This week our tour of Barbados historic properties continues and Island Villas is stepping back in time at Tyrol Cot. After our walk through the impressive main house, we venture in to the Chattel House Museum, a collection of structures depicting traditional Barbados properties from the 1800s right up to when slavery was abolished in Barbados.


The term chattel house dates back to the days of the plantations when plantation workers lived in moveable structures, modest wooden buildings that could be lifted as needed. They were moveable because the land did not belong to the workers so you had to be prepared to move at a moment’s notice.

An interesting feature of the original chattel house was that the windows and door were always open as a way of welcoming people. Visitors could literally let themselves in, giving new meaning to the term ‘make yourself at home.’ Cooking and bathing were done on the outside of the home, with splashes of water on the face and hands sufficient for during the week and full baths once a week on Sundays (water conservation at its best).


As time passed, the Barbados chattel house became more architecturally advanced. With the abolition of slavery and the opportunity to now purchase a Barbados property and land, the moveable structures now took root and people expanded, adding rooms and other touches. Intricate wooden detailing at the front of the house was done to welcome people and several beautiful designs can be seen at the Chattel House Museum.


From then to now, the chattel house remains an integral part of Barbados heritage. As part of our tour we stop and chat with Gregory , a barber who has now set up shop within one of the chattel houses at the museum. It is a perfect blend of old and new!


Other highlights include the replica of a slave hut which has been done to the exact dimensions, a Bajan Monkey Jug (cool water without a fridge!) and the Blacksmith shop.


Our tour has now come to an end but we will most definitely be back to visit the Tyrol Cot Heritage Village. After all, where else would we learn about ‘Blowing in the Goose Batty’ (check our Facebook page for that meaning and more Bajan tidbits).


Investment is presently being sought to restore sections of the property as it is in need of some repair. Island Villas strongly supports the work of the Barbados National Trust and we encourage you to check out our next post when we continue our tour of the Tyrol Cot Heritage Village.