Mustique - History & Culture
Mustique is a 1,400 acre island. It was first inhabited by Amerindians from South America. Sometime in the 1740s European planters arrived in Mustique and started to produce sugar using enslaved Africans as their main source of labour. When sugar beet replaced sugar cane in the West Indies as the main source of sugar Mustique’s sugar cane based economy collapsed. The British re-divided Mustique into 2 plantations in 1835 and then these 2 estates were united in 1865 by the Hazell family of St Vincent. The Hazell family cultivated cotton, peas and corn until 1958. In 1958 Mustique was purchased by the Honourable Colin Tenant of England. Mr. Tenant set about developing the island and its reputation as an idyllic getaway began to spread.
In 1960 Mr. Tenant gave Princess Margaret a 10 acre plot on Mustique as a wedding gift. This brought immense publicity to the island as Princess Margaret and her social circle revelled in the pristine splendour of Mustique. In 1968 The Mustique Company was formed and in agreement with the government it undertook the mantle of tourism development on the island with a caveat that no more than 140 private homes be built on the island. In 1969 The Mustique Airport was opened and this was followed by significant ancillary development in tourism and hospitality, and the medical and social sectors including public education. Today Mustique is owned and managed by the Mustique Company.
From Wednesday night Barbecue parties to Happy Hour Thursdays to Sunset Jazz Sundays to Mustique Blues Festival late to early February, Basil’s Bar is the social and cultural epicentre of Mustique. Jutting out to sea on beautiful Britannia Bay on the shoreline of Lovell, the island’s lone village, Basil’s bar is world renowned for its tropical island spunk. Like all of the Grenadine islands, fishing is a core cultural component and there is a small community of fishermen at Lovell who are more than willing to share their creole recipes and stories of the home they have shared with the likes of Mick Jagger, David Bowie and Princess Margaret. Seasons 3 and 4 of Netflix’s The Crown feature Princess Margaret’s excursions to Mustique and this has propelled Mustique even further as a subject of pop culture.