Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Jamestown, Saint Helena

Jamestown, Saint Helena

Ask a question about 'Jamestown, Saint Helena'
Start a new discussion about 'Jamestown, Saint Helena'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
Jamestown is the capital
Capital City
Capital City was a television show produced by Euston Films which focused on the lives of investment bankers in London living and working on the corporate trading floor for the fictional international bank Shane-Longman....

 and historic chief settlement of the island of Saint Helena
Saint Helena
Saint Helena , named after St Helena of Constantinople, is an island of volcanic origin in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is part of the British overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha which also includes Ascension Island and the islands of Tristan da Cunha...

, in the South Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

. Located on the island's north-western coast, it is the island's port, with facilities for unloading goods delivered to the island, and the centre of the island's road and communications network. It was founded when English
English people
The English are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English. The English identity is of early mediaeval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Anglecynn. England is now a country of the United Kingdom, and the majority of English people in England are British Citizens...

 colonists settled on the island in 1659; St Helena is the second-oldest remaining British territory, after Bermuda
Bermuda is a British overseas territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. Located off the east coast of the United States, its nearest landmass is Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, about to the west-northwest. It is about south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and northeast of Miami, Florida...


History and character

Jamestown was founded in 1659 by the English
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

 East India Company
East India Company
The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

 and named after James, Duke of York, the future King James II
James II of England
James II & VII was King of England and King of Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII, from 6 February 1685. He was the last Catholic monarch to reign over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland...

 of England. A fort, originally named the Castle of St John, was completed within a month and further houses were built further up the valley. With the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, the fort was renamed James Fort, the town Jamestown and the valley James Valley. Between January and May 1673 the Dutch
Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands , the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately...

 East India Company forcibly took the island, before English reinforcements restored English East India Company control. Since then the town has been continuously inhabited and under English/British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...


The town is built on igneous rock in a small enclave, sandwiched between steep cliffs (that form James Valley) that are unsuitable for building. The town is therefore rather long, thin and densely populated, with tightly knit, long and winding streets. Shrubs and trees decorate some of the street corners. The surrounding terrain is rough and steep, and rockfalls are an occurrence, sometimes damaging buildings. The town is commonly divided into Lower and Upper parts, depending on the distance up James Valley.

The town has some examples of British
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 Georgian-era colonial
Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

 and is proposed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many buildings are built out of local volcanic rock. St James' church
St James, Jamestown
Saint James' Church is a church on the island of Saint Helena and is part of the Anglican Diocese of Saint Helena. It is situated in the capital Jamestown and is the oldest Anglican Church in the southern hemisphere; the present building was put up in 1774....

 dates from 1774 and is the oldest Anglican church in the Southern Hemisphere. Two other notable churches in the town are the (Anglican) St John's and the (Catholic) Sacred Heart, both in the Upper part. Jamestown has more than half of the island's listed buildings, a designation for buildings of historic or architectural merit. Another of the town's prominent features is Jacob's Ladder
Saint Helena Railway Company
In 1829, the Saint Helena Railway Company built an inclined-plane cableway on Saint Helena. It was intended to lift supplies from the port and capital of Jamestown up to Ladder Hill Fort. It was rebuilt as a long, steep staircase, by the Royal Engineers in 1871 now known as Jacob’s Ladder...

, a staircase of 699 steps, built in 1829 to connect Jamestown to the former fort on Ladder Hill. The ladder is very popular with tourists, is lit at night and a timed run takes place there every year, with people coming from all over the world to take part.

Being the island's only port (and with the proposed airport
Saint Helena airport
Saint Helena Airport is a proposed airport that will be constructed in the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, an island in the South Atlantic Ocean. From the 1960s there was an idea to build an airport on the St Helena Island. In 1999 this was taken up by the island government...

 yet to be built) the town is the only entrance to the island to visitors, and can be especially busy with tourists when a cruise ship
Cruise ship
A cruise ship or cruise liner is a passenger ship used for pleasure voyages, where the voyage itself and the ship's amenities are part of the experience, as well as the different destinations along the way...

 stops just off the coast. The Museum of Saint Helena is situated in Jamestown, one of two museums on the island (the other being Longwood House
Longwood House
Longwood House was the residence of Napoleon I during his exile on the island of Saint Helena, from 10 December 1815 until his death on 5 May 1821. It is situated on a windswept plain some from Jamestown. Formerly the summer residence of the Lieutenant Governor, it was converted for the use of...

