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St. Kitts Makes Its History Come Alive in MarchMarch 8, 2012 By: Joe Pike
Concurrent with celebrations marking the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for the 60th year of her reign, the island is hosting special events this March that put the spotlight on its storied past.
Later this month, travelers and residents will have the opportunity to witness the re-enactment of the famous 1782 Great Siege of Brimstone Hill.
From March 29-30, the British Soldiers Fund and the Brimstone Brigade re-enactors from Massachusetts will join with select local residents to recreate the historic battle, open to public viewing twice daily at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. for a total of four performances.
Dressed in period regalia, they will use real weaponry, including authentic muskets and bayonets, to stage the battle for maximum dramatic effect. In the actual battle, the French forces attacked St. Kitts with 8,000 soldiers and 31 warships, forcing local militia to retreat to Brimstone Hill Fortress, where with the garrison (altogether numbering less than 1,000) held out for four weeks of heavy artillery fire before they surrendered. On the evening of March 30, the group will also re-enact a capture of high-ranking French officers by enslaved Africans on St. Kitts.
For a scenic journey around the island, visitors can take a ride on the St. Kitts Scenic Railway, which uses the same tracks originally used to transport sugar cane from the plantations to the sugar factory in Basseterre. Or, travelers are welcome to stroll the grounds of Romney Manor, once home to the Earl of Romney and now home to tropical gardens as well as the popular Caribelle Batik factory, where batik fabric is made by hand using centuries-old methods.
At nearby Wingfield Estate, established in 1625 and once home to Thomas Jefferson’s great-great-great grandfather, excavations have revealed the ruins of a centuries-old rum distillery as well as a well-preserved aqueduct, chimney and sugar boiling room.