Culture & History in Saint Ann Jamaica

Culture & History in Saint Ann Jamaica
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Saint Ann Parish:
Cultural and Historic


Saint Ann Jamaica has many very interesting historic and cultural buildings and sites. They include:
  • 32 Market Street (Marcus Garvey's Birthplace and Monument) – Located in St Ann's Bay, this birthplace of The Right Honourable Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jamaica’s first National Hero, has been declared a national monument. This Jamaican vernacular-style house demonstrates his humble beginnings. He was born there on August 17, 1887, the youngest of 11 children, only two of whom survived to adulthood. There is a bust of him at the front of the house. Also, look for his statue on the property of the Saint Ann's Bay Parish Library.
  • Bellevue Great House – According to archaeologists, Bellevue Great House is situated on an important Taino Indian site. The land which forms Bellevue property was granted to Captain John Davis. Davis Town in the parish was alleged to be named after this family. Bellevue Great House is a typical example of Jamaican vernacular architecture and is currently private property.

  • Belmont Great House – Belmont (originally spelled Bellemont) was also owned by John Davis during the last century. The approach to the house is through a gateway in a stone wall. The house has deteriorated but the estate includes stone out-buildings including a kitchen, store room and a 3-seater outhouse. It may date from the days of slavery. Belmont Great House is presently owned by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC).
  • Bob Marley Centre and Mausoleum - See information under NINE MILE (below).

  • Bromley Great House - Bromley Great House is located in hills of the Walkers Wood district of Saint Ann. It dates from the 18th Century and has an elegant porte-cochère and a lovely wrap-around verandah. The property is the home of Walkerswood Caribbean Foods which produces the world-famous Jerk Seasoning and condiments. 
  • Brown's Town - Brown’s Town is a relatively large Jamaican community about 8 miles up into the Dry Harbour Mountains above Runaway Bay. The town is named after Irishman Hamilton Brown, a wealthy but disagreeable character who owned the Minard and Huntley estates here in the 1800s and kept a private militia. He loathed black people and led a group called the Colonial Church Union, a group of Anglican churchgoers who reportedly persecuted blacks and missionaries by burning down their churches so they would have nowhere to worship. He is buried here in the churchyard of St. Mark's Anglican Church (which he built). Brown’s Town is also the educational capital of the area with a highly respected community college and the renowned St Hilda's High School for Girls and York Castle High School, attended by many prominent Jamaicans. Definitely drive around the area for the scenery, old great houses, and historic churches and buildings. If you are on your way to Bob Marley’s Nine Mile via the B3 out of Runaway Bay, be sure to stop in Brown’s Town, particularly on a Monday, Wednesday or Saturday when the market overflows with higglers (what Jamaicans call street vendors) selling their wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Cardiff Hall Great House is located off the main road to Runaway Bay. The Blagrove family owned Cardiff Hall from 1655 to 1950 and it is perhaps the only property in Jamaica which has been kept in the same family for so many years. The original house was built by slave labor and was rebuilt in 1789 by John Forsythe, a Scottish architect. It is a private property.
  • Cave Valley Chimney - The Cave Valley Sugar Estate in the town of Cave Valley dates from about 1872. The Cave Valley Sugar Estate produced sugar, molasses, and distilled rum. The chimney was once part of the sugar factory and took smoke and fumes away from the factory. It reminds us of the peak of Jamaica’s sugar industry and is one of only a few remaining sugar chimneys.
  • Drax Hall Waterwheel - The first step in making raw sugar from cane juice was to crush the cane by pressing it between the rollers of a sugar mill. A waterwheel was frequently installed to provide the power from nearby river water to turn the mill’s rollers. The Drax Hall Estate has a fascinating history. It was first established as a sugar producing estate in 1669 by William Drax who came from Barbados. In the early 1700s it was owned by Peter Beckford (1674-1735) who was allegedly the wealthiest planter in Jamaica. At his death, Mr. Beckford owned 9 sugar plantations and was part owner of 7 more, as well as 9 cattle pens and a palatial house in Spanish Town. In the early 1800s, Drax Hall Estate was owned by John Pink. At that time, there were 275 slaves living at Drax Hall and the estate produced about 300 tons of sugar, 13,000 gallons of rum and thousand of gallons of molasses each year. It remained a sugar estate through the 1880s before switching over to bananas and cattle and finally copra (from coconut) after 1905. Like many estates in coastal Saint Ann, Drax Hall produced pimento as a secondary crop. The Estate was sold to a developer in 2007 and there are plans for resorts on the estate property. Hopefuly they will preserve some of the history!
  • Edinburgh Castle: Another site with a fascinating history, the ruins of this two-story 18th Century house with two towers at diagonal corners are located 8 miles southwest of Claremont near the village of Pedro. (The castle was built similarly to one at Stokes Hall, near Golden Grove in Saint Thomas.) Edinburgh 'castle' was built by a notorious Scotsman, Lewis Hutchinson, who was better known as the Mad Master of Edinburgh Castle. Allegedly, his hobby was to shoot his departing guests through a loophole in the tower, and steal valuables from their bodies! He is reputed to have thrown his victims’ corpses into a nearby sinkhole, known as Hutchinson’s Hole. After attempting to kill a neighboring planter, he was caught attempting to flee the island, tried and was eventually hanged in March 1773 in Spanish Town Square. Locals report the place is haunted with ghosts of Hutchinson’s victims, especially at night! You can read more about this interesting character in a great article by the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper.

