The Neglected Space At Rock Hall

Submitted by Rosemary Parkinson

Standford C. Haynes creator of the Rock Hall statue

Saturday 11th August I happened to swerve into a gap off a main road in St. Thomas, just by chance…’twas a dead end…but…what I saw shocked the life outta me. A most amazing piece of work stood tall into the skies literally in the middle of nowhere. As I drew near I realized it was a statue of a man, woman and child with arms outstretched as if touching the heavens. I was totally taken aback. What was this gorgeous piece of work all about? On approaching…the first thing I noticed was the dilapidated state of this monument, its surroundings and its plaques…there were several. I managed to read one of them. Rock Hall was the area, Cynthia Forde (previous government) unveiled same, one Standford C. Haynes was the creator, it was bronzed in the UK. The plaque did not say whether Mr. Haynes was a Barbadian but with this name, I assumed he would be. And even if not, who cares. The images are simply stunning.

But here comes the sadness. They are in desperate need of a cleaning…I ent seh scrubbing dong…just a little cleaning. There are no benches or seating arrangements of any kind to be had for those who might like to relax and admire this work of art. I looked around and although there was a lovely green pasture, there was no sign that said I could picnic there if I wanted. Actually it looked like private property with some cows grazing and a lovely backyard garden…but for sure such a simple thing as a few little picnic tables would have been nice.

As I looked around, I came across two more plaques under some overhanging bush. One gave names of free slaves and the other (both sadly needing some repair) said the following:

“From the Belly of the Slave Ship to a Free Holder, the Spirits of the African Ancestors beckon the enslaved souls guiding them to the first Free Village. Standing tall in a sacred pool of water, the Bronze ancestral Spirits rise majestically across the ravine symbolizing that any mountain can be climbed, any turbulent ocean crossed and any shackled soul can be Free. It is generally believed that the seeds of mankind were sown in Africa. The Spirits therefore represent ALL Races. They are guiding ALL people to a place free from Mental and Physical Slavery, a Place free from Guilt and Shame.”

What words. What beautiful words. In particular “The Spirits therefore represent ALL races”. Wow! Okay…so here I was mesmerized but still not fully understanding the connection between this monument and the few houses in the little gap. An elderly appeared. I asked a question or two. And guess what? (a) Rock Hall was the first free village on the island. How fantastic and historic is that!!!(b) The NCC is supposed to keep the area clean, paid to do it (so he tell me) but have not been seen for some three years or more. Three years????!!! The elder tries to trim trees and bush because the odd person or bus comes up to visit and (c) no there’s no sign to his knowledge on the main road so passersby could relate. Hmmm….

Now seriously….if you cannot have a magnificent piece of work done by a creative looked after, if you cannot have its surrounding area cleaned, if you cannot have a sign telling people what this is all about, how will we ever get our children to understand their past and therefore their present. Maybe it is left to ravages of nature because the BLP built it. I do not want to believe that we could really be that foolish and vindictive. This is a work of art. Yes! A work of art. In any other country this would be something to be so proud of.

Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports…sorry to say…but are we ‘creatives’ such second-class citizens that this kind of disrespect is due to our work? Is our history that the above plaque talks about to be so ignored and left to waste away in bush and debris? Would this not be an amazing story to tell visitors….should this not be considered heritage? And please…because I happened to make the decision to bring this to the attention of the public at large…don’t do the foolish thing and make it into a paying area for tourists instead of what it should be…a well-kept manicured spot of beauty where Barbadians and visitors can come and be spiritually enlightened! Remember the words on the plaque ALL RACES and FREE.

Shame. Shame. Shame.

I AM A CONCERNED CREATIVE CITIZEN…MORE SO THAN EVAH!

118 comments

  • Caswell I cannot control your thoughts about me but I sure can see that you are out of your depth with things pertaining to art. You are such an uncultured, bigoted and homophobic Christian hypocrite trying your damnedest to be a somebody only to make a bigger Assh@le of yourself.

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  • ac | August 16, 2012 at 5:59 AM |

    @rosemary

    can you imagine if this story reached international news how it can tarnished the image of our new and highly ststus as a world heritage sight ”

    AC I would love this story to reach International News, Tarnish what? The stinking cesspool you call Bridgetown? What about the crop over image with the child and he adult gyrating in front of him? Now that would be fodder for the international press. Now you should be concerned about that reaching the international press.

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  • Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, if Caswell states that the sculptures are ugly that is only his opinion. One man’s meat is another man’s poison and that is what makes life interesting. Disliking some types of art does not make one a philistine.
    Art like food could always do with “presentation” and the area where the statues are located could do with a little presentation, there are many potential jewels in Barbados that could do with some “presentation” but are left unkempt and “rundown” and leaves a negative impression.

