Rose Hall great house is very famous in Jamaica. It is a Georgian Mansion with a stone base and a plastered upper storey, high on the hillside, with a fantastic panorama over the coast. Built in the 1770s, Rose Hall was restored in the 1960s to its former splendour, with mahogany floors, interior windows and doorways, panelling and wooden ceilings.
It is decorated with silk wallpaper printed with palms and birds, ornamented with chandeliers and furnished with mostly European antiques. There is a bar downstairs and a restaurant.
Rose Hall is most famous for the story of its mistress Annie Palmer, who came to Jamaica in 1820, and the fanciful legends of underground tunnels, bloodstains and haunting.
A renowned beauty, Annie Palmer was widely feared as a black magician, and she is also supposed to have dispatched three husbands (by poison, by stabbing and then pouring boiling oil into his ears, and by strangling) and innumerable lovers, including slaves, whom she simply killed when she was bored of them.
She was 4ft 11ins high and was murdered in her bed. There is little evidence to support the legend, an amusing version of which was written up by H. G. de Lisser in his “White Witch of Rose Hall”.
Annie Palmer is known as the ‘White Witch” and she was originally from England. However she had lived the better part of her life in Haiti. She lost her parents to a bout of yellow fever and it was her nanny who was a practitioner of voodoo. The nanny trained Annie and introduced her to the art of witchcraft.
Annie then shifted to Jamaica and got married. She married John Palmer in the year 1820. John Palmer owned the Rose Hall Plantation. Annie was not an easy-going woman and the plantation housed around 2000 slaves as well as was a lucrative source of income. However, Annie could not resist wielding her black magic powers to control the people living near her.
Annie lost her husband under mysterious circumstances. She later remarried twice however these two men too did not survive and it is commonly believed that Annie was the main cause of these unnatural deaths. Annie used voodoo to scare the plantation workers and often slept with the male slaves. She later killed them.
When the slave uprising of the 1930 Annie’s lover Takoo killed her in bed, the legend also states that Takoo took this drastic step as Annie was supposedly attracted to Takoo’s son in law. However, as Annie could not win him over she then practiced voodoo on Takoo’s child and later the child succumbed within a week.
Annie also pushed her housekeeper out of her balcony. The poor slave broke her neck and eventually died. There are rumours about Annie’s spirit still lives in the house and she roams around the plantation till date.
Many Séance have been conducted in the premises in order to call on the spirit of Annie. Annie was barely five feet tall in height; however she still plays a vital role in the history of Jamaica’s culture.