Rose Hall Great House

Top choice in Montego Bay & Northwest Coast

This splendid 1770s mansion is the most famous great house in Jamaica. John Palmer, a wealthy plantation owner, and his wife, Rose (after whom the house was named), hosted some of the most elaborate social gatherings on the island. Much of the attraction is the legend of Annie Palmer, alleged to have murdered three husbands, whose ghost is said to haunt the house. Rose Hall is 3km east of Ironshore. Entry is by entertaining tour only.

Beyond the Palladian portico the house is a bastion of historical style, with a magnificent mahogany staircase and doors, and silk wall fabric that is a reproduction of the original designed for Marie Antoinette during the reign of Louis XVI. Unfortunately, because the house was cleaned out by looters back in the 19th century, almost all of the period furnishings were brought in from elsewhere, and quite a few are from the wrong century. With that said, the exquisite imported antique furnishings are the genuine article, and many are the work of past leading English master carpenters.

Slaves destroyed the house in the Christmas Rebellion of 1831 and it was left in ruins for more than a century. In 1966 the three-story building was restored to its haughty grandeur.

Tours take in the rooms, including Annie Palmer's bedroom upstairs (which has been decorated in crimson silk brocades because, y’know, red is the color of blood), the secret passage through which she was visited by her slave lover, her tomb, and the cellar with period objects and an English-style pub.

Day tours focus on the sumptuous furnishings, while evening tours are theatrical and fun, with staff leaping at you from dark corners, ideal for those with a stout disposition.