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  • @island gal your comment is typical bajan plaster fuh evrysore until when corrective action becomes necessary it cost the taxpayers thousnds of dollars to do so.

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  • by clicking on the picture and then clicking again i can see the true meaning
    of this statue.it is very deep.only those with enough depth in their soles would appreciate what it stands for. HOPE..the majority of bajans are shallow so would not see .they would be more concerned about dem jean pants fitting tight enough or dem boxers showing up good outside them baggy pants.and of course money.after looking at most of the comments .i see it is that bajan blacks are racist against whites.
    SEEMS TO BE THE MOST PREDOMINANT ..
    i feel it should replace bussa.move it there.
    and if you all immigrants from Africa did not realize if ADMIRAL NELSON did not lead the defense of barbados and other British colonies.ships fighting at sea firing cannons and sword fighting to save barbados and other places.
    you immigrant Africans would not have made it here to barbados.
    your ships would have been blown to pieces. no dough..
    i always remind that the white man invented airplanes that do indeed fly to Africa.
    island girl /funk off about Grenada.wow make some statues out of concrete and then use divers and a crane and barge to set in place.who paid for that ya think?
    or do you even know who put them there.or do you think fish made them.
    white man invented concrete also..!!!!!!!!!!/
    and your cars that you drive. and the clothes you wear.
    and de cell phone you always got press up to your ears.[proven to give of damaging effects to the brain].
    and your refrigerator and your fans and so on.
    wunna lucky you aint in Africa so shut to funk up.
    as for bold winning what he trains at every day .it is wonderful he will me a millionaire .but he will be beaten by some one else as they all are.
    the money now will mean girls and you know kicking it wif the bros.

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  • i mean nelson did/not did not/!

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  • Interesting to hear the news this morning that Minister Lowe and the ministry he leads is committed to cleaning Barbados especially recreational spaces.

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  • millertheanunnaki

    ac | August 16, 2012 at 5:59 AM |
    ” can you imagine if this story reached international news how it can tarnished the image of our new and highly ststus as a world heritage sight ”

    Barbados and its capital town’s status as a World Heritage site would not be negatively affected by any ‘historical inaccuracies’ about the Rock Hall sculpture but by the country’s abject refusal to maintain both sites in an environmentally safe and attractive condition. The main criterion for an historic site keeping the status of “A Place of World Heritage Importance” is PRESERVATION TO AN ACCEPTABLY HIGH LEVEL.
    This we know is modern Barbados’ biggest problem. Maintenance and Preservation. Not even the much loved and adored churches enjoy any special dispensation or exemption from this cultural curse and neglect. So let us accept this stark reality and rise to the challenge of overcoming this shortcoming. Let us clean up both the sculpture at Rock Hall along with the other sites and scenes of historical appeal including a good ‘all round seasons’ cleaning of Bridgetown before we receive an unexpected visit from a representative from UNESCO and have our status unceremoniously withdrawn. The sculpture at Rock Hall might be surrounded by some historical inaccuracies and political controversy but that is no justification for keeping the piece of art and its environment in such a deplorable and neglectful state. Bridgetown itself which was an old slave market and former hell has a heritage “school report and transcript” also characterized by historical inaccuracies and controversy to mainly protect the image of the ruling white elite. Should we therefore treat our City as a pariah leaving it to turn into a rundown shanty town as we can see arising in too many areas of the City? If you doubt what is written here you guys should get out of your ivory towers and visit the ‘inner ghetto areas’ starting with Nelson St. and its environs.

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  • millertheanunnaki

    @ David | August 16, 2012 at 9:23 AM |
    ” Interesting to hear the news this morning that Minister Lowe and the ministry he leads is committed to cleaning Barbados especially recreational spaces.”

    But isn’t this the mandate and routine operations for this agency to fulfil and carry out? The NCC is not an NGO or private sector voluntary organisation but an agency of the government and funded by taxpayers.
    This statement is not news to hear. We want to see results and we will express pride and appreciation for the work well done when we see it.
    He probably took notice of the miller’s call to weed and clean up the streets of Bridgetown including the weeds growing in the gutters on Broad Street.

    BTW, is there a technical reason for attempts at accessing BU via WordPress to be directed through government agencies portals e.g .bgis and nis? Just wondering?

