While Codrington College is a well-known landmark in Barbados, few people are familiar with its Founder, Christopher Codrington. Born in Barbados and educated at Oxford, Codrington was considered ‘a flamboyant man of taste and sensibility’. He was also an accomplished soldier, philosopher and Governor-General of the Leeward Islands, who socialised with the most powerful people of the day in England and Europe.
After Christopher Codrington’s death in 1710, part of his will bequeathed his Barbadian Estates to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG), which led to the foundation of The Lodge School and subsequently Codrington College in 1745. With his wealth having been built upon profits from a brutal period of African enslavement in the West Indies, his bequest was quite revolutionary. Faced with initial opposition from the planters, the SPG found it difficult to carry out the terms of Codrington’s unusual will. Subsequent trustees faced similar challenges, compounded by hurricanes, fires, debt and periods of social and political upheaval. Despite this volatile past, these twin places of learning, The Lodge School and Codrington College, have enjoyed outstanding success over two challenging centuries.
This 275th anniversary, while celebrating the accomplishments of the past, will seek to plan novel directions for the future, inspired by Codrington’s intellectual dynamism. Events are planned throughout the year, including the publication of a book by Dr. Lennox Honeychurch.
A Bequest to the Islands: Christopher Codrington and his Legacy
Of all the colourful characters to have emerged from the kaleidoscope of Caribbean history, Christopher Codrington is among the most extraordinary. This book explores the multifaceted Barbadian Creole from his childhood on the island to the spired colleges of Oxford University. As poet and rakish youth, reveling in the glittering social life of 17th century London, he drifts into court circles, befriending King William III, soldiering in Europe and carousing in Paris. Returning to the Caribbean as planter and colonial governor, he is defeated in battle and debilitated by malaria. This, and depression, hastens him to an early death at 42. His legacy of a college and school in Barbados and a library at Oxford survive today, as does heated debate on his controversial life and bequests supported by the profits of slavery. Honychurch’s book brings a novel perspective to this fascinating life.
Due for release in May 2020