Events & Things to Do, History, Leisure|

A Winter Season Tradition

We’re so happy to be back after a three-year pandemic pause! This year’s Open House Programme includes homes rich in history, rare access to grand official residences, a tea party in a remarkable private garden,  and an unusual farm visit. At two spots that are open to the public, our guides and events add value to the experience. 

There’s always a Lively Lecture, and often live music. At our bazaar, browse for flowers, Caribbean books, art, and fine crafts. Refreshments include local delicacies, rum punch, and Prosecco.

COME MAKE A WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON OF IT! 2pm - 5pm

The directions included on this page will guide you either from the ABC/2A Highway or from the west coast road. You can also use the Google Maps links to each. There will be Open House signs when you get close. Where there is no parking on site, free shuttles will be provided.

Feb 14th

Ilaro Court, St. Michael

Mobility alert! Stairs at entry and exit as well as inside the house. Our thanks to Prime Minister, The Honourable Mia Amor Mottley, QC, for opening her official residence today.  A tranquil oasis less than 2 miles from the heart of Bridgetown, Ilaro Court was designed and built in 1928 by Lady Gilbert Carter, an accomplished American artist whose husband had been Governor of Barbados from 1904 to 1911. This gracious mansion successfully combines Edwardian, Italian, and Caribbean features into a distinctive and individualistic whole. It boasts the first swimming pool in Barbados and a park-like garden with gazebo, fishpond and orchid house.

DIRECTIONS: From Highway 2A, turn towards Bridgetown at the Emancipation Statue roundabout. Shortly ahead, turn left into the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Conference Centre. Parking is at the right side of the building, and there is a walkway from there to Ilaro Court.

Feb 21st

The Synagogue Historic District, Bridgetown, St. Michael

Historic Bridgetown is home to the first synagogue in this hemisphere, which has been lovingly rebuilt from ruins. Other elements have been added to create the Synagogue Block, a complex serving social, artistic and memorial purposes. The fine museum tells how Sephardic Jews came, contributed in sometimes surprising ways, left, and came again to these shores. Add the mysterious beauty of the graveyard and the Mikvah—a spring-fed ritual bath, and you’re in for an afternoon of discoveries. The whole atmosphere is mystical. 

DIRECTIONS: From Broad Street, turn left by the Republic Bank (by the big TV) onto Coleridge Street, cross over Swan Street, pass the Central Police station on your left, turn right onto Pinfold Street (by the Trafalgar Monument) and right again onto Magazine Lane and follow our signs to the parking lot.

Feb 28th

State House, St. Michael

Formerly known as Government House, this splendid 18th century mansion has been the official residence of the Governor-General, the Queen’s representative in Barbados, since 1703. Now that we’re a republic, it is provided for our vivacious President, Dame Sandra Mason, whose enthusiasm for local visual artists resounds throughout. The building has not been radically altered since its restoration in 1898 after severe hurricane damage. Classically furnished and set in large, lovely gardens, State House presents youthful talent today, with music and art from Barbados Community College.

DIRECTIONS: From Bridgetown, find the Nita Barrow Roundabout at the intersection of Pine Road and Belmont Road. Follow the Open House signs. At the Main Entrance, the parking attendant will direct you. There is also a shuttle at the Belmont Funeral Home Parking Lot.

Mar 6th

All Saints Church, St. Peter

The oldest Chapel of Ease on the island, this delightful little house of worship has much to admire—from its Gothic arches to its beamed ceiling, to the ancient graves of first settlers. The original mid 17th century building withstood the hurricane of 1780, but the next great one—in 1831—destroyed it. The present church dates from 1884. Best of all are the exquisitely restored stained glass windows, which some say are the most beautiful of any church in the western hemisphere. True? You decide.  You can also stroll up the hill to view the new Mount Pleasant Memorial Gardens and Chapel, an example of the new religious architecture in Barbados.

DIRECTIONS: Drive north on Highway 2A into St. Peter and follow it to the end to the crossroads at Mile and a Quarter. Turn right and keep right as if going to Pleasant Hall. All Saints will appear on your right as you crest the hill. Parking is in front.

Mar 13th

Landis Garden, St. John

Perched on the cliff at Kendall in the heart of scenic farmland, the Landis Garden presents panoramic views and spectacular landscaping.  With flowering borders and shrubs, bromeliads and orchids, trees bearing fruits and fragrance, dramatic palms and even a vegetable area, this garden is not only beautiful but of horticultural importance.  It’s also the perfect property for proper tea which will be available for purchase. Music and a Lively Lecture will round out the afternoon. 

DIRECTIONS: From the Norman Niles roundabout on the ABC Highway turn inland onto Highway 4, past Bulkeley factory and at Turnpike, fork right on to Highway 4B. Go past Brighton Plantation and continue past Rolling Hills. Turn left at the sign “Kendal via Featherbed Lane” and follow the road up the hill. Look for Open House parking signs.

Mar 20th

Fustic House, St. Lucy

Fustic House is one of the most distinctive and magical of the transformations created in Barbados by the English theatrical designer, Oliver Messel. His senses of grace, proportion, texture, and drama were unerring, and extended to outdoor spaces as well. Everything flows, while time and reality seem suspended. Besides the romantic, two-part main house, there’s a delightful cottage and a conference/entertainment pavilion. Eleven acres of stunning, park-like grounds invite you to walk in enchantment.   

DIRECTIONS: Go north on Highway 2A to St. Lucy’s parish church. Take the 90-degree left at the  roundabout, so that the church car park is on your immediate right. Stay on that road for about 2 km. As you enter Checker Hall, look for the Fustic Village sign on your left, and follow our Open House signs to parking.

Mar 27th

Tyrol Cot, St. Michael

The recently restored Tyrol Cot was the home of Sir Grantley Adams, the first Premier of Barbados and the only Prime Minister of the Federation of the West Indies. The home is also the birthplace of his son, Tom, the second Prime Minister of Barbados. Constructed in 1854, this architectural gem displays an interesting mixture of Palladian and tropical vernacular.The house is filled with the Adams’ antique furniture and memorabilia. Adjacent is the Heritage Village, comprising a number of attractive chattel houses.Learn how these charming little wooden buildings are uniquely Barbadian masterpieces of practicality and design. Get the “feels” in the reconstructed slave hut. The rum shop may help you process it all. 

DIRECTIONS: From Hothersal (Everton Weekes) Roundabout, travel south-west along Waterford and take the first major right turn. Passing Combermere school on your left, make the right at the mini “roundabout” passing the National Stadium on your left and the National Botanical Gardens on your right.  At the stoplights you will see the large white walls of Tyrol Cot and the main house with its iconic demerara windows ahead of you. Make a left before the stoplights into the Tyrol Cot Parking Lot. Attendants will guide you to the house across the street.

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