Rose Hall and the White Witch of Jamaica

Regarded as the most famous of Jamaica’s Great Houses, Rose Hall is popular not only for its impressive architecture, but also because of the stories told about the edifice. Located in Montego Bay, it highlights a stone base, plastered upper storey and panoramic view of the coast. Work on the mansion was started by a wealthy English planter named George Ash in 1750, but construction was completed by John Palmer between 1770 and 1780.

Rose Hall’s distinction stems from the legend surrounding one of the previous owners. Annie Palmer, also known as the White Witch, was said to have been a voodoo practitioner who murdered her three husbands, and numerous lovers and slaves during the time she was mistress of the house. According to stories, she did such things because she was bored. Palmer died in 1831 and the stories about the circumstances of her death vary. The most popular assumption was that she was killed by one of her slaves during the early period of the slave rebellion. The people were afraid of her supposed powers even after her passing, and Palmer’s spirit is allegedly still haunting Rose Hall.

After Palmer’s demise, the Great House changed owners three times before being abandoned. In 1965, it was bought and restored fully to its former grandeur by John and Michele Rollins. Boasting mahogany interiors, crystal chandeliers with velvet-protected chains, antique European furniture and silk wallpaper, Rose Hall is now a historic park open to the public. It offers tours regularly, and has a gift shop and a pub located in the dungeons.

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