Good Hope Great House is as stately and unique as any of Jamaica’s great houses. It sits atop a slight elevation which offers it sweeping views of the surrounding Queen of Spain Valley clear out to where the imposing Cockpit Mountains rise majestically in the distance.
This view is unparalleled as the 2,000-acre estate, which is located about 8 miles from Falmouth, the capital of the parish of Trelawny, has remained unmarred by encroaching development. Good Hope is almost the same as it would have been when Col. Thomas Williams built it in 1755 for his wife, Elizabeth.
Unfortunately, Elizabeth would not live long in the house. She died seven years later at 24 years old and was buried beneath the ground floor. A simple stone marker indicates the spot where she was laid to rest.
In 1767, Good Hope Great House was sold to John Tharp. Tharp, who was only 23 at the time of the purchase, bought several of the neighboring estates, which increased the size of his holdings to 9,000 acres, and approximately 2,500 slaves. He seems to have been a benevolent plantation owner who treated his slaves well. Good Hope had its own church, a 300-bed hospital, and a Free School that taught those who showed promise how to read and write. The plantation prospered even after the abolition of slavery.
Tharp’s operation was one of the largest on the island. Besides the hospital, church and school, there was a sugar factory, Carriage House, Coach House, waterwheel, boiling house, kiln and other buildings. As it was considered bad form to do business at home, Tharp also built a stand-alone office, called the Counting House, behind the main house. He also built Tharp House, a shipping office that still can be seen near what is now Falmouth Pier.
Following Tharp’s death, his nephew managed the estate and it remained profitable. Good Hope Great House & Plantation changed hands several times but the sugar factory continued operating until 1902.
Despite the many changes in ownership and having undergone several expansions and renovations, its owners have maintained the original Georgian style and the house appears seamless in its construction.
Good Hope Great House has the first hot water bath in the Caribbean (Falmouth had running water before New York City), period furniture and original orange wood floor. It has 10 rooms and has been a hotel, a dude ranch, and a yoga retreat. Much of the original buildings remain and are still in use.
Now a working citrus farm with ugli (derived its name from its dimply skin, a result of the hybridization of orange, tangerine and grapefruit), and ortaniques (orange and tangerine) that are exported. There is also a lily pond, swimming pool, tennis court, stables, pottery barn and a beach. The Martha Brae River, the largest in Trelawny, winds its way lazily through the property.
Chukka Caribbean also operates Good Hope Great House & Plantation as an adventure center offering ziplining, river tubing, horse and buggy, dune buggy rides, etc., or more relaxing activities like high tea.
Good Hope Great House is located 20 minutes from Falmouth and approximately 50 minutes from Montego Bay. Call Chukka Caribbean at 877-424-8552 or email@example.com to arrange a tour.