Richie Lupinacci Remembers
The Great House circa 1971 (photo credit The Byron Family) The Great House 2016 (photo credit The Bucket List Family)
The Hermitage has belonged to our family since the late 1960s. Since that was before I was born, I remember its early days in images of sepia and childhood discovery. While the property is under our care, my father has always made it clear to us that given the age and the history of the house, we must only every consider ourselves its custodians, with its upkeep a priority and a constant labor of love and vision.
My earlier imaginings of the Hermitage are that it was rescued from ruins, like something Kipling would pull out of the jungle, but in fact it was a living, loving house before we got here.
The Byron family is an old established Nevis family and one we are fortunate to have counted as friends for decades. Prior to our arrival at the house, the Byron family was residing here at Hermitage. Isabel Byron recently shared her memories of her childhood at Hermitage, where in fact she was born just 10 years before we moved in. Her family used the old cisterns, and the ancient drip stone water filter, they cultivated the land and used the old stables to raise fowl and grind corn.
We used to make cocoa from the cocoa trees, stewed guavas and cashews, mamee apple jam and guava jelly, and we would eat as many mangoes, pawpaws, chirries, custard apples, etc as we wanted and grow pineapples.We also sold breadfruit (there was a sizeable grove back then) to the people from the nearby villages and had a veritable menagerie: sheep, pigs, fowls, ducks and heaps of cats and dogs.My two older sisters and I had the upstairs bedroom and were surprised when we would return and your mother allowed us to go back up there, to see how small it was when in my memory it was so big, accommodating not only us but several doll families housed in cardboard boxes which lined the walls along with loads of books.
The Byron family helped modernize the Hermitage, passing it on to another generation. Isabel remembers her mother lovingly tending the garden, as I remember my mother in the same garden. I realize now how old the garden beds are; and the timelessness of the memory of one’s mother.
Isabel remembers: It was a wonderful living house full of magical places where our imaginations as children ran wild. Indeed the same was true for myself and my sisters, and now I enjoy watching my daughters and their cousins enjoy and explore this marvelous house.
After 40 years living at the Hermitage, I am still learning the appeal it has for so many.
Come visit, you'll see.