Rio Bueno, a charming little town on the island’s North Coast, retains many of its cutstone Georgian buildings including (albeit somewhat decrepit) the Wellington tavern, a little hotel described by Monk Lewis in 1816 as “a very good inn”. Before that, Lady Nugent had enjoyed “a profuse second breakfast” there on her progress through Jamaica with her husband, the Governor, in 1802.
The harbour is little used now, but its stone wharves are more or less intact. So, too, is Fort Dundas, the sizeable British military installation built on the bluff in 1778.
Most striking of all the town’s surviving historic structures is the little church of St Mark, picturesquely located on a hillock overlooking the sea. Disaster struck in March, 2005, when fire spread from burning-off in the neighbouring school ground to the church’s roof of cedar shingles, destroying it entirely but, luckily, leaving the quaint timber gallery, interior fittings and mural monuments intact.
Local well-wishers, spearheaded by Sheila Hart, were quick to form an emergency fund-raising committee, and the Friends of the Georgian Society of Jamaica were delighted to respond with a donation of £2,000. A temporary roof was installed until the repair appeal, with a target of £30,000, was well under way, following which the work was quickly and efficiently carried out.