). Near to Jamestown is the impressive (but currently dilapidated) High Knoll Fort
High Knoll Fort
High Knoll Fort is a redoubt-style fort of the English East India Company on Saint Helena, an island and British overseas territory in the South Atlantic Ocean...

 and further inland are the tourist attractions based on Napoleon's
Napoleon I
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

 exile on the island, namely Longwood House, the Briars and his tomb
A tomb is a repository for the remains of the dead. It is generally any structurally enclosed interment space or burial chamber, of varying sizes...



In 2008 it had a population of 714, compared to a population of 884 in 1998. The town's population has been shrinking, in line with the shrinking island population as a whole, but also as a result of the growth of Jamestown's "suburb", Half Tree Hollow
Half Tree Hollow
Half Tree Hollow is the "suburb" of Jamestown, Saint Helena, a British island in the South Atlantic. The village is built at the top of Jacob's Ladder, a hillside stairway connecting it with Jamestown...

. The town is no longer the largest settlement on the island — both Half Tree Hollow and Saint Paul's
Saint Paul's, Saint Helena
St. Paul's is a dispersed area of settlement in the central part of the island of Saint Helena, and is a district of the island. In 2008 the district had a population of 795, compared to a population of 908 in 1998...

 are slightly more populous.

Formal status

Jamestown is formally a city, a status granted by Queen Victoria in 1859, and its full name is the "City of James Town". It is also one of the 8 districts (administrative divisions) of the island and stretches north along the coast including James Bay, Rupert's Bay and Banks Valley Bay, as well as slightly inland along James Valley. The small settlement of Haytown lies in Rupert's Valley; this was a planned new town (though it did not take off as hoped) established by Governor Hay in the early 1860s.

Jamestown is the capital
Capital City
Capital City was a television show produced by Euston Films which focused on the lives of investment bankers in London living and working on the corporate trading floor for the fictional international bank Shane-Longman....

 of both the island of Saint Helena and the British overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. Despite it being the island's long-standing capital, Plantation House
Plantation House (Saint Helena)
Plantation House is the official residence of the Governor of Saint Helena. It is located 2 miles to the south of the capital, Jamestown, on the island of Saint Helena.-History:...

 (the Governor's official residence; built 1792) and St Paul's Cathedral
Saint Paul's Cathedral (Saint Helena)
Saint Paul's Cathedral is a cathedral church on the island of Saint Helena and is part of the Anglican Diocese of Saint Helena. It is located approximately 2 miles south of Jamestown in the district of St Paul's....

 (Anglican; built 1851) are both approximately 2 miles to the south, in St Paul's. However the main administrative buildings of the public bodies of the island are situated in Jamestown, including at The Castle
The Castle (Saint Helena)
The Castle is the main government buildings on the island of Saint Helena, located in the historic centre of the capital Jamestown, close to James Bay and the old town gate. The oldest parts of the complex date to 1710 but it was largely reconstructed in the 1860s because of termite damage...

. An explanation for the location of the Governor's official residence is the less arid climate and terrain found further inland, compared to in James Valley.


Jamestown features an arid climate with essentially consistent temperatures throughout the year. Despite the fact that the town has an arid climate, its temperatures are moderated by the adjacent ocean. As a result, it seldom gets extremely hot in Jamestown. The temperature in the Jamestown area is some 5 degrees warmer than the rest of the island, because of the difference in altitude. The higher parts of the island are also wetter than the town, which lies on the drier coast and in a sheltered location. The surrounding waters can be quite rough at times, and there is a sea wall to protect the settlement.

See also

External links