The domestic architecture of the earliest British colonies in the American tropics:a study of the houses of the Caribbean Leeward Islands of St. Christopher, Nevis, Antigua and Montserrat. 1624-1726.
Hobson, Daphne Louise
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This study delineates the domestic architecture of the early colonial period in the American tropics in the first group of British colonies that survived. In 1624, the English made their first permanent settlement on St. Christopher in the Caribbean, then expanded to the neighboring islands of Nevis, Antigua and Montserrat. Of particular interest to this research was what the architecture would reveal regarding how the first settlers adapted to the new island environment, its geography, resources, climate, and people, in the first 100 years. The research involved the examination of manuscripts of the period in archives and collections in the UK, USA and Caribbean. The historical data accumulated was primarily inventories and brief descriptions of houses, business correspondence and a small number of official maps. A key resource was a document listing the losses of buildings and possessions suffered as a result of French raids in 1705-1706. The study views the recorded items not as losses, but instead as proof of what once existed, almost as newly found "treasure", and analyzes the items both qualitatively and quantitatively in order to reveal a clearer picture of daily life for the settlers, from modest farmers to wealthier land owners. The study identified house types, stylistic trends in the houses and their furnishing, patterns of use, and construction methods. The architecture recorded the British colonists' process of adaptation to the unfamiliar environment. The study found that Leeward Islands, in the settler period of English colonization (1624-1726) there was a significant degree of interaction and exchange between the Amerindian and British peoples. In addition, it found correlations with rural houses in the wider American tropical region.