Diamond Botanical Gardens, Waterfall & Mineral Baths, Soufrière Estate
The Diamond Falls section of the Soufrière Estate offers three attractions of interest: well conceived gardens, a waterfall beautifully colored by mineral deposits and mineral hot spring baths originally built for the troops of King Louis the XVI of France.The gardens were designed and planted by Mrs. Joan Devaux, daughter of André du Boulay. The gardens were planted among the plantation trees (coconut, cocoa, mahogany, red cedar) with flowers and shrubs from around the tropical world. Within the gardens are many displays of locally grown fruits & vegetables.In 1784, the Governor of St Lucia, the Baron de Laborie sent samples of the mineral water to France for analysis finding the waters to be equivalent to the famous baths of France & Germany. The French King himself financed these baths. These hot mineral spring fed baths were restored by André duBoulay in 1923 and today have been further restored and are open to the public as part of the gardens. For a small fee visitors have access to outside pools or private bath houses.Visitors learn about locally-used fruits like christophine (chayote or vegetable pear), soursop, dasheen (taro) and mamieapple (tropical apricot).Soufrière Estate, established in 1745, is part of the original 2,000 acres of land granted to three Devaux brothers from Normandy by King Louis XIII in 1713 for their services to the crown. It is said that Empress Josephine played here as a child. This estate is one of the very few within the Caribbean where ownership has been retained by the descendants of the original owners.Another attraction on the estate is the old mill and waterwheel, where visiting groups are served a Caribbean buffet.
The Old Mill and Waterwheel, a restored sugar mill with a working waterwheel, now hosts luncheons for tour groups, serving a Caribbean buffet (reservations only). This restoration project was completed in 1996. The Old Mill was built in 1765 and the water wheel was used to crush the sugar cane, produce lime oil and generated the very first electricity to the village of Soufrière at a cost of 25 cents per month per house.As yet the mill is not connected to the gardens, but there are plans to do so.