Spying Sedan Porches in St. George’s, Grenada

by David Webber, guest blogger

(See David’s photo website at www.davidwebberphotography.com)

Sedan chairAttempting to retain one’s dignity and cleanliness whilst walking through congested public thoroughfares in the days of open drains and night soil thrown from first floor windows was a major problem for the 17th to19th century gentry. Consequently, the opportunity to be carried in relative comfort in a fully enclosed sedan chair (after Sedan in Northern France) was something of a godsend and quickly became popular with those who could afford the service.

The worldwide concept of a VIP being carried in a litter slung between two animals, often human, is as old as the hills. The sedan brought the facility to a section of the public who were possibly not able to afford a private carriage or litter but still needed an efficient, speedy facility to get them to their destination usually within the same conurbation. Consequently, sedan chairs and their two-man teams could be hired from strategically placed ranks, day and night. Sedan carriers inserted long, springy wooden poles into metal brackets on either side of the chair.which could be repositioned to allow the chair to remain level when negotiating inclines. Some had adjustable roofs to allow for the passenger’s extravagent coiffeur.

However, entry and exit from the chair was normally through a door in the front of the sedan which left plenty of opportunity for coiffure and dress to be demolished before being presented to your hosts.

Some buildings allowed the sedans to enter public rooms before the passenger decamped but few private houses had this facility. Hence the introduction of sedan porches to enable the passenger to alight protected from the elements.

It was not too long before British colonies adopted the sedan chair and porches. Grenada was no exception and to this day one can still see these now rare porches on a few properties in Church Street in St Georges. The entry and exit arches are mostly filled in now but their positions are still clearly visible.

Sedan Porch, St. Georges, GrenadaSedan porch, St. Georges, GrenadaSedan porch, St. Georges, Grenada

Questions or Suggestions?