Dominica

Cotlette Bois

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History

This is one of the oldest surviving estates on the island dating from the early years of French settlement in the 1720s. It is situated at the head of the Soufriere Valley in the parish of St.Mark, standing in a valley created by the slopes of Morne Vert on one side and Morne Patate volcanic crater on the other. It was named after the Bois Cotlette tree (Citharexylum spinosum), which is common in the area. It is one of the only estates that is still in the hands of the descendants of its original owners: a combination of the Dupigny and the Bellot families who both came from France via Martinique and intermarried. It is the best preserved example of plantation architecture in Dominica, combining buildings for the processing of coffee, sugar and limes as well as its French colonial "Maison de Maitre". It has the only existing windmill tower on the island. This was turned by wind blowing along the valley from the south east coast.

Bois Cotlette produced both sugar and coffee at the same time. In the 1820s under J.B. Dupigny the estate was worked by 20 slaves who produced 2,000 pounds of sugar, 140 gallons of rum, 254 gallons of molasses and 2565 pounds of coffee. A coffee blight hit Dominica in the 1830s and 1840s and the estate struggled on with sugar alone until a different type of coffee was introduced. By the 1890s sugar production had largely been abandoned and there was a shift to growing cocoa, which along with limes was seen as being the new salvation for Dominica. The old sugar boilers were adapted to boiling limejuice and a mechanized lime crusher replaced the old sugar crushing cattle mill.

[Source: Lennox Honychurch's Dominica, cit. 2004]


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Last modified: October 17, 2004 Created by Petr Hloušek
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