Wingfield Estate is adjacent to Wingfield River in a lush rainforest located in Old Road Town, St. Kitts. The estate is set in the picturesque foothills of the island’s central mountain range, with elevations over 3000 ft. One of the unique aspects of this area is the Wingfield watershed. This is a natural resource that covers hundreds of acres, depositing water into Wingfield River. The watershed provides the island with more than ¾ of the island's water requirement.
Wingfield Estate is one of four places on St. Kitts that has 17th century Amerindian petroglyphs (a carving or inscription on a rock). The petroglyphs of Wingfield Estate are considered to be amongst one of the finest examples of rock carvings in the Lesser Antilles, and on St. Kitts they are one of the most accessible. Local folklore states that Carib Chief Tegreman, a powerful Amerindian chief who ruled several islands, had his village within the grounds of Romney Manor.
Wingfield was the first land grant in the English West Indies in 1625. The property's original crops were tobacco & indigo, dating from 1625 to the 1650s. Sugar cane became more profitable and was continuously grown on the site for 350 years, from the 1650s to the mid-2000s.
The sugar industry functioned over the centuries using, in order: animal-driven, water-driven, and eventually steam-driven methods of crushing the cane. Water power was used from the 1600s to 1920s, with aqueducts and a water turbine unique in the Eastern Caribbean.
In 2013, we discovered the original rum distillery. It had been buried for many years. This is one of our most exciting discoveries. We have established as a fact that rum has been produced by this estate since 1681, although we believe it began sooner than this and continue our research to ascertain the exact dates of operation. As such, Wingfield's is recognized as the oldest intact distillery in the Caribbean.
The grounds still contain remarkable masonry, which includes: aqueduct, chimney, mill house for crushing cane, boiling house, distillery, lime kiln, subterranean tunnel, and so much more. Archaeological digs are an ongoing process.
The site not only has links with the Amerindian Chief Tegreman, but also to the direct ancestors of the American president Thomas Jefferson, and to the Earl of Romney of England. Please visit our History of Romney Manor page [link] for additional interesting estate-ownership details and associated historical photographs.
Wingfield is adjacent to Caribelle Batik at Romney Manor. The estate also hosts the site office of the popular zip line. As a result, 170,000 visitors per annum visit the area. Over the years, Wingfield has transformed into a unique and user-friendly destination with interpretive signage and graphics that explain its remarkable history and purpose.
The estate is a work-in-progress, with many archaeological digs ongoing and utilizing both visitor and local participation. This alone has attracted many journalists, bloggers, & reporters who’ve written exceptional pieces, bringing even more attention to this historic gem.
Wingfield is positioned on the fringe of a tropical rainforest, surrounded by nature. The setting is one of peace & serenity and is indeed a photographer's dream. What a contrast to its three centuries of sugar production! Come envelope yourself in times long past.