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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Time to get Jammin' on the Hellish History of Jamaica's Haunted Rose Hall, let's visit!


    Jamaica is an amazing, culturally rich, beautiful place.  The beaches are to die for, the history is flavorful and long.  It is home for many and a great vacation spot, so I've heard.  In fact,  I'm going with my husband late October.  I can't wait!  The Rose Hall House near Montego Bay, Jamaica is the first place on my, "Haunted Places I want to visit, out of the United States" list.   It has a twisted and dark past, with "remnants" remaining around even today. My husband and I are visiting Negril and plan on trying to go for a night tour at Rose Hall, in hopes of supernatural encounters.  If you are looking for something scary and visiting Jamaica, check out Rose Hall. I can't wait!  Of course, I will also enjoy lounging in the sun and snorkeling in the underground caverns. Their water is a lot prettier than our slightly brownish, blueish water in Virginia Beach!

Montego Bay

Swimmin' with the fishes, Argh!

      The story of Rose Hall varies according to different sources, but I believe that this is as close as possible to the "real" story. I'm sure things have changed over time and different elements in the story have changed. But that happens with any story, and with history in general, like Columbus discovering America for instance. He even has a special day to mark the occasion, where he got lost and found America, which was already discovered and inhabited by Native Americans.  Good job Columbus. Duh. Anyway, sorry to deviate from the story. I just had to prove a point. 

     Rose Hall was a  visually impressive Georgian Mansion and the most famous great house in Jamaica. It sits high on a grassy hillside, with a gorgeous panorama view of the coast.  This Mansion is the subject of at least a dozen novels, blogs, videos and paranormal investigations. Yes, my favorite, "Ghost Adventures" have visited it and recorded EVP's and had ghostly experiences. Now, of course, all of the fame has led to a ton of visitors hoping to have a creepy experience there.

Ghost Adventures at Rose Hall
     The house originally had 365 windows ( I would hate to have to clean them!), 52 doors, and 12 bedrooms.  It was affectionately called the Calendar House.  Rose Hall was built from 1778 to 1778 by John Palmer, a wealthy British planter.  At it's peak, it was a 6,521 acre sugar plantation with more than 2,000 slaves. I understand that owning a ton of slaves was a status symbol back then, but it's sad to me. 2,000 tortured and abused people. Not things, not slaves, people, born just like us. They had it worse than some. Hard times for them were soon to come. 

     Annie Palmer, married John Palmer's grand nephew, John Rose Palmer (bad middle name for a guy), who was the benefactor of the estate and finances when John Palmer(the builder), who died in 1818. died. Annie was no fool, she knew this. She was born Annie Mae Paterson in France. Some say England. More say France. I can compromise and call it Frengland if that is better. Anyway, her and her family moved to Haiti when she was young. They both died of yellow fever when she was 10 years old.  Her Haitian nanny adopted her and raised her as her own.  The nanny was said to be a voodoo priestess who educated Annie in the art of the occult.  When the nanny died, Annie who was 18years old, 4'11", eye catching, and a spitfire, came to Jamaica to husband hunt. She had luck, John Rose Palmer was her 1st husband.

      Back then, a woman's route to wealth and power was usually through marriage, and Annie did just that.  She became the wife of the powerful, John Rose Palmer, who then owned Rose Hall after his grand uncle passed away. It is said that Annie missed the lights of Paris and missed her Haitian adoptive "mother." Sadness would turn to bitterness, spite, hate, craziness and the need for power.  It wasn't a happy marriage, and her husband was demanding.  Perhaps that is what set Annie off, perhaps the evil was already in her and it finally was released, and grew, like a hungry fire.  Months after their marriage, her husband found out that she was being unfaithful with a slave lover, and he didn't approve. He beat Annie with a riding whip.  Then "mysteriously" John Palmer died that night.  Rumors spread that Annie had murdered him.  They had no real way of knowing that or if so, exactly how Annie did it. But many suspected she put poison in his coffee.  With husband number one buried, Annie Palmer began her reign of terror at Rose Hall. She would take slaves as lovers for a few days or even a week, get bored with them and kill them. Psychotic nymphomaniac much?  

