October 25, 2020

International day for Monuments and Sites


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CanonBy Sir Henry S. Fraser from Caribbean360

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Wednesday April 15, 2015 – On April 18th 1982, at a meeting of the International Committee of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) it was suggested that a day be established to celebrate the diversity of heritage throughout the world. From this idea, the International Day for Monuments and Sites was born, and celebrated every April 18th – which is Saturday coming. Last year April 18th fell on Good Friday. Now Good Friday in the year 1710 was the day that Colonel Christopher Codrington – scholar, poet, orator, soldier, governor of Antigua and benefactor of Barbados – died. And of course it was the day of the crucifixion of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. So it resonates for many reasons – both spiritual and historical.

Barbados is now celebrated by UNESCO with the inscription of \Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison as a World Heritage site, and so to celebrate this year’s International Day for Monuments and Sites I’m recalling some of my themes from last year’s column at this time.

I always call Barbados “The Paradise Island with everything” (a suggestion for BTA marketing, at no charge!) and Charleston “The other Paradise”. And last year’s visit to Charleston, my seventh, confirmed my view … In fact Captain William Hilton, the early Barbadian explorer, remembered in the name Hilton Head, South Carolina, wrote after his 1664 expedition from Barbados: “The English that were cast away on that Coast … notwithstanding hard usage and lying on the ground naked, yet had their perfect healths all the time”; and the promoters of the proposed colony described it as a Paradise.

Charleston was called “the colony of a colony” by the leading historian of South Carolina, the late Professor George Rogers, whom the National Trust hosted on a visit to Barbados in 1986. It was settled as a result of a formal proposal from Sir John Colleton of Barbados, for settlement of lands on the North American mainland. What Warren Alleyne and I called “The Odyssey” was the epic adventure of three ships leaving England, refitting and taking on an appointed Governor and settlers in Barbados, and several wrecks and hurricanes later settling Charlestown (later Charleston, at a nearby site) in 1670. (The Barbados Carolina Connection, by Alleyne and Fraser, published by Macmillan, 1987.)

Today’s Historic Charleston, laid out by Barbadian surveyor John Culpepper of our Culpepper Island family, is a historic, architectural, aesthetic, cultural, gastronomic and tourist gem. It receives some three million plus visitors a year. It’s been voted Number 1 City in the USA in the Condé Nast Readers’ Choice Awards for the last three years in a row. The architecture of its 17th, 18th and 19th century homes, churches and public buildings is the big draw, but the fantastic food and their pride in their heritage create a wonderfully rich and vibrant brand.

You can probably eat in a different restaurant in Charleston every day of the year, just as you can go to a different church in Barbados every day of the year, and two on Sundays. Walking tours in Charleston were thrilling: the Gateway Tour, with the most brilliant and charming tour guide I’ve ever had, took us through amazing church yards with exquisite funerary monuments, and along shady cobbled pathways. We learnt about the fascinating architecture of grave stones and the stories of the powerful and the priestly people of the past, with colourful detail, from an eloquent raconteur – both poignant and humorous!

There’s a lot for us to learn from our sister city Charleston, twinned with Speightstown in 1999. We enjoyed their fabulous historic market place, with the most ingenious and creative art and crafts of every kind. The choice of attractive items was impressive, almost all relevant to the heritage and culture of Charleston; and the crowds were huge. So much creativity. Can’t we take note, and exploit our own cultural heritage? This has been my litany for years now … and World Heritage Day is a time to take stock. We do have Rachel’s Restaurant at the Savannah Hotel, but what about a Carolina Lee Restaurant, specialising in Carolina Lee Sweet Potato recipes? What about exploiting Stede Bonnet, our notorious gentleman pirate, hung in Charleston? They do! There are so many possibilities … let’s get to work.

henry-fraser-150Next week I’ll talk about some of the major attractions of Charleston – connected to Barbados – and how they’ve helped the city to become Americans’ favourite city and a hugely prosperous place – our sister city, from which we can learn a great deal.

Sir Henry Fraser is past Dean of Medical Sciences, UWI and Professor Emeritus of Medicine. Website: profhenryfraser.com


For more on this story go to: http://www.caribbean360.com/opinion/international-day-for-monuments-and-sites-henry-s-fraser#ixzz3XTqtihvA

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