Seville Great House

Top choice historic site in St Ann’s Bay

This historical park overlooking the sea, less than 1km west of present-day St Ann’s, marks the site of the first Spanish capital on the island – Sevilla la Nueva – and one of the first Spanish settlements in the New World. It houses a fascinating great house, plantation remains and reconstructions of Taíno houses, African slave houses and a slave kitchen garden.

When the English captured Jamaica from the Spanish, the land on which Sevilla la Nueva had been built was granted to army officer Richard Hemming. The estate was developed for sugar, and was dominated by the Seville Great House, built in 1745 by Hemming’s grandson. The family tombs are outside, and next to them is a memorial to the slaves whose remains were discovered on the site and reburied here in 1997.

The restored house contains an excellent museum depicting the history of the site from Taíno times through the era of slavery and the colonial period.

Traces of the original Spanish buildings, including a church and the castle-house of the first Spanish governor, are visible, along with the ruins of the English sugar mills and the overseer's house. This was also the site of the Taíno village of Maima; the inhabitants were forced to work as serfs under the Spanish encomienda (forced labor) system, and quickly died out through a combination of disease, overwork and suicide.