THE Rose Hall Great House was built for John Palmer, the Custos of St Thomas for 30,000 pounds by George Ash in the mid-19th Century. At the time, this 2,640-hectare plantation also had over 2,000 slaves.
Today, the great house is known for the many stories about former owner Annie Palmer or as most people know her, the White Witch of Rose Hall. Stories have been told about her cruelty towards her slaves and the premises now stands as a very popular attraction.
Approximately 10km from Montego Bay, St James, the great house was bought in 1977 by former Miss USA Michele Rollins and husband John Rollins. It has since been restored to its 1960’s glory with mahogany floors, interior windows and doorways, panelling and wooden ceilings. It was quite expensive to refurbish, but was conceptualised into a tour and museum that showcased the history of the slaves along with the original fittings and antique splendor.
The first two levels of the house is cut from stone, while the third and uppermost level are made from stucco. On the second level there is a cut-stone symmetrical grand staircase which leads to a veranda on the seaward side of the building. With a Georgian design to be appreciated, the building also has a hip roof, quoins, keystone and sash windows.
This outstanding building overlooks the Caribbean Sea, on the hills of the former Rose Hall Sugar Estate. It’s considered to be a visually impressive house and one of the most famous of the great houses in Jamaica.
Visitors can enjoy a guided tour of the Great House as well as a visit to the tomb of Annie Palmer. The stories told have been the subject of many novels and dramatic plays over the years. The premises also includes several gift shops.