Heritage and Historical Sites


York is a distinctly Krio village with a rich history though the village also comprises of various other tribes. Prior to the arrival of the liberated slaves, the Sherbro were settled in the area and the village as called Momimi. York village is over 200 years old, predominantly Christian with old churches and beautiful layout and fauna. York is also the rural district headquarters for the region.

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St John's Maroon Church

St John's Maroon ChurchThis church was built by the Maroons who arrived in the colony in 1800 as black returnees from Jamaica who were reputed to be accomplished stone masons. It is thought they converted to Christianity through the influence of the Nova Scotians who were already in the Colony. The church erected in 1822, was seen as a determination of the converts to hold on to their new found faith. A small group, the church was nonetheless at the centre for religious and social activities for the people of Maroon Town – which was around the area from Walpole Street to Kingtom. The Maroon Church is among the oldest churches in Sierra Leone. It stands between current day Liverpool Street and Percival Street.

The Wharf Steps and Old Guard House

Old Wharf stepsThese flights of stone steps are one of the stone architecture erected during the governorship of Governor Charles Macarthy. They lead down from Wallace Johnson Street and were completed in 1818. They are often wrongly referred to as the “Portuguese Steps”. The Guard House at the top of the steps was built in 1819. The Steps and Guard House are in urgent need of refurbishment.

St George's Cathedral

St. George's CathedralAs the drive to make the Sierra Leone Colony a Christian community continued, Governor Maxwell sent a memo to the Secretary of State for the colonies requesting the construction of a church to serve as a place of worship for the citizens. The foundation was laid in 1817 by Governor MacCarthy and construction was complete 11 years later well over budget and time.

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St Charles' Church, Regent

St Charles Church, RegentAs the Liberated African Villages grew, it was decided that structures had to be established to cater for the spiritual and educational welfare of the emerging communities. The government agreed to finance the construction of schools and churches. In 1816, the government financed the building of a stone church the Regent, one of the Liberated African Villages. St. Charles, named after Charles MacCarthy, was the first stone church to be built in West Africa.

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The Gateway to the Old King's Yard

The The Gateway to the Old King's YardAfter the Abolition Act had come into effect and Sierra Leone had become a British Colony, the Navy were mostly involved in trying to intercept the still on-going Slave Traffic.  One of the most effective vessels charged with this responsibility was ironically a former slave vessel itself, the Black Joke, formerly called the Henriquita.

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The Martello Tower

Martello TowerDue to frequent attacks on Freetown in the 19th century by the Temne under the leadership of King Tom, the government became nervy about future attacks on the colony. The governor of the day instructed that a Martello Tower be built on the top of Tower Hill as a defence mechanism. Similar structures were a defence mechanism of the period it has counterparts along the south coast of England.

This huge round tower complete with guns and armoury was finished in 1805 starting a long association with Tower Hill and the military. However, it is reported that it was never used in battle and in a couple of decades it was in ruins. A water tank was built inside the base and served as part of the earliest water system supplying pipe born water to the city around 1870. This tower is in need of refurbishment and is located next to the houses of parliament. A trip up the hill confirms why this would be a strategic position for the military with some of the most magnificent views of Freetown on offer.

Three Old City Boundary Guns

Probably from a condemned slave ship, the Three Old Boundary Cannons were half buried in the ground to mark the boundaries of old Freetown. Vertically positioned with their muzzles pointing upwards they were put in this position to avoid people sitting on them.

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The Cotton Tree

The Cotton Tree in the centre of FreetownThis majestic tree stands in the centre of the oldest part in Freetown and is the most visible landmark in the city. Though its exact age is unknown it has undisputedly stood here for over 200 years. It is believed by some to have been the resting place for the Black Poor when the arrived in Sierra Leone in 1787. They apparently rested and prayed underneath the shade of the tree.

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National Railway Museum

Railway MusuemThe Sierra Leone National Railway Museum was established by Col. Steve Davies MBE, Deputy Commander of the International Military Advisory Training Team (IMATT) in Sierra Leone, working in his spare time with a team of fifteen young unemployed Sierra Leoneans. 

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Old Fourah Bay College

The Fourah Bay CollegeOld Fourah Bay College is probably Freetown's most famous institution , it is the oldest university in West Africa. In it's former splendor, Sierra Leone became known as the "Athens of West Africa" as scholars from all over Africa would travel to Sierra Leone to further their education. Samuel Adjai Crowther, the college’s first student, later becomes the first home-grown Bishop of West Africa.

Bunce Island

Remnants of Bunce Island CastleBunce Island was the largest British slave castle on the Rice Coast of West Africa. Founded around 1670, it exported tens of thousands of African captives to North America and the West Indies until the British Parliament finally closed it down in 1808. During its long and tragic history, Bunce Island was operated by four London-based companies: the Gambia Adventurers; the Royal African Company of England (which had official recognition from the British Crown); and the private firms of Grant, Oswald & Company and John & Alexander Anderson.

During the 1750s Richard Oswald, Bunce Island’s principal owner, forged a strong business and personal relationship with Henry Laurens, one of the richest rice planters and slave dealers in the Colony of South Carolina. Rice planters in coastal South Carolina and Georgia were willing to pay high prices for people brought from the Rice Coast of West Africa where farmers had been growing rice for hundreds of years and were experts at its cultivation.

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