One of Spanish Town’s principal historic houses, it is now a depressing sight. From being more or less intact in around 2000, and despite being leased by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT), the house is now largely ruined with perhaps just over half of its walls still standing. Most of the damage has been caused by the robbing of its walls for cheap bricks, leading to collapse of its walls and then floors and roofs. This shows just why a new source of bricks is needed – if new bricks were cheaper than those ‘liberated’ from old buildings, there would be much less incentive to steal them. Just the other side of Emancipation Square, a delightful two bay house which was still largely intact and for sale in 2016 has since been entirely lost, leaving only an overgrown heap, now that its bricks have been plundered.
Since the FGSJ’s visit in 2019, the upper part of the front wall of Manchester House has collapsed, as we had then predicted, as no action was taken to stabilise the remains as we proposed. On this visit, the FGSJ visited the building with the Chair of the St Catherine Parish Physical Planning & Environment Committee and a member of the JNHT’s Estates Department, and a discussion was held about how the ruin might become part of a new building and so revived.
The FGSJ is drawing what survives of the walls so that a scheme for their temporary restraint can be designed and costed, in the hope that funding can be found to erect this and prevent further collapses.