The White Witch of Rose Hall

Rose Hall is widely regarded to be a visually impressive house and the most famous in Jamaica. Built in the 1770s on Montego Bay, 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. Rose Hall Plantation was an island paradise— though only for those who lived in luxury within the house. For the slaves who worked the sugar cane plantation, Rose Hall could sometimes be deadly. Rose Hall was once the home of Annie Palmer—a woman the locals feared in her day. Even today, her legend is used to scare children across the island of Jamaica, and she is best-known as “The White Witch of Rose Hall.”

It is a Georgian mansion with a stone base and a plastered upper storey, high on the hillside, with a panorama view over the coast. There is a bar downstairs and a restaurant. Rose Hall is also known for holding seances to try and conjure her spirit and gain answers about the mysterious deaths of her husbands and fanciful legends of underground tunnels, bloodstains and hauntings that surround it. There is little evidence to support the legend other than a version of which was written by H. G. de Lisser in his 1928 novel The White Witch of Rose Hall.

Rose Hall, Jamaica

Annie Palmer was born as Annie Mae Patterson in the early 1800s and grew up in Haiti. She had a Haitian nanny who taught her voodoo from a young age. When Annie was 10, her parents died under mysterious circumstances, and her nanny raised her until she was 18. Ever ambitious, Annie wanted wealth and wanted it quickly—she came to Jamaica and enchanted local plantation owner John Palmer. They were soon married, and Annie became mistress of the plantation. But Annie was hungry for more excitement and had gotten bored with her husband. She demanded that some of the slave men come to her bedroom so she could have her way with them. When she grew tired of these lovers, she would have them killed so they couldn’t tell anyone else.

According to the legend, Annie’s husband died mysteriously one evening, and Annie inherited everything. She married twice more, and again, two more husbands died. Each time, she acquired more wealth. And all the while, she brought slaves into the Great House for her pleasure before having them dispatched when she grew tired of them. The other slaves were suspicious, but they didn’t say anything publicly out of fear of the White Witch. According to Beverly Gordon, a native Jamaican and the current manager of the Rose Hall Great House, Annie Palmer not only beat the slaves in daylight but she also brought them back to the mansion for further torture. Gordon said, “Where the ladies’ and gentlemen’s rooms are now, that’s what she used as her dungeon, and those two pits went 16 feet down. That’s where she kept the slaves if they were caught trying to run away from the property. She would get them there, throw them in the pit, and then leave them there to die without food or water, no medical attention whatsoever. She was gruesome, awful.”

Tomb of Annie Palmer

In 1971, a group of psychics came to Rose Hall to try and trap the spirit of Annie Palmer. Gordon said, “They tried to raise Annie, and she was giving them a hard time. She came out of the tomb, they were trying to get her back in, and they could not. On her tomb, they placed three crosses on three sides. They wanted to trap her spirit back inside the tomb and they could not, so they did not put the fourth cross on. They just left that side open.” Today there are ghostly phenomena in every corner of Rose Hall. People report hearing doors slam on their own, and men’s screams echo through the chambersand hallways. Apparitions have been sighted and even photographed throughout the building, especially in the bedrooms.

Now, Rose Hall has been used as a museum for tourists who wish to see where Annie Palmer ate, slept and also areas of the house where she is said to haunt. Possibly areas where the murders took place e.g in her bedroom, where she suffocated one of her lovers with a pillow.

(Sources : Encyclopedia of Haunted Places : “Ghostly Locales From Around The World” by Jeff Belanger; and Wikipedia)

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The White Witch of Rose Hall The White Witch of Rose Hall Reviewed by Tripzibit on 14:29 Rating: 5


  1. When I visited Jamaica we stayed right next to Rose Hall. We didn't know about all the stories until we got there. It's all very interesting, and I'm glad the Witch of Rose Hall left us alone when we were there.

  2. I'm not at all familiar with this story so thanks so much for the wonderfully written piece. Seems as though she hand a way around the men, especially their pockets.

  3. I was fascinated by Rose Hall Great House from the moment I first visited it. That's why I made it a part of my novel, Hearts Across Forever, and also a part of my coffee table book, Hotels to Remember. Both are available from Amazon. I am planning to write a book about hotel ghosts and would love to know more about the Rose Hall sightings. Please let me know whom to contact.

    Mary Montague Sikes

  4. wow, that gave me the creeps! I've never heard of Rose Hall before. Thanks so much for sharing this! :)


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