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  • islandgal246 | August 16, 2012 at 7:24 AM |
    ac | August 16, 2012 at 5:59 AM |

    AC I would love this story to reach International News, Tarnish what? The stinking cesspool you call Bridgetown? What about the crop over image with the child and he adult gyrating in front of him? Now that would be fodder for the international press. Now you should be concerned about that reaching the international press.
    ……………………………………………………………………………….
    I’ve taken so many photographs of Bridgetown and the Garrison but am only able to publish a relative small number of them on the net (FlickR). It is virtually impossible to take a photo in Bridgetown,and by extension the Garrison, without garbage bins , overflowing refuse and other crap getting in the way. On the Garrison , very often the portable shit houses are left in place long after race meetings, and over by the Barbados Museum, the mecca of the Bridgetown and Garrison Heritage, the make shift and unsightly car park, normally used by the race horse trailers on mornings, stinks to high heaven with horse piss and horse shit . The much publicised “Changing of the Guard”, starts off by the Clock Tower alongside some unsightly garbage bins. Recently I wanted to take a photograph of the famous Amen Alley off Marhill Street where slaves used to gather and listed to the service coming from the nearby St Michaels Cathedral,but was put off as the alley seems to be a hit with #1’s as well as # 2’s.
    We have a dismal record in Barbados as it relates to the maintenance of anything,and especially if it comes under the umbrella of Government. Is it surprising that very little has been done to these Heritage Sites since the awards, except a lot of hot air from the Minister.
    And what a shame that the car park on the Pierhead is managed by the Barbados Board of Tourism, and tons of rubbish can be found on the western side where it juts into the careenage.

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  • Miller is that so so why do you think that the world heritage foundation is concern about accuracy. plagarism and emblishment of a story for political or monetary gain is not allowed .this country integrity is/at stake when it use a lie or emblish a story with inaccurate historical facts .the stature needs cleansing from the inside out.

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  • @Colonel Buggy ”We have a dismal record in Barbados as it relates to the maintenance of anything,and especially if it comes under the umbrella of Government”

    For sure. Bridgetown is unspeakably filthy and not a pleasant place to visit. Cleanliness speaks to individual and national pride and respect for oneself and others.

    Paint does not cost much either,unless of course you add middleman money, contract graft and every man want a piece a action issues.

    As you say, there are other areas, like the national residence of the first PM, Culloden Farm, a disgraceful sight, surely a place of historical significance, from an architectural viewpoint as well as historical.

    Lotta long talk, what we does best.

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  • millertheanunnaki

    @ ac | August 16, 2012 at 12:58 PM |
    “.. so why do you think that the world heritage foundation is concern about accuracy. plagarism and emblishment of a story for political or monetary gain is not allowed ”

    So what are you saying here, Ms Prosecutor, Judge and Jury? That the official history of the Freedom Village as represented by ‘the work of fiction’ (in yours and Caswell’s estimation, that is) is really a distortion of fact and embellished by a false professor of history bribed to satisfy the narrow personal aggrandizement of a few BLP crooks and scammers. Ergo, the gated community!

    Well if that is true, then you, in the interest of fair play and honesty should admit that the whole presentation and sell of Bridgetown as a World Heritage site was one big distortion of recent history by the DLP to make it look as if this administration is the one solely responsible for acquiring this ‘coveted and unique’ accolade for Bridgetown. Don’t you think it is downright dishonest (if that moral imperative lives within you) for such a designation to be applied for and awarded without a genuine recognition of those movers and shakers responsible for the proposal in the first place and who worked tirelessly over the last 20 years? Do you know if the role of Dame Billie Miller was featured or was it strictly a Stephen Lashley and Co effort presided over by Freundel?
    We all know, ac, you will purposely refuse to comment hereon. Even if the “world heritage foundation” would like to hear the “Truth” from you and not a distortion of history and lies from me.

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  • millertheanunnaki | August 16, 2012 at 9:37 AM |
    @ David | August 16, 2012 at 9:23 AM |
    ” Interesting to hear the news this morning that Minister Lowe and the ministry he leads is committed to cleaning Barbados especially recreational spaces.”
    *************************************************************
    With elections around the corner, this is the start of the 5-Yearly ‘Corn Beef and Biscuits ‘ Rent-a vote , de-bushing campaign.

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  • Miller

    Let us go through the claims about Rock Hall carefully. The historians claim that Rock Hall village was established by former slaves from Mount Wilton who received a legacy in 1840. That was seven years after the abolition of slavery. However, the historians have identified a house in what is now called Rock Hall as a slave hut. According to them the house would have been built after 1840. There were no persons in Barbados that were legally considered as slaves in 1840. And why would a newly rich person construct a house that would be considered a slave hut?

    Additionally, the area identified as part of Rock Hall where the Freedom Village is located is the Glebe. The historians have it wrong again. This whole project is based on a lie.

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  • The structure at the centre of much debate recently, which was thought to be one of the original houses of the 1841 established Rock Hall Village.

    The Story of Rock Hall
    Published on: 11/23/08.

