Leaving Old Harbour, we drive north for about three miles then turn off the main road and into a small community. We follow the signs pointing to Colbeck Castle, our destination, which we reach after going through what looks like a private road.
We drive this narrow road pass a few houses and small farms. Two men, standing next to a car, wave to us as we drive by. A few yards further and I see it, a stone and brick structure which sticks out above the vegetation. It feels entirely out of place and absolutely out of time. It’s Colbeck Castle.
Continuing on the road, the only visible access to the property, we drive around the back and to the side and park near an L-shaped building that is at one corner of the property.
Exiting the vehicle, I take in the imposing and impressive rectangular mansion before me. A stone and brick two-story, it is the centerpiece of the property and is marked off by a rope – a clear sign to keep our distance from the building, which is now in ruins.
Colbeck Castle was likely built around 1680. It measures about 114 feet wide by 90 feet deep.
Four towers, one at each corner, make up the third story. They provide unparalleled views of the surrounding area and as far as the Caribbean Sea, some ten miles away. The towers served as the castle’s defense system (against the Spanish). Four outer buildings sit at each corner of the property.
Brick ovens in one of the buildings suggest that it was used as a kitchen. This building also has a sunken bath and at least three enclosures that probably were toilets. A three-foot high brick wall rings the property.
Colbeck Castle got its name from its owner, Colonel John Colbeck, who came to Jamaica in 1655 – the same year the British captured the island from the Spanish — as a member of the expeditionary forces that was led by Admiral William Penn and General Robert Venables.
As was the custom at the time, Colbeck was given land – 1,340 acres – for his services. During his short time in Jamaica, John Colbeck became of a member of the Assembly and was Speaker of the House from 1672-73.
It is unclear whether Colbeck Castle was ever finished or whether Colbeck lived in it as he died in 1682. It doesn’t appear as if he left an heir as there is no record of the name after his death. He was buried in Spanish Town.
Colbeck Castle, one of the oldest ruins in Jamaica, was declared a national monument in 1990.
Linking up this week with Travel Photo Thursday, which Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox organizes. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.