Professor Henry FraserArchitecural Historian / Heritage Consultant
Chairman, Sentinel Committee, Barbados National Trust
Writer, TV Presenter, National Orator & Motivational Speaker
Professor Emertius, Medicine and Clinical Pharmacology.
Immediate Past Dean, Faculty of Medical Sciences.
University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados.


Article Index

THINGS THAT MATTER: Our Magnificent Museum Magazine

Henry S Fraser

Our splendid Barbados Museum and Historical Society, housed in the old Military Prison of the Garrison, and standing on a slight rise on the opposite side of the Savannah to the Main Guard and Clock Tower, provides both a sweeping view of the Garrison and a sweeping historical view of Barbados. Founded in 1933, with an Act of Incorporation of the Society passed by the Legislature on May 31, we can be justly proud of having one of the finest museums in the Caribbean. Its collections range from the original collection of my great uncle the Reverend N.B.Watson of St. Lucy – both priest, naturalist, entomologist and avid collector – to precious items of art and artefacts spanning the millennia; and hundreds if not thousands of other interesting items in storage. And the splendid journal attempts to do justice to the riches of this collection.

The first issue of the journal was issued in November 1933 – Volume 1, number 1. As the first editor stated in his editorial: “… we have waited over 300 years to found a historical society, but once this was founded there has been no delay in issuing a Journal … will be issued regularly each Quarter …. Price 4/- …”

The first issue contained an article on the Society’s Corporate Seal by Mr. Eustace Shilstone, an account of the history of the formation of the museum, including a partial list of the hundreds of items in the Watson collection, and the report of the Committee of 1910 on the Historic Sites and Buildings of Barbados. Other important topics in that first year were: a seminal article on the geology of Barbados by Sir John Saint, the first of many fascinating extracts from old newspapers – “The Barbadian, 1822 – 1823, Historic sites re-visited, An Account of the Fatal Hurricane which Barbados suffered in 1831, and the Centenary of the Abolition of Slavery in the British Empire.

The journal was edited throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s by historian Peter Campbell, briefly by Dr. Tony Phillips, and for the last 15 years by Dr. Karl Watson. The tradition of scholarship has been successfully maintained and improved, and one of the many valuable features of the recent journal is the inclusion of a wide range of fascinating articles by young scholars in the M.A. Heritage Studies at the UWI, a relatively new programme introduced by Dr. Watson.

The latest issue of the journal, published this week, is rich in content and variety, with papers by leading local scholars and Bajans abroad, although it leads off with a paper by Martyn Bowden, retired Professor Urban Geography at Clark University, who has had a long fascination with the history of Bridgetown; he writes now of the Jewish occupation of Bridgetown’s historic core – a paper of immense interest with the recognition of the importance of our Jewish population, ancient synagogue and astonishing discovery of the mikvah.

Henry Fraser Historic Houses Of Barbados Book CoverHistoric Houses of Barbados
Written by Henry Fraser & Ronnie Huges.
Available at all book leading book stores in Barbados.

Henry Fraser Treasures Of Barbados Book CoverTreasures of Barbados
Written by Sir George Alleyne and edited by Henry Fraser.
Available at the UWI Bookshop the publishers.

Henry Fraser Chattle House Book CoverBarbados Chattel Houses
Written by Henry Fraser and Bob Kiss.
Available at all leading book stores.

Henry Fraser A-Z Barbados Book CoverA-Z of Barbados Heritage
Written by Sean Carrington, Henry Fraser, John Gilmore and Addington Forde.
Available at Days Bookstore Barbados and

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