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The Intriguing History of Graycliff, Nassau



The blooming flora and flourishing fauna of Nassau is what picture postcards are made of. The scenic beauty is such a delight that you can spend the whole day on the island just gazing and admiring the beauty that surrounds you. Famous for the Spanish invaders, looting of pirates and a 200 year old British Rule, Nassau has a rich historical significance and has a colonial charm that still exists today. Downtown Nassau offers the famous Government House and Parliament that is built in the English Georgian-style architecture.

When in Nassau, a trip to Graycliff is a must to unfold and live the intriguing story behind it. Captain John Howard Graysmith, a famous and notorious pirate, had built the original Graycliff Mansion in the year 1740. He was feared by all and his exploits on the Spanish Main gave him fame and fortune. During the second settlement in Nassau, the Governor Nicholas Trott, with the support of many pirates and privateers, built the first Anglican Church in Graycliff. However, in the year 1703 it was destroyed by Spaniards.

Graycliff boasts of having witnessed the era when the unofficial flag of Bahamas was “skull and crossbones”. The first Royal Governor of The Bahama Islands, Captain Woodes Roger, tried to bring an end to piracy. He acted as a privateer with the backing of the British and helped normalize trade. As an ode of respect to him Graycliff has named one of their guestrooms after him.

In 1776 the American Navy captured Nassau. At that time Graycliff served as the headquarters and garrisons for them. You can visit the past when you visit the renowned wine cellar and see the bars on the windows there that tell the story of 1776.

In 1884 Nathaniel French owned Graycliff and ran its operations. It became the first Inn in Nassau that depicted the true Caribbean hospitality to its travelers. During the American Civil War, Graycliff served as the Officers Mess for the West Indian Regiment. At that time the Bahamas had also become the headquarters for blockage runners and sold southern cotton to the British Mills in a trade-off for guns for the Confederacy.

The 1920’s witnessed Graycliff being accessible to the public again. Owned by Mrs. Polly Leach, Graycliff became the hub for the elite and rich. Later, Graycliff became the private abode of Mr. & Mrs. I. Walton Killiam. They renovated the entire property in a lavish style, with a beautiful swimming pool surrounded by lush tropical gardens. It remained their private property till Mrs. Killiam’s death in 1964 and was thereafter purchased by the Royalty in 1966 and Lord and Lady Dudley resided there.

Graycliff has had the honor of hosting the nobility like Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Sir Winston Churchill, Lord Mountbatten and Lord Beaverbrook. During her stay in Graycliff, Lady Dudley added an English accent to the décor of the place. Enrico and Anna Maria Garzaroli purchased Graycliff in 1973 and transformed it into the hotel and restaurant of today.



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