Spanish Town’s finest old buildings enfold this square (more formally known as Emancipation Sq).
Dominating the north side is the elaborate Rodney Memorial, built for Admiral George Rodney, the commander-in-chief of the West Indian Naval Station who saved Jamaica from a combined French and Spanish invasion fleet in 1782. He stands within a cupola temple, with sculpted panel reliefs showing the battle scenes.
The building behind the memorial is the National Archives, with national documents dating back centuries, including the proclamation of the abolition of slavery.
On the eastern side of the plaza is the 1762 redbrick House of Assembly. It has a beautiful wooden upper story with a pillar-lined balcony. The Assembly and Supreme Court sat here in colonial days, when it was the setting for violent squabbles among feuding parliamentarians.
On the square’s south side are the fenced-off Courthouse Ruins, dating from 1819 but destroyed by fire in 1986.
On the west side of the plaza is the porticoed Georgian redbrick facade of the ruins of the Old King’s House, a once-grandiose building erected in 1762 as the official residence of Jamaica’s governors.
Today the stables, to the rear, house the People’s Museum of Crafts & Technology. A reconstructed smith’s shop and an eclectic array of artifacts – from Indian corn grinders to early sugar-processing and coffee-making machinery – provide an entry point to early Jamaican culture. A model shows how Old King’s House once looked and the outdoor section features carriages used in colonial times.