Soufriere Estate is one of the oldest and best-preserved estates on St. Lucia and was originally part of the 2000 acres of land granted to the Devaux family by King Louis XIV of France in 1713, in recognition of their service to ‘Crown and Country’.
In 1740 the three Devaux brothers came to St. Lucia to claim the land which at that time included the present site of Soufriere Town, as well as the Sulphur Springs.
This historical estate has been transformed from a working plantation that once produced limes, copra and cocoa, into one of the major heritage sites in the region, as well as a viable and spectacular tourist attraction that includes the Botanical Gardens, Waterfall, Mineral Baths, Nature Trail, Old Mill Restaurant and the historic Soufriere Estate House.
About Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens
The Diamond Botanical Gardens sit in a natural gorge that begins at the world’s only drive through volcano and bubbling sulphur springs. The sulphur springs are weak spots in the crust of an enormous collapsed crater, the result of a volcanic upheaval that took place some 40,000 years ago.
Natural minerals found in the area include, Kaolinite and Quartz and smaller quantities of Gypsum, Alunite, Pyrite and Geotite.
In the beginning
In 1713, three Devaux brothers were granted 2000 acres of land by King Louis XIV for services to Crown & Country. This area covered from from Anse Mamin to and as far back as.
The Diamond Botanical Gardens sit on the original site of the spring baths which were built in 1784. These baths were built so that the troops of King Louis XVI of France could take advantage of the waters therapeutic powers.
The Rapeutic Powers
In 1784, the Baron de Laborie, who was at the time Governor of St. Lucia, sent samples of the mineral water to Paris to be analyzed by the “Medicine du Roi”. The waters from the Diamond Springs were found to have the same properties as the famous Aix-les-Bains in France and Aix-la-Chapelle or Aachen in Germany.
Bathing in these therapeutic waters have always been recommended for persons who suffer from chronic rheumatism, respiratory complaints or ulcers, an opinion supported by John Davy in circa 1850, M.D., the Inspector General of military hospitals in the West Indies.
Dr. Davy did a more detailed analysis in 1854 elaborating on the mineral content of these “healing” waters.
The King Restores the Baths
King Louis XVI was impressed by Medecin de Rois analysis of the waters. He allocated the necessary funds to have a stone building containing 12 stone baths erected. The baths were put to good use for several years, but during the Brigands war circa 1794- 1798 that followed on the heels of the French Revolution, the bath house, like so many other buildings, was destroyed. The baths stayed in a state of ruin until André du Boulay, the last previous owner of Diamond Estate, restored them for his private use. Later with further restoration and the addition of modern bathroom facilities, these baths were then made available to the public.
Diamond Botanical Gardens is now a thriving tourism site, six acres of planted gardens, including Diamond Falls. The Diamond River comes straight from the Sulphur Springs, black from volcanic mud and spilling over the rock face, staining the stone wall with the many colours left behind by the minerals finally dropping into the calm pond below. In 1983, Mrs. Joan Devaux, daughter of Mr. André du Boulay took over the management of the Estate. Throughout the years Mrs. Devaux has continued the development and restoration of this beautiful estate.
Located five minutes from the town square in Soufriere we are easily found whether you are coming from Castries, Vieux Fort, the waterfront of Soufriere or anywhere in between. Follow these simple directions and we will see you there!
From Castries: Take the west coast highway south to Soufriere. You will cross a single lane bridge as you come into town, stay on this street until you reach the town square (in the center of town). In front of the green & white “ginger bread” storefront turn left. Stay on this street passing the Catholic Church on your left. Continue out of town, passing Soufriere Estate’s black gates. You will begin seeing signs at this point. Turn right at the first road beyond the gates and follow this road directly to the parking area of the site.
From Vieux Fort: Take the west coast road to Soufriere. You will come down a steep hill as you come into Soufriere. At the bottom of the hill you will come to the town square and Catholic church. Turn right and stay on this road, passing Soufriere Estate’s black gates. You will begin seeing signs at this point. Turn right at the first road beyond the gates and follow this road directly to the parking are of the site.
From the waterfront of Soufriere: Come one block into town to the town square, turn left in front of the green & white “ginger bread” storefront. Continue, passing the Catholic Church on your left as you leave town. Pass the Soufriere Estate’s black gates turning right at the first road (you will see signs) and follow this road to the parking area of the site.