As legends go the “The Aristocrat, the Princess and the Rockstar” is pretty good, only this wasn’t a legend, it was true.
Over fifty years ago Lord Glenconner, Colin Tennant, arrived on Mustique and bought the undeveloped island for just £45,000. There were no roads, no jetties and no running water. Lord Glenconner’s initial ambitions were to see his new estate thrive as a cotton plantation, however his plans were not successful and he looked for other ways to develop the island.
Having given his good friend Princess Margaret a plot in 1960 as a wedding present, there was considerable media interest in Mustique as a destination and in 1968 he formed the Mustique Company to develop a private island hideaway
“Tennant indelibly set the tone, gave it its DNA”
Two architects helped shape the island during its formative years; Arne Hasselqvist, a resourceful construction engineer from Sweden, and Oliver Messel, a leading British theatre set designer who had developed a reputation for the flamboyant and original houses he had designed on neighbouring Barbados.
Their first project was to convert the old cotton warehouse into a small hotel, The Cotton House, and to establish a design concept for the island as a whole. The idea was for the island to be split into plots and sold to shareholders who would invest equally in the island. The Mustique Company which was subsequently formed limited the number of development plots and shareholders to a hundred and twenty. This was not only to preserve the island’s character but to retain exclusivity and prevent over-development. Plots were bought by an eclectic group of socialites, rock stars, designers, and artists and private individuals brought together by an overriding desire to be part of something unique.
There is a small museum situated in The Old Sugar Mill adjacent to The Cotton House whose collection of interesting photography and artefacts catalogues the story of Mustique and how ultimately, it was the vision and work of Tennant, Hasselqvist and Messel that created the blueprint that is Mustique today.