At the age of 28 a man by the name of Isaac Ryall established a sugar cane plantation in Antigua, in the West Indies. This was the apex of an adolescence and young adulthood devoted to surpassing his beginnings as the son of a carpenter. Along the way, he added an “o” to his name in order to alter it to the more patrician “Royall.”
Like others of his ilk Royall’s holdings were worked by slaves and, when he moved his family back to New England in 1732 as Antigua’s economy began failing amidst mass civil unrest, he brought 27 slaves with him. He purchased “Ten Hills Farm” and built up what had been a modest farmhouse into an elegant, three-story Georgian mansion with a finished attic. It was massive for its time.
Can you tell which of these is the front door and which is the back? Neither could I at first until I noticed the hedges (formerly boxwood) lining the front pathway in the bottom shot. Note that neither entrance is particularly “utilitarian;” they’re both intended to display wealth and ostentation. A visitor is meant to be impressed whether he or she is walking down the road in front of the house, or in a carriage pulling up to the back. Also note the scads and scads of windows. The Royalls had a hella views they wanted to enjoy, even out of the side of their house:
So. Every side, plentiful windows and views. Oh yeah – except one:
Fewer windows, and they’re way smaller. Huh. I wonder what they overlooked:
Yep. Slave quarters. In fact, scroll up to the last picture and note the little red door. That would be the entrance the slaves used to enter and exit the Royall House’s kitchen.
So far we’ve gotten a taste of the Royalls; what they projected and what they tried to play down. I’ve also tried to allude to the differing worlds of the pomp and the practicality orbiting this massive estate. One would imagine that for the son of a modest carpenter who had hit it big projecting as much “ceremony” as possible would be a primary goal. He needed (or felt he needed) to ingratiate himself with the Tory bigwigs; we hadn’t yet gotten to the point where being an authentic “good ol’ boy” (a la Bush) was a desirable identity for a wealthy man. The trappings of aristocracy still played well.
What of the differing worlds I mention? We will get to that soon! Until then my dayjob beckons.