  • Liberty Hill Great House – Built in 1740 on 25 acres, Liberty Hill Plantation was first listed in 1786 as a pimento plantation. It sits 1,200 feet above sea level, overlooking Saint Ann’s Bay and the Caribbean. The property is also associated with the first Taino Indian inhabitants of Jamaica due to the discovery in 1912 of a Taino midden (refuse heap) where the great house stands. The estate was originally owned by the Tracey family who owned the nearby Windsor sugar plantation, and later by their descendants, the Stennett family. Family graves remain on the property. Today the great house is operated as a guest house.
  • Mount Plenty Great House - Mount Plenty was the home of the Custos (superintendent) of Saint Ann, the Honourable John Hiatt, who was born in 1722. He also owned the nearby Hiattsfield estate. He was 98 years of age when he died, and was buried at Mount Plenty. Later owners renovated the building. The property was famous for the breeding of horses, as it is today with thoroughbreds and polo ponies, along with cattle. Orchids and other tropical flowers are grown for export. The Mount Plenty property is privately owned.
  • Nine Mile (Bob Marley Birthplace & Mausoleum): Locally known as Nine Mile, this is the birthplace and burial site of Bob Marley, internationally the most legendary reggae artist ever. Nine Mile is a small, poor town high in the mountains of beautiful Saint Ann. The site is run by the Bob Marley Foundation and some of the funds generated are used for community development at Nine Mile. Tucked behind a tall fence, the site is marked with green and gold flags. Tours are led by guides who take visitors through the house and point out the various personal things Bob Marley wrote about in his songs. I really enjoyed this tour but the drive into the hills can be treacherous; consider one of their escorted tours or a taxi. You get a tour of the very nice mausoleum and the home with walls filled with photographs and messages and mementos left by fans. Another larger museum is in Kingston. There's also a vegetarian restaurant onsite along with a small gift shop. Hours: Daily, 9:30am-6:30pm. To get there from Ocho Rios, take the B3 south for 24 miles to Brown's Town. Continue south to Alexandria, then head east at the signs for Alva, and in another 9.25 miles you will arrive at Nine Mile. If you drove yourself, you'll have to honk at the gate to be let in, or you can call first. Parking is limited. This video will give you a good overview. Phone: 876.995.1763.

Spirit of Reggae from Ocho Rios - $80.75

from: Tours and Co Associates Inc

Feel the spirit and legend of the King of Reggae music come alive as
you walk through the village of Nine Mile, his birth and final resting place.

  • Ocho Rios Fort - Located near Reynolds Pier in Ocho Rios is the Ocho Rios Fort. The fort was built in the late 17th Century and was strengthened in 1780 when a French attack was feared. The Ocho Rios Fort was recently renovated and contains two of the original cannons.
  • Peter Martyr Church (Our Lady of Perpetual Help) - When the Spanish settlement of Sevilla la Nueva was moved from the coast to higher ground, a priest from Italy, Abbot Peter Martyr, began the construction of a cut stone church in 1534. But the Spanish moved their center of government again to Spanish Town so only the church walls were completed. This unfinished structure was known as the Peter Martyr Church. It was allowed to fall into ruin because the British were indifferent to Jamaica’s Spanish architecture and made no efforts to preserve it. In 1925, the owner of the Seville Estate gave five acres of land containing the Peter Martyr Church site to the Catholic Bishop. The pastor raised funds and between 1939 and 1943 constructed a beautiful "Spanish style” church. This Church, named Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, was built adjacent to the site of the Peter Martyr Church ruins and is located on the same property.
  • Rio Hoe: Situated about two miles from Moneague, the rural community of Rio Hoe was one of the island's last Spanish settlements. In the late 18th Century it was a sugar plantation and later the site of cattle pens.

