Thetford Great House





Thetford Great House formally known as “Mr. Clyde’s house” by Villagers is one of the major feature points of Spring Village. The house is located on the outskirts of the Northern section of the village on what is known as Thetford Hill. It can be seen from certain locations inside the village such as Hayes pen and the hills of Elvin.


Thetford Hill is one of the highest points in the region and borders areas such as Davis and other surrounding communities. The location is so elevated that one is able to view places like Bushy Park, Old Harbor Bay and Port Esquivel with much ease. These views are even more breathtaking when seen from the open balcony of the house, where various areas across the Village can be seen with little effort. It is possible that this was a likely lookout during the period of the British occupation, especially during the days of the Slave trade and the Great Bushy Park sugar Estate, where approaching ships and other pertinent activities could be monitored. The view from this point encompasses the surrounding coastline and beyond. With a reasonable pair of binoculars, one is able to see the many islands off coast as well as the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.


Thetford House is not only one of the oldest pieces of architecture connected with the village but is a very significant piece of Jamaican history, in that, the property was given to Colonel Thomas Fuller as a reward for his involvement in the capture of Jamaica from the Spaniards during the British invasion in the year 1655.  This explains why today we still have surviving names of surrounding areas such as Fuller, Fuller Lane and Fuller River. The property was originally named after Thomas Fuller but later bought by the father of Clyde Verley (Mr. Vincent Verley) after it was found that Mr. Fuller had no heir to pass it on to (as told by a senior Villager, Mr. young).  The original name of the mound was Fuller Hill but was later renamed to Thetford by the Verleys.


The Fullers as one would expect, were quite influential within the area especially since they were large land owners, with property stretching all the way to church pen. This was quite evident, in fact, Mr. Fuller and his wife Catherine donated land for the building of St. Dorothy’s Anglican Church, also known as “Tamarind Tree Church” by most locals. Major funding for the church was made by Colonel John Colbeck, owner of Colbeck Castle.

The church was built in 1681 and bears the marks of British influence since the Anglican Church was England’s main denomination of that period. The name "Anglican" means "of England" and was spread worldwide first by English colonization and then by English-speaking missionaries. The presence of this prominent church building may explain how the area “Church Pen” got its name. Tamarind Tree Church was quite significant since the area (including Old Harbour) was part of the parish of St. Dorothy.  St. Dorothy was its own parish and was originally a part of Clarendon. It separated around 1675 and was not absorbed into St. Catherine until after 1866. It should be noted that these parishes came about as various British people became governors or obtained significant posts of leadership. Along with this they were able to have large masses of land bearing their name or that of their favorite patron saint.



As the years of the Verley ownership transpired, they not only changed the name of the primary Fuller legacy but also fatefully changed the name of the Village from its original name, “Pothouse Pen” to “Spring Village” as it is known today. This was said to have been be done by Mr. Clyde Verley in 1916, since by the way, the Verleys were also the owners of Spring Gardens which originally encompassed the land mass from Spring Gardens to Hayes Pen.

The Verley’s influence was also evident in church life in the village and was probably involved in the construction of the Shiloh Baptist church. This is evident by a plaque above the front entrance of the building bearing the name of Clyde Verley. During his lifetime he was a frequent contributor of agricultural products whenever the church held its harvest celebrations and from time to time attended services there. He also handed out small parcels of food items to poor villagers who came to Thetford at Christmas time. These were sometimes purchased at the Nelson’s shop for distribution.



The House


The original house Fuller house was located almost at the foot of Thetford Hill and some of its structural remains can still be seen today. The new residence was constructed during the late Nineteenth Century and was named “Thetford House”. In fact, the entire area was renamed Thetford by the Verley family but the names of the main entrances leading to the property such as Fuller lane and Fuller River remained.


The house is of two story Georgian style and is of traditional colonial design where, bedrooms are located on the second floor and living, dining and other spaces for entertainment are located on the bottom.


The front entrance is covered by the balcony, which provides a sheltered entranceway for visitors as they arrive by their various modes of transportation.  The guests would then be ushered into the main foyer (covered with checkered black and white tiles), where it provides access to dining and living quarters and other areas for entertaining. At the end of the foyer towards the left, there is a large wooden staircase leading to the second floor where it leads to an open area providing access to the balcony. The rear half of the balcony is covered, however the front section is an open patio providing additional room for entertainment with the ambience of the view. The second floor has two large bedrooms, plus a gigantic master bedroom in the rear, which almost covers the width of the building. It opens into a small wooden back porch behind it. A bathroom is off to the right of the rear bedroom, which has a small toilet appended to it and protruding out to the back. This must have been relatively recent (considering the period) since, in those days there was no such thing as indoor toilets. The windows are boxed around with plantation style shutters reflecting the period. They also give the illusion of depth as well as provide additional shade.




Well known Villagers who worked for Mr. Clyde:

Mr. Lee (Pathcher) (of Rock Stone):         Drove Tractor, general errands

JuJu Harridon (of Church Pen):                 Chauffer (Occupied the house for a number of years after Mr. Clyde’s death)

Miss Ivy Davis (of Upper Rock Stone):       Domestic helper

Harbry Bogle (of Rock Stone):                  Property Ranger watchman



Information for further reading:

Thetford Great House          National Heritage Trust web site

The Verley Family Tree        Family Tree Website 

St. Dorothy’s Anglican         Church National Heritage Trust

Colbeck Castle                   National Heritage Trust web site

Admiral William Penn            Wikipedia Online

Anglican Church History       Anglican Domain

Georgian Architecture          Jamaica Georgian Society 

Search for Family Names      Jamaica Family search site

Search for Old Almanacs      Jamaica Almanacs search site




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