English Harbour

English Harbour, Antigua

English Harbour, Antigua’s stylish and expressive historic district, is concentrated on the fifteen square miles of Nelson’s Dockyard National Park. Developed as a base for the British Navy in the excellent age of sail, the harbor acted as the head office of the fleet of the Leeward Islands throughout the rough years of the late 18th century. Although the dockyard was significantly broadened at that time by Horatio Nelson, it was slowly abandoned in the 19th century and was enclosed 1889. Today Nelson’s Dockyard has actually been completely recovered, and it is now the only Georgian dockyard worldwide.

Practically all of the park’s various other sites of interest overlook the harbor. The closest of these is Clarence Home, a house constructed for the future King William IV (1765-1837) when he served under Nelson as captain of the H.M.S. Pegasus. Further above the harbor, at Shirley Heights, are the partially-restored strongholds of the harbor’s colonial observation post; the view from Shirley Heights extends out over the harbor and far throughout the Caribbean to Montserrat and Guadaloupe. On Sundays the vista is improved by barbeque and live music at bench there (Steel Band music from 3-6 pm & & reggae from 6-9). Shirley Heights can be reached by means of Lookout Path, a nature walk that increases from the harbor through a forest of trees– descending the path is not a good idea after dark or barbecue celebration.

Along Lookout Path and near Shirley Heights is Dow’s Hill Analysis Center, at which visitors can watch a remarkable multimedia performance of Antigua’s history, from its preliminary settlement to independence. Observation decks at Dow’s Hillside offer another great view of the harbor, as do the ruined strongholds of Ft Berkeley, found on the far side of the bay and reached by a walk around its boundary. All these points, along with the park’s convenient beaches, end up being particularly popular spectator positions throughout Sailing Week.

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