The Counting House at Good Hope Plantation

Good Hope Great House, with its Counting House, came on my radar about 10 years ago when I was looking for a suitable venue for an event I was planning. Since then, I’ve visited Good Hope several times but for one reason or another, have never been able to see the interior of the Counting House. Finally, a few weeks ago, I got my chance. I was only disappointed because I didn’t get to spend the night there.

The king was in his counting house, counting out his money – Sing a Song of Sixpence

Good Hope Counting House
Good Hope Counting House

I don’t know about you but when I hear Counting House, a line from a certain English nursery rhyme comes to mind. The king in that nursery rhyme could well have been John Tharp, the owner of Good Hope Great House.

Tharp, a shrewd businessman, was the richest and largest landowner in Jamaica.

At the ripe old age of 23, he already owned Good Hope. He bought the estates that adjoined it and expanded his holdings to about 9,000 acres. Tharp also owned a plantation about 50 miles away in Water Works, Westmoreland. At his death, in 1804, his property was valued at over 4.5 million pounds.

Counting House, Good Hope
Backview of the Counting House

Apparently counting money in one’s home was believed to bring bad luck so Tharp had the Counting House built just steps from the main house. Remember, this was the 1700s. Jamaica had no paper money or banks until the 1800s. People like Tharp, had to be their own banks.

As I surveyed the room, I tried to imagine how it might have looked in Tharp’s day. Where did he have his vault?

Counting House, Good Hope Great House
Counting House
Counting House
John Tharp’s office

Was anyone else allowed in his Counting House? If only the walls could talk.

Linking up this week with Travel Photo Thursday, which Nancie at Budget Travel Sandbox organizes. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.


20 comments on “The Counting House at Good Hope Plantation

  1. That is some history behind the house, looks a bit spooky too!!
    Yes, if only the walls could speak, it would have some stories to tell of their own!
    Have a good day Marcia 🙂

  2. Interesting juxtaposition between the inside and the outside of the Counting House. It looks thoroughly modern inside and yet the outside looks its age.
    Interesting that you it was bad luck to count money at home – who knew? I wonder if it was guarded when the money was counted,

  3. Nice little story. I’m trying to imagine a contemporary 23-year-old owning a couple large junks of Jamaica. Or any island for that matter.

  4. What a fascinating little piece of history! I too wonder where that vault is and wonder any of his fortune remains in his house or counting house. Did you look? LOL! I have never been to Jamaica but when I do, you and only you will be guide!!

  5. Oh if only the walls could talk! So true! It would be fascinating, wouldn’t it? I loved the moody pics you’ve taken and it would be the sort of place I’d love to visit to let my imagination run just a little wild!

  6. I admit that I did not immediately make the connection with the nursery rhyme, but now I have and it finally makes sense. I never knew what a counting house was! Money counting aside I like the look of the place now 🙂

  7. What an interesting story! I’m familiar with the nursery rhyme but never really imagined a counting house actually existing. Is it actually a guest home now?

  8. I didn’t look, Jeff. Unfortunately, Tharp’s substantial estate ended up in litigation – which is why so much of the records remain.
    Let me know when you’re ready and I’ll make it happen Jeff!

  9. Thanks, Bob.
    My feeling is that our generation lives longer so we delay taking on these “grown up” responsibilities. I could be wrong though.
    Thanks for visiting.

  10. I was surprised to hear that too, Leigh. Come to think of it, Tharp might have had some type of security but then again, he might not since the office was so close to the main house.

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