‘On the Island of Jamaica quite a long long time ago
At Rose Hall Plantation where the ocean breezes blow
Lived a girl named Annie Palmer the mistress of the place
And the slaves all lived in fear to see a frown on Annie's face
Where's your husband Annie one two and three
Are they sleeping beneath the palms beside the Caribbean Sea
At night I hear you riding and I hear your lovers call
And still can feel your presence round the great house at Rose Hall’
Fact and Fiction have a fine line between them; The story of Rose Hall is a prime example of this line. Though we do not know the full truth involving the horror stories that had taken place there, we do know Rose Hall is haunted, with this being said the information your about to read should be taken lightly. It’s up to you to agree or disagree.
The Story starts with a man named Henry Fanning and his young Irish wife Rosa. July 16th 1746 they were to wed and Henry had plans of building his wife a beautiful home overlooking the sea. sadly only months later Rosa was to become a widow. In Henry’s will he left everything to Rosa including the cane land property their home was to be built on. It wasn’t till her second marriage to George Ash in 1750 that Rose Hall would be built. A beautiful home with a hand carved staircase of mahogany, Piazzas above and below four inch tick mahogany doors with chiseled carvings. Tragedy would strike once more in ‘52 when George had become ill and died. Leaving Rosa in her large, sad home.
By 1753 she had jumped into a not so happy marriage with Norwood Witter. Norwood was more interested in what wealth Rosa had than her personal self. When he died in ‘65 most of his money and possessions to Rosa (Excluding a small chunk of money that went to his two sons William and John from a pervious marriage.) Her father and dear friend John Boyd would both die around the same time as her late husband. John Boyd had written in his will he wanted Rosa to be the guardian for his Daughter Rosa Kelly Boyd. Rose being lonely in her home once more accepting the girl to her home.
It was in 1767 Rosa would find true happiness with her last husband John Palmer, a widower with an adjoining property (Palmyra) to Rose Hall and two sons in England. In her will dated 1777 she states ‘in perfect health, mind and memory, thanks be to God for the same--I give, devise and bequeath all the residue of my estate real and personal unto my dearly beloved husband John Palmer, who is most deserving thereof’ In 1790 she had died, leaving everything to John as stated. He had a monument sculpted in memory of Rosa that is in St. James Parish Church in Montego Bay.
1797 John had taken his third wife, a twenty year old lady from Trelawney named Rebecca Ann James, within the same year he was dead. In his will Rose Hall and Palmyra were placed in trust for his two sons and their heirs. Unfortunately by 1818 both John and James Palmer - the sons - were dead, They never visited Jamaica and both were without children. So by terms of the will, Rose Hall and Palmyra had gone to John Palmer’s grand nephew, John Rose Palmer.
John Rose moved to Rose Hall almost immediately, by 1820 he had repaired both great houses and married Annie Mary Patterson, a French women who reportedly stood barely over four foot. Now the story of Annie Mary Patterson (Now Annie Palmer) begins. It’s here the tale of her ruling at Rose Hall that history becomes jumbled with stories of murder, voodoo and cruelty.
Little is known about her marriage to John Rose Palmer, except that his mysterious death came shortly after his marriage to Annie; Leaving everything to her, Rose Hall included. Slaves feared their mistress who ruled with an iron fist. Every morning she’d step out on her small balcony and give orders, if her orders were not drawn out as she demanded she would publicly whip said slaves, send them to the torture dungeon or have them murdered. Annie was also known to have love affairs with slaves she fancied - and once she grew bored she would murder them and have them buried in unmarked graves. Somewhere around this time Annie grew interested in Voodoo.
Her slaves would teach her everything they knew to grow favor and make their chances of becoming victims by her own hands much less. Tales would claim she’d kill infants to use their bones to practice black magic. It was her fancy in Voodoo and her power that made her infamous as ‘The White Witch of Jamaica’. Eventually Annie would marry two more times, both times her husbands would mysteriously die leaving her their wealth. Another story that roams around their deaths is she had buried them under close palm tree’s and set spells on the palms.
Annie’s rein of terror was ended in the 1830s by her Overseer who was a powerful Voodoo practitioner, something he had hid from Annie. Legend goes The Overseer’s daughter was engaged to a handsome young slave; a slave that Annie became interested in. The Overseer began to prepare to protect the man from Annie’s disposable lover policy. Unfortunately Annie did not follow her normal patterns and she killed the young man the same night instead of having her week or more of fun. The grief of the Overseer’s daughter left him in an uncontrollable rage.
Using a Voodoo ritual a special grave in the woods was prepared for the soon to be dead Annie. The Overseer entered Rose Hall and him and Annie engaged in a magical and physical battle, though he succeeded in killing her his own life was taken in the process. Slaves who knew of the Overseers intentions entombed her body in her grave that was intended to keep her from walking the plantation ever again. They failed to complete the ritual properly. Annie the White Witch is said to roam Rose Hall to this day.
Another story of Annie’s death, one that is less likely but still roams the air of Jamaica claims Annie was killed by Baron Samedi (The Voodoo equivalent of the devil) When she tried to raise him to make love to him. Story goes a group of slaves entered the mansion when they heard Annie’s screamed. The door was locked from the inside and when a slave looked through the keyhole he was stricken blind after he saw Baron Samedi in the room. Soon Annie’s screamed abruptly stopped. Once the slaves broke the door down they found Annie dead with her blood covering the walls in symbols for the ritual. It’s also said that three bloody footprints were near her bed just like the three bloody footprints in her first husbands room when he had died at her hands. When a priest was called to investigate he could not find an answer other than her strangled death was by the hands of Baron Samedi.
Rose Hall stood abandoned till the 1960s when it was purchased in a decrepit condition to be renovated to be turned into a museum (and a Ritz-Carlton hotel was built on the grounds as well) During the fixing up process workmen reported strange activity, such as tools being moved and hidden, then being found where they were left or in places that are normally inaccessible. Others also claimed to hear voices calling out their names only to find no one was near to have spoken. Worst of these reports was over night the refinished floors would be scuffed and have old blood stains. Eventually most of the workforce had quit and people from off the island had to come to finish the job.
Unfortunately most of the original items from the house were unrecoverable. The few that were exceptions were a few old paintings and an old mirror, the mirror is a sight to see due to it’s important role in the haunting of Rose Hall. A large amount of people who have taken photos around the house and at the items will find strange images, many have them have sent the pictures back to Rose Hall where they are on display for others to see. Most of these pictures include the old mirror, where people will commonly take a photo and someone not in the room will be shown or palm trees and the sea will be seen.
Other stories include hearing whispered voices in the dungeon, the sound of people walking down the stairs, the cries of murdered babies, Old music being played, tapping on the walls, hurried foot steps, lights being turned on and off at random times and some say sometimes at night you will see Annie Palmer on a large black horse wearing a green velvet dress with a whip in her hand. Some people have reported that after visiting Rose Hall and taking their pictures they will be haunted with nightmares involving death - mainly murder, could this be only their fears coming out in their dreams or is Annie mad at them for entering her home? We may never know.
The Stats – (Where applicable)
• Style of Haunting: Apparitions
• Top 100 Ranking: 26
• Location: Montego Bay, Jamaica
• Date Location Was Constructed: 1750