Trelawny is located in the north-western section of the island. Its land area is 874.6 square kilometres (353 square miles). A lot of the parish is flat with wide plains such as Queen of Spain's Valley, 750 feet above sea level, and Windsor, 580 feet above sea level with most of southern Trelawny at 750 feet above sea level.
The southern section of the parish is part of the Cockpit Country and is uninhabitable. This makes it a natural reserve for flora and fauna. Most of Jamaica's 27 endemic bird species can be found there, maybe a harmless yellow snake and perhaps the giant swallowtail butterfly, the largest butterfly in the western hemisphere.
The highest point in the parish is Mount Ayr which is 3000 feet above sea level.
Most of the parish has the typical limestone features of cockpits, sinkholes, caves and underground passages. One of the largest caves is the Windsor Cave where in the rainy season the roar of the Martha Brae can be heard as it flows underground. Another in upper Trelawny is Carambi Cave known for its beauty and phosphate deposits. There are several other caves which have Taino carvings on the walls near Pantrepant. There are 48 caves with phosphate deposits.
In addition to caves there are several underground conduits. One of the longest which runs for 15 miles is found near Stewart Town.
The main rivers are the Martha Brae, Rio Bueno, Cane and Quashie.
In 1770 the wealthy planters in eastern St James and western St Ann finally succeeded in having sections of those parishes become the parish of Trelawny as they were too far from administrative centres. It was named after Sir William Trelawny who was then the Governor of Jamaica. The first capital was Martha Brae located two miles inland from Rock Bay.
Trelawny reputedly had more sugar estates than any other parish so there was need for a seacoast town to export sugar. Lands were bought from Edward Moulton Barrett (the father of the poetess Elizabeth Barrett Browning) and Barrett Town became one of the best laid out towns in Jamaica. It was renamed Falmouth and the planters erected luxurious townhouses. Falmouth became a thriving seaport and social centre. The town had two of its own newspapers - The Falmouth Post and The Falmouth Gazette. The first Jamaican Derby was run at Cave Island. The Rev William Knibb the great emancipator served in Falmouth. Today Falmouth is an historic and architectural treasure that needs to be preserved.
The largest group of Maroons, descendants of the slaves left in the island by the Spaniards and runaway slaves, lived in the southern section of the parish in the Cockpit Country. Their chief town was Trelawny Town. A treaty between the Maroons and the English in 1739 gave the Maroons their freedom and land and effectively stopped their raids on the plantations. In 1795 the second Maroon uprising led to over 600 Maroons being exiled to Nova Scotia in Canada and later to Sierra Leone in Africa in 1800. Trelawny Town was razed to the ground in reprisals.
Today the parish still has a large agricultural sector. Its tourist potential has to be further explored, particularly eco-tourism and the preservation of its historical treasures.
Major Industries/Sources of Employment
Sugar cane, yams, strawberries, vegetables, pimento, coffee, ginger, coconut, dyewoods
The major hotels are Braco Village Resort, Silver Sands Resort, Trelawny Beach Hotel. This sector is growing.
There are 25 factories in the parish which produce sugar, rum, apparel among other things. Two of the eight remaining sugar factories in the island are in Trelawny, - Hampden Sugar Factory and Trelawny Sugar formerly Long Pond Sugar Factory.
There are ten beaches along the coast with more than 30 boats each as well as 27 fish ponds. However, the industry is declining.
Major Historical/Cultural/Recreational/Ecological Sites
Falmouth Court House
It was built in 1815. After a fire in 1926 it was successfully rebuilt except for an unfortunate variation in the original roof line. It is an impressive structure with a handsome portico carried on four Doric columns and reached by a double staircase.
Falmouth Parish Church
The Anglican Church of St Peter's is located on Duke Street. It was built in 1795 and has the distinction of being the oldest church in the parish and the oldest public building in Falmouth. The land for the church was donated by Edward Barrett who had sold a part of his estate to have the township built. In 1842 it was enlarged with a western extension which now forms the nave.
Hyde Hall Estate
There is an old monument erected to a slave in the old slave village. It is dated 1800. The story goes that a slave, Eve, was the woman in charge of the children of the slaves who went to work during the day. She died by drowning in a pond on Hyde Hall. The inscription says the monument was erected "by a grateful master, Henry Shirley."
Guides are recommended if visitors wish to explore these caves. About 200 yards beyond the narrow entrance is a large gallery full of stalactites. A second passage opens to another large chamber with a dramatically arched ceiling. In the rainy season one can hear the roar of the Martha Brae flowing underground. Further chambers range from tight fit to huge. One can explore safely for more than a mile.
To the east of Falmouth there is a bay with a mysterious glow at night. Oyster Bay also known as Luminous Lagoon contains the largest concentration of bioluminescent micro-organisms. The water glows like green fire at night with the effect of the phosphorescence such that moving fish appear like the trail of a comet.
Good Hope Great House
The estate was settled in 1742 and the house built around 1755 on top of a hillock. It belonged to John Tharp who became the wealthiest man in Jamaica. At one time he owned 10,00 acres and 3000 slaves in Trelawny and St James. The house was recently restored as a stately hotel. It has some of the best examples of Georgian architecture in a state of good repair in the island. There are the Great House, the Counting House, Ice House, Estate Offices and Sugar Works. The slave hospital was turned into a chapel and subsequently the wooden sections and pews of the church were used to make barrels and its bell sold to the Falmouth Parish Church for fifty pounds.
When sugar was 'king' an iron foundry to repair sugar estate machinery was a necessity. The Dome located at the corner of Thorpe and Upper Harbour St was constructed in 1801 for this purpose.
Martha Brae River- Rafting
The three miles journey rafting down the Martha Brae River begins at Rafters Village, a picnic ground situated on a great loop of the swift flowing river. The journey takes 90 minutes on long bamboo rafts manoeuvred by skillful raftsmen. At places further down river there are pools to bathe and shady glades to pass under.