Mandeville sprawls across hills, but its historic core is easy to walk. The town centers around Cecil Charlton Park, named for a former mayor. The Mandeville Courthouse stands on the northern tier of this plaza. Built of cut limestone in 1816 in Georgian style, it has an unusual double staircase and is graced with Doric columns.
Adjoining the courthouse is the Rectory -- the oldest structure in town, completed in 1820. Throughout its long history, it was both a tavern and a hotel before reverting to its current status as a private residence. On the south side of the square rises St. Mark's Church, also established in 1820. It's worth a look inside for its timbered clerestory. The graveyard is filled with tombs of British soldiers who died in a yellow-fever epidemic.
Shopping in the town is a pleasure, whether in the old center or in a modern complex such as Grove Court. The market in the center of town teems with life, particularly on weekends when country folk ride into town on their weekly visits. It's open Monday to Saturday 9am to 4pm.
Exploring the Area
The Manchester Country Club, Brumalia Road (tel. 876/962-2403), is Jamaica's oldest golf course. It's been expanded from 9 to 18 holes. Beautiful vistas unfold from 661m (2,201 ft.) above sea level. Greens fees are US$30 with caddy fees running US$15. The course has a clubhouse, and this is also one of the best places in central Jamaica to play tennis.
If you like coffee, visit the Jamaican Standard Products Company (tel. 876/963-4211), 3km (1 3/4 miles) north of Mandeville in Williamsfield. Call Monday to Friday about free tours. The factory, which has a wonderful aroma, exports mainly to Japan; it packages Blue Mountain coffee beans and its own "High Mountain" coffee. The factory also turns out spices and sauces. Call from 8am to 5pm. Tours begin at any time during the day if a guide is available.