Mission Ruins of Venn's Town – Seychelles - Atlas Obscura

Mission Ruins of Venn's Town

The remains of a 19th-century school and living quarters are perched atop a mountain surrounded by a thick tropical forest. 

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Deep in the Morne Seychellois National Park, perched on a mountaintop are the ruins of a mission named after Henry Venn, an Anglican missionary. 

Venn’s Town was a mission set up in 1876, and it consisted of a boarding school, dormitories, a laundry building, kitchens, washrooms, and dwellings for laborers, teachers, and the school principal. In order to sustain its operations, the mission cultivated vanilla, coffee, and cocoa among other produce over a large swath of land (approximately 50 acres).

In the late 1800s, Seychelles became a haven for liberated enslaved people. Although the Emancipation Act abolished slavery in the British-controlled Seychelles in 1835, slave-trading in the area persisted. To curb the practice, the Royal Navy patrolled the East African Coast, intercepted slave-trading ships, and brought those they rescued to Seychelles. There, the adults ended up working in the local plantations as low-paid laborers. Meanwhile, Venn’s Town mission took in their children and provided them with some basic education between 1876 and 1889. This was a crucial point in the history of Seychelles, as these families and their descendants would forever change the Creole Seychellois identity that survives to this day. 

Today, the foundations and walls of five buildings remain over an area of 540 square meters (5,800 square feet). “The Laundry” stands out from the other buildings due to the clear-cut knee-high walls outlining 19 tiny chambers with evidence of rudimentary plumbing.  Thick vegetation from the forest covering the steep slopes of the mountain encroaches on the ruins, and a modern viewpoint platform offers sweeping views of the forest sloping down toward the coastal areas. None other than Queen Elizabeth II drank tea on this very same platform in 1972. 

Many types of plants and animals can only be found here, as well, ranging from the very small Sooglosus frog species to the Seychelles scops owl (Otus insularis).

Know Before You Go

A sign points at a narrow, steep road that branches off San Saucis Road and reaches the ruins.