    Stories and pictures by MICHELLE SPRINGER

    IN THE LOCAL FOLKLORE it went by the name Cut Throat Village and Hangman’s Hill after a potently dramatic genesis deeply embedded in murder, deception and debauchery.

    Today, it is more commonly known as Rock Hall Village, Barbados’ first free village, the subject of which appeared recently in the media at the centre of much debate when sections of one of its original 19th century houses were partially dismantled by the Environmental Protection Department.

    Last Thursday morning’s drive through St Thomas with the esteemed Professor Woodville Marshall, author of the scholarly article Rock Hall, St Thomas: A Free Village In Barbados and the booklet Freedom Is: The Story Of The Rock Hall Village was an enlightening journey through time and space.

    Interrupted only occasionally by the lulling everyday noises of a tiny village recess, there was a sense of something lying persistently underneath the sounds of the St Thomas countryside.

    That something was the hush of history rippling through the village and wrapping around the three remaining structures believed to date back to the 1840s.

    It was the ancestral memory of the land and the political significance of Rock Hall being the first freedom village in Barbados, where just three years after Emancipation, formerly enslaved people became landowners and earned the right to vote at a time when others had no place to call theirs and were forced to live in and work on tenantry lands while still tied to the plantation.

    In the texts and the Government Information Service (GIS) produced film, inspired by Marshall’s invaluable documentation, the origins of the story are identified.

    According to his research, plantation owner Reynold Alleyne Ellcock, owner of Mount Wilton and Farmers Plantation, made “unprecedented” provisions in his will the adult enslaved people he possessed.

    Marshall identified, in the first instance, improved living conditions for them, including refurbishment of their living quarters and guaranteed leisure time. But, of greater significance was the monetary bequest he rewarded them for not participating in the well known 1816 Bussa Rebellion.

    As quoted by Marshall, a section of Ellcock’s reads:

    In consideration of the uniform good conduct of my Negroes, and more particularly in the Insurrection [the 1816 slave rebellion], and that all I now possess with the Blessing I owe their exertion – I am determined that they shall enjoy a fair portion of my wealth, and therefore I direct that the sum of £5 be paid annually on the 1st day of June to each labouring adult, besides their annual allowances of food and clothing . . . .

    By the time they received their inheritance, it was about 15 years later because of legal wranglings involving Ellcock’s family. Since then Emancipation had occurred (in 1838). In June 1840 about 83 former enslaved people, male and female, received a cheque for £85.

    It is with these funds that they bought about 108 1/2 acres of land at Rock Hall from Joseph Bayley, land that was not known for its fertile nature.

    While the bequeathing of money and property to members of the enslaved population was not novel at this point in colonial history, Marshall pointed out, Ellcock’s generosity seemed “remarkable for at least two reasons”.

    Having learnt that Ellock was portrayed as a cruel tyrant from Marshall’s studies, the SUNDAY SUN was concerned with the incongruity of this seemingly “generous” bequest and queried the professor on the subject.

    “If what was said about his reputation was indeed true, it was not uncommon for people who wanted to be remembered fondly as people who did good things in their lives and also people who wanted to ‘grease their way into the other place doing good things [to perform such deeds],” he said.

    Ellcock wrote his will on 1 November 1820 and almost one year later on 2 October 1821, he was murdered in his bedroom, a titillating story which had also been passed down in the oral history.

    “Ellock lived at Mount Wilton, separated from his wife . . . . This marital breakdown, together with the unusual sleeping arrangements at Mount Wilton, introduces the possibility that Ellcock may have been involved in homosexual relationships.

    “According to James William Baker, the keeper of keys at Mount Wilton, Jeffrey, Ellcock’s 20-year-old valet and confidential servant, always slept in his Master Mr Ellcock’s bedroom while James, a 19-year old field slave, who apparently did double duty, slept at the head of the stairs outside of the bedroom.

    “It was in this bedroom occupied by Ellcock and Jeffrey and guarded by James, that three slaves, early in the morning of 2 October 1821, ‘nearly severed’ Ellcocks’ head from his body,” Marshall wrote from evidence emerging out of the transcripts of the trial which named Jeffery, James, a driver at Mount Wilton Jack-Grig and a hired hitman Billy-Prince, as responsible for the slaying. They had apparently been betrayed by Rittah, an enslaved domestic whom it is alleged, hired Billy Prince for the hit job but was never indicted on conspiracy charges.

    Marshall however warned while speculation surrounding the motives behind the murder is an appealing human interest drama, for him it is not of paramount importance.

    On the one hand it was believed they killed him to obtain the inheritance, but on the other it was believed he was excessively cruel to the enslaved persons on the plantation.

    © 1997-2008. Nation Publishing Company Limited

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  • Better days are ahead. And the artists name is Stanton C Haynes

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