English Harbour © Prayitno
English Harbour, Antigua's graceful and evocative historic district, is focused on the 15 square miles (39 sq km) of Nelson's Dockyard National Park. Developed as a base for the British Navy in the great age of sail, the harbour served as the headquarters of the fleet of the Leeward Islands during the turbulent years of the late 18th century. Although the dockyard was greatly expanded at that time by Horatio Nelson, it was gradually abandoned in the 19th century and was closed in 1889. Today Nelson's Dockyard has been completely restored, and it is now the only Georgian dockyard in the world.
Almost all of the park's other sites of interest overlook the harbour. The closest of these is Clarence House, a residence built for the future King William IV (1765-1837) when he served under Nelson as captain of the HMS Pegasus. Further above the harbour, at Shirley Heights, are the partially restored fortifications of the harbour's colonial observation post; the view from Shirley Heights extends out over the harbour and far across the Caribbean to Montserrat and Guadeloupe. On Sunday afternoons the vista is enhanced by a barbeque and live music at the bar. Shirley Heights can be reached via Lookout Trail, a nature walk that rises from the harbour through a forest of trees. Buses run between St John's and Nelson's Dockyard.