  • Roaring River Great House – Adjacent to the Little River, the entire complex of this Roaring River property includes the main house and back buildings which cover an approximate area of 18,650 ft. The great house shows how classical Georgian architecture came to be blended into Jamaica’s tropical environment.

  • Saint Ann’s Bay Fort - Located west of the town of St. Ann's Bay, the Fort was erected about 1750 at the height of Sevilla la Nueva’s prosperity. In 1795, the fort was declared useless because the sea was overtaking it. A new fort was built at Windsor Point on the opposite side of the bay. The old fort was then adapted as a jail with solitary cells, a treadmill, a separate room for lunatics, a room for debtors, a 'hospital', and a jailers' quarters. Until recently, the fort was used as a slaughter house but is now in ruins.
  • Saint Ann Parish Church - The St. Ann Parish Church was completed in September 1871. The main walls are constructed of cut stone with pointed arch stained glass windows and buttresses.
  • Seville Great House and Heritage Park - Seville Great house is symbolic of the British period. After the capture of the island in 1655, Sevilla la Nueva (New Seville), about one mile west of St. Ann’s Bay, was abandoned by the Spaniards. The British allotted parcels of land to victorious officers and other soldiers. The city of New Seville became the property of Captain Richard Hemmings, an officer of the army, and became Seville Estate. A hurricane destroyed the original great house so, in 1755, Hemmings’ grandson rebuilt. Over the years many changes have been made to the original structure. The property was donated to the Government of Jamaica and is now a museum owned by the Jamaica National Trust Commission. A tour of Heritage Park gives you an understanding about how the town was laid out. Archeologists have found the sites of a fort, castle, sugar works and an unfinished church. The major attraction of the Park is the collection of relics on display in the Great House representing Tainos, Africans and Europeans. The Park features a statue of Christopher Columbus who, with his son, Fernando, was marooned in Saint Ann’s Bay between 1503 and 1504, along with the relic of a waterwheel used to operate the old sugar mill, the Overseer's House and a barbecue. Guided tours are offered. Download Jamaica National Heritage Trust's brochure on Seville here.

For our listing of hidden gems, beaches, waterfalls, recreational stuff, and other fun things to do in this parish, click here.


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  1. I would like to know, how did the community of Alexandria got it’s name?

  2. Hi Sandra. Thanks for visiting! According to the the book Jamaican Place Names by Higman “several of the popular Egyptian names are generic, as in Egypt (Westmoreland and St. Ann), Egypt Pen (St. Mary) and Mount Egypt (Portland), and some, such as Alexandria… derived from classical or biblical sources.”

    However, I have some other suspicions! Alexandria was most certainly named after the large Alexandria Sugar Estate upon whose land the town was eventually established. In 1832, before the abolition of slavery, there were 653 sugar estates in cultivation in Jamaica and over 500 coffee plantations. Alexandria sugar estate probably dates to the late-1700s. The original planter who owned it may have been named Alexander; thus Alexandria.

    But, I personally think there was a connection to Alexandria, Egypt, the important shipping port on the Mediterranean Sea. In 1801, the British won a huge victory there over the French and took possession of the Rosetta Stone, the key to our modern understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphs (which remains in the British Museum to this day). Also, an adjoining coffee plantation was named Rosetta. Aboukir, another adjoining coffee plantation, was clearly named for the Battle of the Nile (1798) which was fought in Egypt’s Aboukir Bay, another British-French battle. Maida, another pen or estate in the area, was probably named for the 1806 British victory over the French in the Battle of Maida in Italy. It seems to me the planters were flaunting their victories over the French with the naming of their pens, estates and plantations!

    MANY of Jamaica’s place names also come from the original homelands of the English, Irish and Scottish planters who settled in the Island, and there were a lot of Scottish people who came to St. Ann in the late 1700s. You can find several pen or estate names around Alexandria – Arbuthnott, Armadale, Calderwood, Culloden, Inverness, and Newton are all the names of Scottish towns, and some Jamaican communities with those names still exist today. Also, the name Alexander is a surname that originated in the Highlands region of Scotland!

    So… no one knows for certain how Alexandria got its name, but I think we can make some fairly reasonable guesses! I hope this helped. Please visit our page on unusual Jamaican place names for more.

  3. where is two sister cave located

  4. Hi. Two Sisters Cave is in Hellshire in the Parish of St. Catherine. Here is a link with more info. Thanks for visiting

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