History of Clifton Hall

It is essential to give a history of the house starting from circa 1656.

The appropriately named district of Overcliffe, in the parish of St. John, can be found on an inland cliff rising from Barbados’ spectacular Atlantic east coast. Here you will find St. John’s Church, a classic Gothic church disconcertingly similar to an English country church. This Church, which enjoys an idyllic cliff top setting, was built in 1836 to replace the previous 17th Century church destroyed by a hurricane in 1831.

History4

Wandering through the Church Yard you will discover fascinating remains including those of a soldier who asked to be buried in an upright position so he could “better enjoy the view”! In a vault close by are the remains of Ferdinando Paleologus (picture left), a descendant of the last Emperor of Byzantium, Constantine XI Paleologus, whose family was driven from the throne of Constantinople by the Turks. Ferdinando died in Barbados in 1678, after being a resident here for over 20 years. He was reported to be the owner of the lands at Clifton Hall, including the magnificent plantation home which boasts a unique historical legacy.

The Great House of Clifton Hall Plantation, Clifton Hall House, was first mentioned in historical times in a mortgage recorded in 1656 when it then belonged to Prince Ferdinando Paleologus. Having immigrated to Barbados after fighting for the Royalists during the English Civil war in Cromwell’s time, Prince Ferdinando brought the name Clifton Hall with him from his birthplace in Cornwall, England.

Richard Ford’s map of 1674 shows Clifton Hall to be the property of the Rous family. John Rous married Margaret Maxwell of Christchurch in 1694. In 1810 Clifton Hall was bought by Robert Haynes for £35,350 and included 365 acres with 151 slaves. It remained with that family for over a century.

The house was bought in 1972 by Mr. and Mrs. Peter Morgan (the late Mr. Morgan was Minister of tourism in the administration of Prime Minister Errol Barrow and later, Barbados‘s High Commissioner to Canada). Errol Barrow was a frequent visitor to the house (see pictures below) as was the late Prime Minister of Barbados, David Thompson, who is buried at St John’s Church.