Mustique is a small private island in the West Indies more or less in the centre of the map above. The island is part of the country of St Vincent and the Grenadines. The island covers one thousand, four hundred acres. Measures three miles by one and a half miles and has several coral reefs. The land fauna includes tortoises, herons and many other species. The year-round population is about 500 mostly living in the villages of Lovell, Britannia Bay and Dover. Basil's Bar is in the 1000 Places book, we missed a trip on the Friendship Rose last year due to a storm and we needed to give each other a Christmas treat so here we are to explore.




Early history: The first settlers on the island were Arawak Indians. The history of the island of Mustique, and of the Grenadines in general, dates back to the 15th century, when Spanish sailors first sighted this more or less linear group of small rocky islands and named them 'Los Pájaros' or 'the birds', because they resembled a small flock of birds scattered across the sea in flight. During the 17th century the islands were renamed the Grenadines by pirates, who used the sheltered bays to hide their ships and treasure. The islands were later utilized by European planters to grow sugar cane from 1740. This lucrative industry lasted until the nineteenth century, when the extraction of sugar from European-grown sugar beet dramatically lessened the worldwide demand for tropical sugar. Mustique's sugar plantations were abandoned and eventually swallowed up by scrub, leaving remnants such as the sugar mill at 'Endeavor' and its 'Cotton House.'



The pretty Gingerbread houses so typical of the islands residences




Recent history: Mustique was purchased in 1958 by Lord Glenconner, Colin Tennant, 3rd Baron Glenconner, under whose guidance the island began to be developed. In 1960, Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon accepted a ten acre plot of land as a wedding present, she built a beautiful residence called Les Jolies Eaux. In 1989 Mustique Island was transformed from a family estate into a private limited company with the homeowners as shareholders. In 1971, the SS Antilles struck a reef not far off of the island, and sank. The island of Mustique is owned by the Mustique Company, which in turn is owned by the island's home owners. The island has approximately 100 private villas, many of which are rented out through the Mustique Company. In addition there is one hotel called the Cotton House, also owned by the Mustique Company, and one privately-owned four bedroom hotel called Firefly, which is owned by Stan and Liz Clayton.



Residents and guests: Mustique has, over the years, attracted a number of celebrities: Bill Gates, Amy Winehouse, Noel Gallagher, Princess Margaret, Mick Jagger, Bryan Adams, Shania Twain, Kate Moss, David Duchovny, Tea Leoni, David Bowie, Felix Dennis, Tommy Hilfiger, Hugh Grant, Kate Middleton, Prince William, Pierce Brosnan, Jeremy Clarkson and Nigella Lawson. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip have made private visits to Mustique in 1966, 1977, and 1985. Oh and Big Bear on the 28th of December 2010.



Stamps: The colourful stamps from these small islands seem to be primarily intended for the philatelic market. There were sixteen values in the Saint Vincent Birds definitive set issued on the 12th of January 1970. The overprint on the selvedge (sheet or pane margins of perforated stamps) is known to exist on the lowest sixteen values in the set. This is probably a private overprint. In 1974 this same definitive design was used for officially issued stamps of the "Grenadines of Grenada" which include Mustique. indicates that Mustique became a "stamp issuing entity" in 1976. According to Rossiter and Flower, stamps issued in 1984 for Bequia and Union Islands were not justified by the volume of mail from the islands.
The fish market along the beach from Basil's
                          A VERY PRETTY ISLAND AFTER A GREAT SAIL