Rose Hall Great House Jamaica Tour – Trip Report

Things to Do in Montego Bay:

Rose Hall Great House Jamaica Tour

 

Rose Hall Great House Jamaica … no other property or attraction conjures up feelings of fear and curiosity among Jamaicans. The story of the house is what legends are made of – elements of love, lust, voodoo, murder, and mayhem. The real history has become secondary. The impact on the culture seems permanent.

Rose Hall – The greatest of Jamaica’s Great Houses

Rose Hall is the most well known of all the great houses in Jamaica and is easily one of the most recognized houses on the island. The house, located about 9 miles east of Montego Bay sits on a hill with a commanding view of the sea. The home, with the long driveway, is simply grand.

Rosehall Great House Jamaica - Photo Credit - D Ramey Logan

Rosehall Great House Jamaica – Photo Credit – D Ramey Logan

The original house was built in the late 1700s and lay in disrepair from the late 1800s until the 1960s when it was bought and refurbished.

Rose Hall Great House Jamaica Prior to Renovation - Photo Credit Jasonbook99

Rose Hall Great House Jamaica Prior to Renovation – Photo Credit Jasonbook99

 

The Legend of Annie Palmer … True Story or Pure Fiction?

From I was a child, we heard about the legend of Annie Palmer and the fear she evoked among her slaves. A lot of paranormal activity has been reported at the house. Workers would even tell stories of strange happenings. Visitors to the house have claimed to see strange sightings in photographs taken inside the house.

The legend says that Annie Palmer was a cruel mistress who killed three husbands and had many slave lovers, many of whom she killed. She herself was killed by a slave with whom she had an affair. She killed his granddaughter out of jealousy and he, in turn, killed her.

The White Witch of Rose Hall Great House Jamaica – as told by Michelle Rollins, owner

In the era of Google, the story needs to be updated but it is such an integral part of the Rose Hall Great House machinery and the local culture, that they will be sticking to the story, even though the story remains unsubstantiated and appears to be drawn from the book, “The White Witch of Rosehall”, published by Herbert G. de Lisser in the 1920s about a fictional character named Annie Palmer.

White Witch of Rosehall Book Cover

White Witch of Rosehall Book Cover

As it turns out, there was indeed a real person named Annie Palmer who lived there but there is no documentation that she was evil. In fact, it seems she was considered a “good wife”. She left the estate penniless after her husband died. Unfortunately, her story is just plain boring and will never be addressed on the tour. Do yourself a favor and just go with the story while on the tour. Keep your alternate facts to yourself.

Even singer Johnny Cash bought into the legend and immortalized Annie in song.

Listen to his song, “The Ballad of Annie Palmer”.

Lyrics to The Ballad of Annie Palmer

On the island of Jamaica
Quite a long long time ago
At Rose Hall plantation
Where the ocean breezes blow
Lived a girl named Annie Palmer
The mistress of the place
And the slaves all lived in fear
To see a frown on Annie’s face

Where’s your husband Annie
Where’s number two and three
Are they sleeping beneath the palms
Beside the Caribbean sea
At night I hear you riding
And I hear your lover’s call
And I still can feel your presence
Around the great house at rose hall

Well if you should ever go to see the great house at rose hall
There’s expensive chairs and china
And great paintings on the wall
They’ll show you any sitting room
And the whipping post outside
But they won’t let you see the room
Where Annie’s husbands died

Where’s your husband Annie
Where’s number two and three
Are they sleeping beneath the palms
Beside the Caribbean Sea
At night I hear you riding
And I hear your lover’s call
And I still can feel your presence
Around the great house at rose hall

Fiction or not, the place is simply creepy and the legend, which has been burnt into this very popular tourist attraction, is here to stay.

So, if you are a true history buff who craves authenticity, this is not the tour for you.

Visit the home, not for the story but for the architecture and the influence of culture.

Rose Hall Great House Jamaica – Is it haunted?!

Who knows. I don’t think you will find a Jamaican who would be willing to find out for you.

A great many people think so, so much so that it has been featured on the TV Show, “The Most Haunted Places on Earth”.

Rose Hall Great House Jamaica Tours 

There are daytime as well as nighttime tours.

Unless you want to go to a nightclub, there aren’t too many family-friendly things to do in Jamaica after dark.

Having done the daytime tour many years ago, we tried the Rosehall Night Tour.

