Caribbean Destination Guide: Antigua’s Betty’s Hope Sugar Plantation
by Karen Rollins Sep 4, 2023
Betty’s Hope was the first and largest sugar plantation in Antigua and Barbuda and has a history that goes back to the 17th Century.
The founder of Betty’s Hope was Governor Keynell. His widow inherited the land when he died in 1663 but she fled Antigua three years later when the French occupied the country.
When Antigua was retaken by the British, the parliament annulled all land claims before the French occupation for those who had fled or been disloyal to the Crown.
In 1674, Betty’s Hope was given to the Codrington family who were living in Barbados. The plantation was named after the daughter of one of its former occupiers and operated for nearly 300 years until 1944.
There are two sugar mills on the site and the main one is now a major tourist attraction after being restored with new sails and crushing machinery. Most of the other buildings, such as the slave quarters and the Great House, remain in ruins.
There is a visitor centre and museum, as well as information panels dotted around to provide insight into the life of the plantation, which once had more than 300 enslaved people living and working on it.
It’s well worth visiting Betty’s Hope for a glimpse into Antigua’s colonial history and the central role the country played in Britain’s sugar industry.