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Wednesday 18th June 2014

"A foot in the past, an eye on the future Mercer’s Creek – Antigua’s only remaining plantation house" for sale at 8,250,000

It’s not often a visit to a private family home feels like an impromptu history lesson that leaves one distinctly over-awed and thoroughly richer for the experience.

With its original 17th century buildings – complete with period furniture and curios – you’d be forgiven for mistaking Mercer’s Creek for a meticulously created museum. It is in fact a wholly authentic relic, barely untouched from its centuries-old heyday.

It also has the prestigious honour of being Antigua & Barbuda’s only remaining sugarcane plantation house.

In addition to the Great House, the property includes the original sugarmill which remains in excellent shape and even contains the wheel and some engine parts. There is also the boiling house, estate manager’s house – currently used as a guest cottage – and various other outbuildings.

Built by the Watkins family in the 1670s, the residence sits on a limestone bluff overlooking a beautiful archipelago of islets. It is constructed of Cotswold stone brought from England as ballast on merchant ships.

Spanning 26 acres of land which stretches all the way to the ocean, the plantation is ideal for development by a visionary investor – perhaps as an exceptional boutique hotel and resort - and has no planning restrictions.

History buffs will delight in the furnishings, most of which date back several hundred years. The house is accessed by a stone courtyard, flanked by mature tropical gardens. All rooms have multiple doors and large windows which keep the interior light and breezy. The main floor houses a lounge and reception area which gives way to a magnificent dining room with original candle sconces on the ceiling and walls. Electricity was not installed until the 1990s – and in fact the candles provide enough light to render the switches unnecessary here.

The dining room leads into a stunning drawing room with piano, an abundance of splendid paintings, antique knickknacks, and a 1930s bar set into the wall.

This floor also has two vast double bedrooms, both with en-suites, a separate guest washroom, and a pretty verandah overlooking the gardens.

The square compact kitchen, with modern appliances and scenic views on both sides, was a later addition. It backs onto the original cookhouse which would have been a detached structure in its day, due to the prevalence of fires, and still contains the original charcoal burner and cupboards.

Downstairs are two more behemoth bedrooms including the master suite which boasts three-foot thick stone walls and would have been used as a refuge from pirates and hurricanes alike. There are two more bathrooms on this floor. All four bedrooms are air-conditioned.

Outside is a large swimming pool, deep enough to dive, with a bar and terracotta sundeck. There is also a small jetty on the water’s edge which could be extended.

The entire property is for sale fully furnished, except the four-poster beds. The one-bedroom former estate manager’s home is fitted with modern appliances and has a shower en-suite.

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