This took some convincing since I do not like scary movies at all. I still have flashbacks from the Exorcist movie which I saw in 1989. I was the one who screamed in the movie theater during the original Gremlins movie in the scene when the chef opened the pot during the cooking demonstration. So, no, I do not do haunted houses. I had done the day tour in the past, and even then the place was a little creepy.

The architecture of Rose Hall Great House is remarkable.There is great lighting at the front of the house at night which makes it look even more dramatic.

Rose Hall Great House Night Tour

After having our picture taken in front of the house, with Annie looking out from an upstairs window no doubt, we went to the obligatory stop in Dungeon’s Bar, a part of the former cellar.

The night tour blended the legend with an exploration of life at the plantation in the 1800s, which made it interesting. Only about four furniture pieces are original to the house. The rest were reproductions which did seem to fit the period.

The actual tour was about 45 minutes long.

Day tours are conducted from 9:15am – 5:15pm while night tours occur from 6:30-9:15pm

Photos were not allowed of the house, neither inside or outside. This makes it kind of difficult if you are a blogger.

They want you to pay $12 for the photo taken by their photographer. We bought it because we wanted something for the blog. The quality of the photo was poor but we thought we could optimize it using a photo editor. Alas, no such luck. Skip the photo.

Without giving too much away, the best way to describe the night tour is as follows … Think high school haunted house and not a showcase of a home with paranormal activity.

Which Rose Hall Great House Tour is better – the day tour or the night tour?

The place is a little creepy, day or night.

The tour that would be best for you depends on why you want to do the tour.

If you are interested in architecture, antiques and or history, then do the day tour. You will be able to see the property better, including the grounds, and be able to pay more attention to details.

If you want more of a haunted house experience, to see if you can be scared, then do the night tour. I found it difficult to pay attention to the guide during the night tour because I kept thinking that at any moment, someone was going to jump out from somewhere and scare me.

If you are looking for a tour about paranormal activity, this isn’t it. The tour is more interactive shall we say with people trying to scare you.

If you are a scaredy cat, definitely do the daytime tour.

Things to Do in Jamaica - Rose Hall Great House Tour

Is it worth visiting Rose Hall Great House? Is it worth the admission fee?

We will let you decide. Trip Advisor gives is a 4.5-star rating from over 2000 reviews. They have a 4.3 out of 5 rating on Google out of about 160 reviews.

There aren’t many attractions in Jamaica that cost $20 or less. If you keep your expectations reasonable, you probably won’t mind the price.

Just so you know ….

  • You have to be able to climb stairs.
  • There is quite a bit of walking so wear comfortable shoes.
  • The property is not handicap accessible.
  • There is no air-conditioning in the house.
  • No photography or videography is allowed, even of the outside of the house. If you want a photo you have to buy the one taken by their photographer. This just feels wrong to me.
  • This tour is not for young children.
  • Admission costs $US20 per adult and $US10 per child age 4-11.
  • The tour is guided so you can’t walk around by yourself.
  • The tour begins and ends in the Dungeon’s Bar. You are encouraged to buy their signature drink, Witches Brew. Drinks are not free. You have to buy your drinks.
  • You aren’t able to appreciate the grounds during the night tour because it is too dark.

Last words …

If you go, please, when you get back to where you are staying, turn around two times before going inside and throw a pinch of sand over your left, not your right, shoulder. That will confuse Annie, just in case her spirit came back with you. You never know ….

Rose Hall Great House is about 40 minutes drive west of Mais Oui Villa. This is one of several tours that you can do if you stay at Mais Oui.

You may contact Rose Hall through their website or on Facebook.

 

Have you visited Rose Hall Great House? What did you think? Do you have any pointers to share with our readers? Drop us a line in the coments!

 

‘Til next time.

Think and dream Jamaica!

Sherry, Darrell, and Darrian

Considering a visit to Jamaica with a group? Contact us today for more information about, Mais Oui Tennis & Spa Villa, our boutique 8-BR ocean view Jamaica villa rental experience in beautiful Discovery Bay, Jamaica. Perfect for multi-generational families and groups, retreats, and intimate destination weddings and vow renewals.

Visit our website: http://www.MakeItJamaica.com

Give us a call: 866.624.7684 (toll free) or 914.709.0457

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About the Author Sherry

Sherry & Darrell, owners of Mais Oui Tenis & Spa Villa in Discovery Bay, Jamaica, consider themselves unofficial ambassadors for Jamaica. They look forward to using their insider knowledge to help guests create priceless vacation memories. Feel free to say hi!

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