with the island of Jamaica, acquired the estate in the 19th century and remained owners for 100 years, cultivating sugar, coconut and pimento. To date, hundreds of pimento trees are dotted across the estate, the scent of allspice prominent in the early morning breeze. The Flint River, fed by springs from the mountains that form the eastern border of the property, runs through the plantation for more than six kilometres before flowing into the sweeping Tryall Bay, manned by a cannon and jetty where the English once defended its shores.
In the 1960s, the estate was bought by nobleman Henry Fairchild, who developed Tryall as a fully functioning sugar plantation, and installed a cut-stone aqueduct and functioning waterwheel. Remains of the structures, as well as the fort, can be found to this day to the east of the estate. Little Hill, meanwhile, is nestled plum in the centre of what has since become a lifestyle destination, with luxury villas for rent, multiple restaurants, a Ralph Plummer-designed golf course and a beach club. Little Hill and the Tryall estate are recognised by the Government of Jamaica as part of the country’s National Heritage.
The villa was completed in 1959 by architect Robert Hartley in the West Indian style, in keeping with its panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea. The first home to be built within Tryall, the 930-square-metre residence is perched atop a 61-metre hill. Before it was refurbished in 2012, Little Hill played host to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, as well as a number of other royals and celebrities.
In its current iteration, the villa rises up around a circular nine-metre swimming pool, with its outer periphery surrounded by a wraparound veranda and landscaped gardens bursting with bougainvillaea and a sculptured lotus pond. Entry is via double mahogany doors that open onto a two-level hall fitted with murals, a grand chandelier, and floors and a staircase made from 18-century cut stone. The stairs lead up to the main level with its cathedral-ceilinged living room, dining room and family room, all done up in shades of blue and white. A trio of smaller spaces are currently being used as a flower room, music centre, and bar and card room.
The master suite comprises two bedrooms, three en-suite marble bathrooms and an office. The villa also comes with several private balconies, and is flanked by terraces on either side, one covered and the other al fresco, to make year-round entertaining possible. One overlooks a tennis court that comes with a covered spectator-viewing area.
A separate wing contains three guest en-suite bedrooms. The rooms are united by their mahogany flooring and locally hand-carved doors. Should owners wish to entertain larger parties, the Tryall Club houses a number of condos available to rent.
Staff quarters, also renovated eight years ago, include five bedrooms, two bathrooms and a separate kitchen. Other additions include fan and air-conditioning units, a powder bathroom and a kitchen fitted with mod-con equipment. For its asking price of $6.5 million via Christie’s International Real Estate, the property comes fully furnished, and inclusive of a cheery collection of Jamaican paintings, fine linens and china, various objets d’art, three golf carts and a private staff of seven.
Updated: February 12, 2020 02:34 PM