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For much of the eighteenth century the Codrington land on Barbuda was used to produce food and to supply additional slave labour for the Codrington sugar plantations on Antigua, and so the Barbuda's fortunes rose and fell with those of its larger neighbour. Testament to the influence of the Codringtons remains today, both in the island's place names and in its architectural remains. On Barbuda's highest point (124 feet) are the ruins of the Codrington estate, Highland House, and on the island's south coast still sits the 56-foot high Martello castle and tower, a fortress that was used both for defense and as a vantage from which to spot valuable shipwrecks on the outlying reefs.
This rambling array of gun emplacements and military buildings is best known today for the absolutely breathtaking prospect that it offers. From the Heights one can look far out over English Harbour, and on Sunday afternoons the view is accompanied by barbecue, rum punch, and the plangent strains of steel band and reggae music. The site is named for General Shirley, Governor of the Leeward Islands when the area was fortified in the late eighteenth century. Close by is the cemetery, in which stands an obelisk erected in honour of the soldiers of the 54th regiment.
Antiguan folk pottery dates back at least to the early 18th century, when slaves fashioned cooking vessels from local clay. Today, folk pottery is fashioned in a number of places around Antigua, but the center of this cottage industry is Sea View Farm Village. The clay is collected from pits located nearby, and the wares are fired in an open fire under layers of green grass in the yards of the potters' houses. Folk pottery can be purchased at outlets in the village as well as at a number of stores around the island. Buyers should be aware that Antiguan folk pottery breaks rather easily in cold environments.
Harmony Hall, in Brown's Bay at Nonsuch Bay, is the center of the Antiguan arts community. Exhibits change throughout the year, but the annual highlights are the Antigua Artist's Exhibition and the Craft Fair, both in November. The sugar mill tower around which Harmony Hall is built has been converted to a bar and provides its patrons with one of the island's best panoramic views, including a fine prospect of Nonsuch Bay.
This charming museum tells the story of Antigua and Barbuda from its geological birth through the present day. A cool oasis in the middle of St. John's, the museum contains a wide variety of fascinating objects and exhibits, ranging from a life-size replica of an Arawak dwelling to the bat of Viv Richards, one of the greatest cricket players of all time.
English Harbour, Antigua's graceful and evocative historic district, is focused on the fifteen square miles of Nelson's Dockyard National Park. Developed as a base for the British Navy in the great age of sail, the harbour served as the headquarters of the fleet of the Leeward Islands during the turbulent years of the late 18th century. Although the dockyard was greatly expanded at that time by Horatio Nelson, it was gradually abandoned in the nineteenth century and was closed in 1889. Today Nelson's Dockyard has been completely restored, and it is now the only Georgian dockyard in the world.
Almost all of the park's other sites of interest overlook the harbour. The closest of these is Clarence House, a residence built for the future King William IV (1765-1837) when he served under Nelson as captain of the H.M.S. Pegasus. Further above the harbour, at Shirley Heights, are the partially-restored fortifications of the harbour's colonial observation post; the view from Shirley Heights extends out over the harbour and far across the Caribbean to Montserrat and Guadaloupe.