A Unique Hotel of the 18th Century

In 1754, Antigua was recorded as “the key of the British Navigation to all the Sugar Islands, and even Jamaica itself.”  To protect this vital interest, the British Crown dispatched the Royal Navy to patrol the Caribbean.  English Harbour, along the south coast of Antigua, was chosen for the region's only dockyard and repair facility.  Its narrow entrance, deep bays, and high surrounding hills provided protection during hurricanes and prevented enemies from sailing by and spying on the daily operations.  Warships could careen, repair, and resupply in safety.

The Copper and Lumber Store is a large Georgian yellow brick warehouse, built in 1789 just as the heyday of naval operations in English Harbour were getting started.  The building contains three large connected galleries.  The ground floor was used to store lumber for repairing wooden warships, and copper sheets.  The copper was used to cover the bottoms of warships.  Copper protected the wood underneath and prevented marine growth on the bottoms.  This increased the life of the warship as well as its speed.

The second story and attic spaces under the gabled roof were used to house sailors while their vessels were being repaired.  The sailors would sling their hammocks along the beams much in the same way that they would at sea.

After the Royal Navy abandoned English Harbour in the 1890s, the buildings fell into disrepair.  Extensive renovation work was carried out in the 1960s.  To preserve as much of its original use as possible, the building was converted into a boutique historic inn.  The renovation work consisted of replacing the interior timbers using the same post and beam technique historically used.  The major change was to the roof, with the middle of the center gallery opened to create the gorgeous central courtyard.

Each of the suites are nods to the historic character of the building and Nelson’s Dockyard, appointed with antique furniture and finished with Georgian inspired touches.  The romance of English Harbour is found in the weathered brick arches and exposed timbers, harkening to a different time.

History is what sets the Copper and Lumber Historic Inn apart from every hotel, and every suite comes with its own story from the Battle of Trafalgar.

Achille – Contemporary Studio

HMS Achille was a 74-gun third rate ship of the line.  Built in 1798 in Gravesend, she served in Admiral Collingwood’s squadron at the Battle of Trafalgar.  There, the Achille engaged three vessels of equal or larger size, ending with the capture of the French Berwick (74).  Despite being under fire and in close engagement for several hours, the Achille only had 13 killed and 59 wounded from a crew of about 700.

Africa – Georgian Suite

HMS Africa was a 64-gun fourth rate ship of line, built at Deptford in 1801.  At the Battle of Trafalgar, Africa arrived late and did not know the battle plans.  Rather than hang back, she sailed the length of the enemy line, trading broadsides with every vessel as she passed.

Agamemnon – Contemporary Suite

The Agamemnon was a 64-gun fourth rate ship of the line.  Nelson served as captain of the Agamemnon between 1793 and 1797.  He fell in love with the ship, declaring it is favourite command.  During the Battle of Trafalgar, the Agamemnon engaged four larger vessels at the same time.  Luckily for her, she was built somewhat smaller, and the broadsides from the enemy vessels went over her top and she suffered very little damage while fighting the other vessels to a standstill.

Ajax – Georgian Suite

The Ajax was one of the newest vessels at the Battle of Trafalgar.  She was a 74-gun third rate, launched in 1801.  In the battle, she forced off one enemy and captured a second one.  Unfortunately, in 1807, an accidental fire broke out while she was on patrol in the Mediterranean, and she sank.

Amazon – Georgian Suite

The Amazon was a 38-gun frigate.  She participated in the Battle of Copenhagen.  Nelson had given command of all the frigates and smaller warships to Captain Riou of the Amazon to provide support for the larger warships as they engaged the Danish fleet and coastal defenses.  Unfortunately, several of the larger warships under Nelson ran aground.  Seeing disaster, Riou led his vessels into the battle and engaged the much larger Danish vessels.  Receiving a mauling, the vessels were ordered to break off the engagement.  During the retreat, Riou was cut in half by a cannon shot.  His actions that day, however, tipped the balance in favour of the British and Nelson.

Badger – Contemporary Studio

During times of need, small vessels were often purchased by commanding officers on station to reinforce the larger warships.  These small vessels would be used to patrol and chase small privateers.  In 1781, the brig Badger was purchased at Jamaica.  While this was not particularly consequential, a young Lieutenant Horatio Nelson was given the Badger as his first command of a commissioned warship.

Boreas – Contemporary Suite

A 24-gun frigate, the Boreas served as Horatio Nelson’s first command as a Captain.  The Boreas was also the vessel in which Nelson served in Antigua between 1784 and 1787.

Britannia – Georgian Studio

The Britannia was a 100-gun first rate ship of the line and one of the largest in the Royal Navy.  During the Battle of Trafalgar she destroyed the French Intrepide.

Collingwood – Contemporary Suite

Vice Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood was one of Nelson’s oldest companions.  The were both young captains in Antigua on their first commands in the 1780s.  Their friendship and mutual respect culminated in the Battle of Trafalgar where Collingwood served as Nelson’s second in command, and ultimately succeeded him after Nelson died.

Dreadnought – Contemporary Suite

The Dreadnaught was a 98-gun second rate ship of the line.  She served as Admiral Collingwood’s flagship before and after the Battle of Trafalgar.

Freelance – Contemporary Studio

The Freelance was a classic schooner brought to Antigua in the 1960s as a charter vessel.  In 1976 the Freelance attended the bicentennial Tall Ships Regatta in New York with an all Antigua, all black crew.  She served for many years as a training vessel in English Harbour for local sailors, riggers, and other specialty jobs in the yachting industry.
Thomas Masterman Hardy, Bt (1769-1839), Vice-Admiral of the Blue *oil on canvas *143.5 x 113.7 cm *1834

Hardy – Contemporary Suite

Vice Admiral Thomas Hardy was Nelson’s Captain.  He served under Nelson in all of his major battles, first as a lieutenant at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent, and then as captain at the Battle of the Nile, the Battle of Copenhagen, and the Battle of Trafalgar.

Royal Sovereign – Georgian Studio

The Royal Sovereign was one of the largest British warships afloat.  A 100-gun first rate ship of the line, she served as Admiral Collingwood’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Victory – Georgian Suite

The Victory is perhaps the most famous British warship, serving as Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar.  A 100-gun first rate ship of the line, the Victory remains the longest commissioned warship in the Royal Navy.  She is still considered an active warship and can be visited at Portsmouth in England today.