Every haunted house comes with a legend, and Rose Hall Estate near Montego Bay is no exception. This place is said to be haunted by the White Witch – real name Annie Palmer – who lived in the house back in the 1800’s.
Legend has it that Annie was born in 1802 in England, and moved to Haiti with her parents when she was 10. Her parents died from yellow fever soon after they arrived and Annie was brought up by her nanny, a voodoo priestess, who trained her in the black arts. She moved to Jamaica at 18 years old to find a wealthy husband, and used her dark magic to entrap Rose Hall Estate owner John Palmer into marriage, making her the heir to the vast plantation. Shortly after they got hitched, Annie poisoned John to gain control of the plantation. And, after she’d managed to get her hands on the estate, she went on to marry again and murder her second husband, plus a slave lover, just for fun.
So what’s the truth? Well, there was a real Annie Palmer and a real John Rose Palmer who married in 1820 and lived at Rose Hall Estate. John Palmer did indeed die shortly after they were married, although there’s no evidence to suggest any foul play, and Annie was left in lots of debt after his death. Annie Palmer left Rose Hall in 1830, and nothing else was ever heard of her. The embellished legend originated from H.G. de Lisser's 1928 novel ‘The White Witch of Rose Hall’ who took Annie’s story and made it just a tad more interesting. But, several ghost sightings at the estate have been reported, so who knows the truth? Debates on how much of the story is true still continue to this day, so the best way to make your own mind up, is to go and see the great house for yourself.
Regardless of whether the story of Annie Palmer is true or not, if you love a spooky sighting and a good ghost story, you have to visit the Rose Hall Estate. Take a tour during the day and you’ll get to see the gorgeous Georgian mansion in all its glory and tour the spectacular grounds, listening to all the legendary stories and history of Jamaica’s most famous house. Inside, the rooms are still spookily preserved with fading Georgian décor, ghostly drapes and eerie creaking floorboards to match. And, deep in the grounds you’ll find a tomb built by slaves to stop Annie’s spirit from rising.
The best time to visit Rose Hall Estate is at night when, over Halloween, special spooky night tours are on the agenda. If you’ve ever been to Thorpe Park during Fright Nights and ventured into one of the horror mazes – you’ll know how scary they can be. There’s nothing like combining dark, ghostly surroundings with some dim lights and creepy characters ready to jump out at you. On this candlelit tour, your guide will take you around the house, which is eerily illuminated in green, while characters from the past are waiting in the wings ready to scare whoever gets in their path. After exploring the bedrooms, the living quarters and the creepy dungeon, and coming into contact with a couple of Annie’s old husbands, you’ll venture into the grounds to seek out her grave – it’s not for the faint hearted. Thankfully, you can cool down with a horror-themed cocktail which is included as part of the package – you’ll need it.
After scaring yourself silly on the ghost tour, carry on the Halloween fun at Pier One restaurant in Montego Bay, which is a 15 minute drive from Rose Hall Estate. This harbour side restaurant-come-nightclub puts on special Halloween parties every year with spooky additions to the menu, a live band, ample decorations and the chance to dress up. Last year the theme was all about witches and Harry Potter, and the venue was completely taken over by pumpkins, cobwebs and horror theming. You can even have an after after-party at Breathless Montego Bay, which is all about around-the-clock entertainment, themed parties and top DJs.
The adults-focussed Riu Reggae comes with a beachfront location and boats swim-up bars.
Brand new for 2017, the ultra-modern boasts the biggest rooftop pool in Jamaica and puts you right in the heart of Montego Bay.
When you're not too busy hunting for ghosts, you can relax at the Riu Montego Bay hotel with a jerk grill on the beach for classic Jamaican barbecues, two outdoor pools and a slick Renova spa.
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