Annie's much used bed

The infamous bedroom of Annie, and her many lovers

     Slaves began to call Annie the "Obech (voodoo) woman," "the daughter of the devil," the "Infamous Annie," and the "White Witch of Rose Hall," which seems to have caught on the most.  She was feared by slaves and used her knowledge of the dark arts to control and scare them. It gave her power over them. Many of the slaves practiced voodoo in order to win favor with the mistress and live longer, in fear.  

She went a little beyond just a simple voodoo doll

     She ruled mercilessly with an iron fist, to say the least.  She even had awful looking bear type traps places all around the property perimeter to prevent slaves from escaping. Any perceived defiance or insolence would lead to a public whipping, torture in the dungeon, or death.  It is said that if she suspected her house servant who brought her meals out, had tasted it, she would have them beheaded. 

One of the horrible "slave traps" 

     She started each day by standing on the small balcony from her room in the rear of the building, and issuing orders of the day to the slaves assembled in the yard.  Her orders often included punishments and executions. She even sacrificed babies for her voodoo rituals, the small bones supposedly held special black magic powers.  She also killed her next two husbands.  I guess that she wasn't into committed relationships. Both husbands had shared the opinion with her first husband, about extramarital affairs with slaves.  So they both died as well. No one knows how many Annie had murdered, between the slaves, babies and her 3 husbands. She was evil personified it seemed. 

Stairs to dungeon
       Finally, Ms. Palmer was murdered in her bed in 1831.  There are many theories. Some say it was a former slave lover who had no intention of dying and wanted revenge.  Some say that several slaves did it to stop her reign of terror. Another story is that a former slave who was free at the time, Takoo, was seeking vengeance for a curse that Annie-in a fit of rage- had placed on his grand daughter.  That curse had supposedly caused his grand daughter to wither up and die. One of the more common and intriguing murder theories was that her slave Overseer murdered her.  He was said to practice Voodoo, but hid it from Annie.

Voodoo set up 

     His daughter was engaged to another young slave at the plantation.  This young slave was soon called upon to be Annie's latest lover. Everyone knew what that meant.  His time was numbered.  As with the others, she killed him as well.  The Overseer's daughter was left a heartbroken wreck and the Voodoo practicing overseer in a fit of rage.  Regardless, she was killed, which seemed fair enough all considering.  The slaves just wanted her buried as soon as possible in the deepest hole they could dig.  Fearing her return from the dead, the servants burned most of her possessions, fearing that they were tainted with remnants of her evil spirit.  They also performed a voodoo ritual to keep her in the tomb, but they didn't finish properly and it is said she still haunts Rose Hall. 

Annie's tomb
This was the beginning of the slave uprisings which stretched from 1831 to 1838.  Ironically, Annie had conducted human sacrifices, and had no idea she'd be the last sacrifice.  She was her own undoing.  The house passed through the hands of 3 owners, then Rose Hall Great House was acquired by American millionaire John Rollins who spent vast sums of money to restore his property to it's former beauty in the 1960's.  It boasts silk wallpapers, European antiques, chandeliers, mahogany floors, panelling and wooden ceiling.  During the Slave Rebellion, 685 of the great houses were burned to the ground as hated symbols of extravagant life styles founded on cruelty. Somehow, Rose hall remained, surprisingly. 

beautifully restored staircase

     Make no mistake about it, Annie Palmer still haunts "her" house, or torture plantation should I say? I'm not sure why they call her the White Witch because White implies some sort of goodness in my head. But whatever.  I've been "outvoted" it seems. Her victims "haunt" the house also.  She has been said to seize "intruders" as she sees them. She is also seen riding a large black horse at night wearing a green velvet dress, and snapping her whip at anyone who gets in her way.  You can hear her footsteps hurriedly walking through the main hall to the back entrance of the Great House.  There are also stories of whispered voices in the dungeon, invisible footsteps on the stairs and elsewhere, and tapping on the walls. Some visitors also hear the cries of babies she had sacrificed for voodoo rituals.  There is also talking and music, as if from her lifetime. The ghosts developed a taste for playing with electricity since the 18th century.  

