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The White Witch Legend

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  • The White Witch Legend

    Every year thousands of tourists and Jamaicans visit the famous Rose Hall great house, on the island’s North Coast, and enjoy a tour of the building, lovingly restored at enormous cost, and magnificently furnished with antiques.

    Period costumed guides take visitors through the house and re-tell the story of Annie Palmer, once mistress of Rose Hall, a woman of unbridled passions and cruelty, steeped in obeah, blood and murder.

    The line of patter today differs very little from a late Victorian version of the story, which tells how Annie “poisoned her late husband, aided by her paramour, a Negro, whom she flogged to death to close his lips; again married, poisoned her 2nd husband, whose death she hastened by stabbing him with a knife, married her third paramour ….who disappeared mysteriously.”

    Her 4th husband made off while he still had his life.

    The story has it that she was killed by her slaves, and her supposed grave, at the side of the great house, is pointed out to visitors. It is all essentially the story that H. G. DeLisser set down in his book The White Witch of RoseHall in 1929, and which was retold – with considerably more sex and violence – by Harold Underhill in his 1968 novel Jamaica White.

    The trouble is, to use the vernacular: “It don’t go so,” John Palmer, Custos – essentially the chief magistrate of St. James Parish, acquired the property which became Rose Hall through his marriage to the widow of the previous owner. He began building the great house in 1770. It took him 10 years to complete, at the astonishing cost of 30,000 Pounds, its interior replete with an imposing mahogany staircase of singular grandeur.

    The Reverend Hope Waddell wrote that the “floors and stairs, wainscoting and ceiling, doors and windows were of mahogany, cedar, rosewood, ebony, orange and other native hardwoods of various colours.”

    Mrs. Rosa Palmer’s first 3 husbands had all died of natural causes. She was married to John Palmer for 23 years, dying at the age of 72 in 17909. He commissioned British sculptor John Bacon, R.A., to create a monument for her, and placed it in St. James’ Parish Church in Montego Bay.

    Mounting debts eventually caught up with Palmer and he was forced to mortgage the Rose Hall estate and move to more modest accommodations at Brandon Hill. The property was under the jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery at the time of his death in 1797.

    Rose Hall apparently remained unoccupied until 1820, when Palmer’s grand-nephew and heir, John Rose Palmer, obtained the title and moved into the great house with his wife, Anna.

    British architect James Hakewell depicted the revitalized Rose Hall, with its pillared gateway on the main road, and half-mile driveway to the house, in his book A Picturesque Tour of the Island of Jamaica, published in 1825.

    John Rose Palmer died 2 years later and his widow, Anna, moved away. Rose Hall was empty once more. In August, 1830, when she allowed Presbyterian missionary Waddell to use it for congregation, he noted that it was occupied only by “rats, bats and owls.”

    Archivist Geoffrey Yates has convincingly shown that Anna Palmer was Jamaican born and bred, daughter of a planter and granddaughter of a former Custos of the Parish of Hanover. Moreover, she married only once, died peacefully at Bonavista, near Montego Bay, in 1846 and was buried locally.

    So how did the legend get started?

    In 1868, John Castello, Editor of The Falmouth Post, published a gory tale of debauchery, obeah and murder at Rose Hall, implying that it had happened almost 4 decades earlier. He identified Mrs. Anna Palmer as the central character, adding that her memorial was in St. James’ Parish Church.

    Through a mish-mash of mis-information, mis-statement and imagination, Annie Palmer – an orphaned Irish immigrant of DeLisser’s story, an English adventuress in Underhill’s one – became immortalized as a murderess.

    The Henderson family who owned the Rose Hall estate for some years, removed the mahogany staircase from the great house, along with the main doors, and installed them in their home in Kingston. The building, which gained an evil reputation, remained empty, gradually falling into ruin.

    In 1965 the property was bought by American multimillionaire John R. Rollins , who developed a golf course, built a large resort hotel and undertook to restore Rose Hall. He spared no expense in the reconstruction and furnishing and then presented it to the nation as a heritage site.

    Who actually lies in the grave beside the great house? At a gathering of psychics held on the grounds several years ago, a Greek Cypriot soothsayer named Bambos declared to an interested audience of 8,000 people that he had just dug up a brass cloth and a voodoo doll.

    They were, he said, the remains of Annie Palmer.

    ‘Nuff said.
    Clowns to the left of me. Jokers to the right. Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.

  • #2
    Re: The White Witch Legend

    ...and happy halloween! thanks for the story!

    Liz
    Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: The White Witch Legend

      <font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">ackeegirl: a Greek Cypriot soothsayer named Bambos declared to an interested audience of 8,000 people that he had just dug up a brass cloth and a voodoo doll.

      They were, he said, the remains of Annie Palmer.

      'Nuff said.</font>
      ... ...Thank you ackeegirl!



      ------------------
      `I sing and dance across the stages of my life~

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: The White Witch Legend

        Rollins were the people I woked for when I was in Jamaica for 5yrs. His wife was Michelle and she wanted to do a movie about the white witch and she wanted to play annie,If it was anything like the story she told she would have been good.

        ------------------
        Peace And Grace
        http:/www.1.beres.jamaicans.com
        Instead of telling God how big your problems are, tell your problems how big God is.
        Peace and Grace
        LlittleLes

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: The White Witch Legend

          Rollins achieved billionaire status before dying in April of 2001 in his eighties. He dreamed of creating 10,000 jobs for Jamaica by developing the gigantic tracts of land he owns along the North Coast.
          Currently, Randall Rollins and Michelle Rollins co-own John's land and investments including the Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall and the Wyndham Rose Hall.
          Annie palmer is still seen on the golf course that was built on the land overlookig the Great House.

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          • #6
            Re: The White Witch Legend

            Wow ackeeg...I always took the legend to be somewhat factual. Makes you really wonder..how & who started it.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: The White Witch Legend

              Ackeegirl, with this thread you just bought back some things. You talk about the White witch Legend. I don't know for sure but I do believe Mr. Rollins like buying things that he could build up and also bring back to life. When he was a child he was so poor that He and his brother Wayne Rollins use to find out who was having a funeral And go to it so they could go to the repass to have something to eat. He grew up in a One room house only one brother. When he married Michelle her mother wanted to restore the house and the gardens . And of course they help to Turn some of the stories that were already turned. They also had those three palm trees put in down by Ironshore . It's suposse to Be Annie the Slave lover And the Slave girl that the slave lover was in love with. They've got so many stories. But I will say one thing when I took a picture in the bedroom as I clicked the picture the camera broke . Sometimes I wish I had never quite ,but it would only be because while I was there I didn't have to pay for anything at all, that was the best part. Sorry the best part was they bought me to Jamaica.

              Peace and Grace
              Instead of telling God how big your problems are, tell your problems how big God is.
              Peace and Grace
              LlittleLes

              Comment

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