Jamaica’s ‘Heartbeat’: Kingston, the hub of the hustle and bustle is the ideal place for the adventurous visitor! The activities in this city are unmatched, and show a different side to the island, quite unlike those found in Jamaica’s tourism capital Montego Bay.. Of all the things to do in Kingston however, visiting Devon House is one of the most iconic!
Devon House went through a series of buying, selling, subdividing and constructing to become the national treasure it is today. King Charles II awarded 600 acres of glebe (a piece of land belonging to a clergyman that provided income) to Rev Zellers, the glebe included the area ‘Devon Penn’. A Rectory (Church of England owned by a rector) was built on the Devon Penn by the St. Andrew Parish Church and was occupied by the Church’s rectors for the next 128 years. The rectory was then sold to Jamaica’s first black millionaire George Stiebel who built the Devon House Mansion. Stiebel then sold this mansion to Reginald Melhado, but only sold 11 of the 51 acres of the land, subdividing the remaining 40 acres to form the roadways Waterloo Road and Devon Road.
The next owner of the Mansion was Cecil Lindo a smart and savvy businessman with investments in the alcohol industry. When he died in 1960, his wife Agnes moved to New York, leaving the mansion empty. She was approached by developers in 1965 regarding the sale of the mansion in favour of building condominiums, however the then Minister of Welfare and Development the Honourable Edward Seaga caught wind of this plan to demolish the mansion and purposed in his heart that this beautiful house, with such rich history an architecture, could not be removed. So in swift judgement, he placed a restriction on the property under the National Trust Act which ceased the demolition of the mansion. The National Trust became the proprietors and began an extensive and careful restoration process which was led by a well-known English Architect Tom Concannon, with matter of urgency. Devon House was officially opened on January 23, 1968 and became an official National Monument by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust in 1990. The mansion has had visits from royalty since it opened its doors, from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1983 and in more recent years His Royal Highness Prince Charles of Wales in 2008 and his Royal Highness Prince Harry of Wales in 2012. Apart from its historical and cultural richness, it was deemed Jamaica’s first gastronomy centre by the Honourable Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism in 2017.
The grand mansion has not only provided historical significance but is now home to over 20 shops where you can get Jamaican souvenirs, authentic Jamaican cuisine and even a spa, as well as the world famous Devon house ice-cream. The mansion offers packaged tours such as a tour of the mansion and a sample of the products from the shops on site.
Devon House also offers venue rentals, and with its expansive,immaculate lawns and picturesque backdrops, it’s no wonder that the property is a favourite for wedding photos and elegant events. They offer the North, South and East lawns (the East lawns have a multipurpose gazebo) for rental, as well as the formal gardens, the mansion itself and a kids zone.
Devon House has something for everyone, you can spend the entire day at this location and experience it all, history, culture and food, all with an idyllic backdrop – an oasis in the hustle and bustle of Kingston.