A tour
      Not surprisingly, visitors have witnessed and photographed or recorded many supernatural phenomena in her bedroom.  I'd believe it.  She was in there a lot, between murdering husbands in sleep, going on her balcony to command the slaves, as well as entertaining uncountable lovers before murdering them.  They were her toys. She was a control freak, among many other things. There is a picture of her in her bedroom that she manifests herself in perhaps.  A lot of people say they see her eyes following them.  There's also a mirror in her room that people often photograph, to find someone else in the mirror that wasn't there.  I hate to think of what other sounds that can still be heard in the bedroom.  We won't go there.

Her photo. I don't know about the beautiful thing.
But whatever.

The "haunted" mirror

     During renovation, there were many different ghostly phenomena.  Workmen reported tools being moved or hidden, then appearing where they originally left it, or not at all.  Some reported answering to a voice calling their actual name, only to find they were alone or out of earshot of anyone else. Newly refinished floors would become damaged overnight, when no one was there, with what looked like blood stains.  Soon, most of the workforce were off the island  Eventually it was refurbished. Now, some people even have special occasions there such as weddings. 


refurbished Rose Hall prepped for event
    Country Legend, Johnny Cash and his wife June, were drawn to Jamaica and they stayed in Cinnamon Hill Manor, a great house located by Rose Hall.  They are neighbors. Cash was a long time Jamaica resident at least for part of the year.  Johnny cash, unknown to a lot, cleansed his soul at Jamaica, sometimes alone, usually with his family.  He was a committed supporter of S.O.S. Children Charity.  He would go visit the children when he was in Jamaica and play with them, and for them. If you'd like to contribute or check out the charity, go to

Johnny with the S.O.S. children

     Johnny Cash had said, amongst family in Jamaica, right by Montego Bay, at Cinnamon Hill, "I'm thankful for the sea breeze that feels so good right now, and the scent of jasmine when the sun starts going down. I'm a happy man. I'm thankful I was led to this place. Jamaica has served and renewed me more times than I can count."  He was also very intrigued by his spooky neighboring house, Rose Hall. He even wrote a song about it in the early 70's, called The Ballad of Annie Palmer.

Here is the link to the video with the song and slide show. You may need to cut and paste. It's worth it.

In memory of Johnny cash
Feb. 26, 1932- Sept. 12, 2003

     Now the Ritz Carlton is built on land once part of Rose hall's thousands of acres of land. The dungeon has been turned into a bar and gift shop. I'll bet that didn't sit well with the restless spirits stuck there. Or Annie, her chamber of horrors was made into a bar and gift shop. Need I say more?  But I will. The shop has a lot of visitors.  There's even a golf course called "White Witch Golf Course." I wish I was kidding.

White Witch Golf course

         The bar/dungeon at Rose Hall, serves it's own drink called "The Witches Brew." It is supposed to make you more attractive to Annie. Just wondering.... why would you want to be more attractive to her? If you were attractive to her, back in her time of evil, she would take you as a love slave or husband, then murder you in cold blood. Is there a drink that makes you look less attractive to her? I'll have that!  There are day and night tours now.  I would love to do the night tour and if I'm lucky, perhaps have some sort of paranormal experience.  That would be incredible!  A lot of people have gone there and had ghostly experiences. When they get it in a picture, they mail it to the house and they are posted on the wall in the bar. Have a drink, chill with a ghost...count me in! I should have some awesome pics to show after my trip. Hopefully a spooky one or two...or more...  So add Rose Hall to your list if you are going to be in Jamaica, or if not, regardless, Jamaica is still fun with beautiful beaches for sunning and snorkeling. 

Could this be Annie's spirit?

Rose Hall at night

Ritz Carlton, Montego Bay, Jamaica-on Rose Hall grounds

Frog Pond at Rose Hall

Orbs at Rose Hall

One of Annie's Dresses

Montego Bay

The view from Rose Hall

Snorkel Time!

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