THE WATCH HOUSE FOR SALEFriday 27th June 2014
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The Watch House may be one of Jolly Harbour’s best kept secrets. Ensconced in the heart of the fashionable west coast area and its abundant first-rate amenities, it simultaneously offers enviable seclusion, and jaw-dropping panoramic vistas.
Its broad verandahs, teased by soft trade winds, are prime locations to survey the purlieus of the marina, the arboreous mountains to the east and the resplendent aquamarine waters beyond.
Accessed by a blink-and-you’d-miss-it gravel road just past the main commercial centre, the five-bedroom two-storey villa at the top of the hill feels like a serendipitous discovery.
In fact it was the cloistered setting which enticed its current owner to build here. Former Governor-General Sir James Carlisle to be precise.
“The land used to be owned by my relatives,” Sir James says. “They grew cotton in years gone by - I used to pick the cotton during my school vacations as a little boy.”
Construction on the house began in the early 2000s, during Sir James’ 14-year term as the Queen’s official representative to Antigua. Aside from sentiment and blissful schoolboy memories, there were a few more practical considerations to be taken into account when drafting the blueprint.
First and foremost was the need for privacy and security.
“There’s certainly a great deal of privacy, and it’s within a gated community. I have always loved the views too,” he continues, “Not only do we have sea views, we also have the mountains and the golf course.”
Born and raised on island, Sir James’ vision was for his new home to be of authentic Caribbean design. And who better to create that than eminent architect and long-term Antigua resident Andrew Goodenough.
“The style is traditional to the region – we have the wide verandahs and the steep ceilings to keep it cool. There’s always a breeze here, you hardly ever need to use the air-conditioning.”
The final factor was rather more subjective.
“Because I was in public office we had to entertain a lot of high officials. We needed nice spaces for socialising, but not overly formal. The house will definitely appeal to someone who likes entertaining,” he smiles.
The large shaded verandah at the front of the house is ideal for gatherings. Exquisitely styled, it’s a vision of distressed wooden beams, terracotta tiled flooring, comfy sofas, dining table and chairs for 10. It overlooks the vast garden’s tropical mature trees, swimming pool and sundeck, as windchimes provide a mellifluous soundtrack to the hustle and bustle of the harbour beneath.
The smaller verandah on the east side boasts an equally stunning scene of perfectly manicured grounds, and more places to lounge, dine and relax.
Built on sheet rock and featuring original stone, the property is sturdy and robust enough to withstand stormy weather.
Inside, the ambience is bright and airy thanks to numerous doors and windows, all fitted with wooden hurricane shutters, which keep the interior light and comfortable. There’s an indescribably homely feel as soon as one sets foot indoors.
The front door opens into a small reception area with elegant period-style furniture suiting to the traditional architecture. Shipped in especially from Puerto Rico it adds tasteful mahogany accents throughout.
The large kitchen, with stylish distressed wood units, features modern chrome appliances, a centre island with four-burner stove, and a separate built-in oven. The kitchen leads into a large lounge filled with intriguing objets d’art. Solid purpleheart floors, laid over cement, banish any noise from the rooms underneath.
A long hallway runs the length of this rectangular shaped villa, giving access to an elegant master suite with four-poster bed, his and hers walk-in closets, and a huge en-suite with bath and shower cubicle.
Also on this floor are two double rooms, both with en-suites, a single bedroom, and a guest washroom. A wonderful study with built-in wood cabinets is the perfect spot for undisturbed work.
There are air-conditioning units throughout the house.
The downstairs area would make an ideal self-contained apartment and even has its own entrance which opens onto the pool area. There is a generous double bedroom, a large bathroom with over-sized shower cubicle and a spacious family room. An additional extra room is currently used for arts and crafts but could be turned into a kitchenette.
The house occupies a 1.9-acre site. Included in the sale is almost five acres of neighbouring land, subdivided into approximately half-acre plots. Every plot boasts a stunning view and could be bought individually or collectively.
After almost a decade in the property Sir James and wife, Lady Emma, are preparing to relocate to the south of the island. For Sir James, there is one aspect of life at The Watch House that he will miss the most.
“We get the most glorious sunsets here. As a little boy I loved to watch the sun disappear into the horizon.
“At school we learned at school that the earth goes around the sun,” he adds with a smile. “But watching the sun drop over the edge like that, I was quite sure they were wrong.”
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