Wotten Waven is a village and estate in the Roseau Valley that was named after a place in England. The estate was owned in the 18th century by the Laidlaw family who were prominent English landowners in Dominica from the beginning of British colonization in 1763. In 1827 the estate was 362 acres and was worked by 32 slaves who produced 12,325 lbs of coffee. The coffee blight of the 1840s ruined the estate so a change was made to sugar. In the 1860s it was owned by J.S. Laidlaw, but by the end of the decade it was bought by H.C. Lipset. A decline of sugar industry forced him to shift to growing provisions.
After emancipation and apprenticeship, former estate laborers settled on its lands. Although this was the foundation of the present day village it resulted in difficult land ownership issues in the 20th century. From the 1870s ownership changed to J.M. Stedman and in the early 20th century it was bought by W. H. Chamberlain and later sold to its present owners, members of the Rolle family. This was a period of economic depression when British landowners, whether resident or absentee, were giving up any hope of making any profit in Dominica and were selling out to local merchant families of the so called “mulatto elite” who had the money to buy. The estate includes an area of volcanic fumaroles activity.
These Wotten Waven sulphur springs have attracted visitors for centuries and are a possible future source of geothermal energy.
Source: Lennox Honychurch