The beach at Southlands. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
The beach at Southlands. *Photo by Kageaki Smith

A rich history and a fairy tale cloak of mystery drip from the leaves and branches in Southlands.

The 37 acres of pristine woodland and breathtaking coastline boasts some of Bermuda’s best-kept secrets.

And the estate is home to the island’s rarest and most spectacular species from Banyan grove to Cannonball trees.

The property’s origins lie back in 1745 when the main hilltop house, which still stands today, was built by the Dunscombe family.

They quarried the limestone-rich land until around 1880.

The estate then remained vacant for some years because the quarries made it “undesirable” to prospective purchasers. But in the early 1900s the property was bought by Canadian businessman James Morgan and his family.

Mr Morgan extended the main house, which looks over South Shore, and added a handful of imaginatively named cottages around the property including The Mistresses’ Cottage and Morning Glory.

In its pomp nine separate properties made up Southlands while more than 70 peacocks roamed the lush estate. The Montreal-born Morgan also played a major role in the development of Warwick Academy before he passed away in 1932.

He was buried on the Southlands property with his wife Anne in a mausoleum deep in the woodland – which is still there now.

But the bodies had to be returned to Montreal after thieves repeatedly broke into the tomb in a bid to raid the couple’s possessions that were buried with them. The estate was owned by Brigadier Dunbar Maconochie between 1947 and 1972.

And the beachfront section of the property was even used by armed forces in the Second World War to practice firing anti-aircraft ammunition into the sea.

It then changed hands again and became the property of Willowbank until in 2003 Bermudian businessmen Craig Christensen, Brian Duperreault and Nelson Hunt bought it.

Today eight properties remain on the estate – but only four are still occupied.

The main house has fallen into disrepair but the original limestone and cedar as well as the remnants of the old slave quarters still remain.

Southlands is home to 13 species of tree found nowhere else on the island as well as the biggest Banyan grove in Bermuda — that is remarkably made up of just three trees.

It boasts nine gardens and six ponds — and the coral centre-pieces as well as the stone-walled edges to the ponds still remain intact, just.

Tangerine, mango, paw-paw and black ebony trees grow in this wilderness of exotic plants and trees.

And the sound of the wind whistling through the wispy Casuarina trees at night make it an eerie place to live. Craig Christensen’s daughter, Michelle, has lived on the Southlands property for nine years.

She told the Bermuda Sun: “There is nowhere like Southlands in Bermuda. It’s the only wooded area where you feel totally secluded. You hardly see anyone and it is a beautiful place to live. It certainly can be very spooky at night. A lot of people have told me that it is haunted, but I would not say it was haunted by anything bad.

“If anything this place has good history and good memories surrounding it.”