Annie Palmer and Rose Hall

Annie Palmer is said to be of mixed English and Irish descent.  There are no pictures of her, but she is rumored to have been rather short (under five feet) with dark hair.  Some have said that she was pretty.  Annie's parents were missionaries in Haiti, which is where she was raised.  Annie spent a lot of her time with a native Hatian voodoo priestess who taught her the black arts.

Annie married John Palmer at 18 and moved to Jamaica with him.  The house she became mistress of is one of the few surviving Great Houses.  Apparently, Annie did not enjoy married life with John.  Some accounts say that he beat her, and others say that he learned she had taken a slave as her lover.  Regardless of the reason, Annie poisoned John Palmer.  Annie later married two other men, both of whom died under mysterious circumstances.  Annie claimed that they suffered from mortal illnesses, and quarantined the bodies.  She later had them carried out and buried by slaves, who disappeared afterward.  It is believed that she had the slaves killed so they couldn't tell anyone about the true cause of death.  Interestingly, each husband lived and died in a different bedroom.

One of the most widely-held beliefs is the certainty that Annie enjoyed torturing her slaves.  She had a small second-story balcony on the rear of the house, where she would stand and watch slaves being beaten or whipped, often to death.  Naturally, the slaves were terrified of her and wished to be free from her.  One story tells of a servant girl who tried to poison her.  The attempt was unsuccessful.  Annie was aware of her slaves' fear and often had a cat test the food before she ate.  This seems to be what she did this time, and discovered the plot.  Annie had the servant tried and executed, but requested that the girl's head be returned to her.  She kept the head on a stick outside as a warning to the other slaves.

Annie is said to have enjoyed riding horseback at night.  She often rode through the countryside and mercilessly whipped any slaves she found outside after dark.  The native Jamaicans also claim that she used her voodoo powers to create monstrous apparitions, often in the form of menacing animals.  The stories say that she would be seen in the area shortly before or after the apparitions.  These apparitions often appeared when the slaves met for celebrations or to conspire against their mistress.

The most complete account of life at Rose Hall comes from the journal of a young bookkeeper who was sent to work at the plantation to learn the process before taking over one of his father's plantations.  This young man was much admired by Annie, who desired to take him as her lover.  Unfortunately for her, the bookkeeper fell in love with a servant who cleaned his house.  When Annie learned why the bookkeeper discouraged her advances, she became very angry and put a curse on the servant girl.  The servant girl became very afraid and told her uncle about the curse.  Her uncle practiced the white magic side of voodoo, but was not powerful enough to life the curse.  The servant girl died soon after.  Her uncle became very upset and held a meeting with a group of Annie's slaves.  One night, the group (led by the uncle) raided the house.  They found Annie in her bedroom and killed her.  The young bookkeeper heard of the plot and went along, trying to stop the slaves before they killed Annie, but he was unsuccessful.  Afterward, the slaves burned some of Annie's belongings - particularly the pictures.  They were careful not to burn everything, and not to destroy the entire house because they were afraid that Annie's spirit would put a curse on all of them.  Although damaged, Rose Hall remained standing.

After her death, Annie's slaves refused to bury her.  Annie's neighbors eventually ordered their own servants to go and bury Annie on the plantation grounds.  Annie's grave is still there, next to the house.  When they marked the grave, they put crosses on all sides except one.  Apparently, they weren't sure if Annie's spirit was inside or outside of the grave, and they didn't want to make her angry by locking her out of her resting place

Rose Hall was left in ruins for many years.  Local residents were afraid to move into the Great House, remembering Annie's declaration that it was her house, and no one else would ever have possession of it.  After many years, a couple bought it and planned to restore it for themselves.  While they were moving in, a servant woman fell from the observation balcony Annie used for witnessing whippings, and broke her neck.  The fall was considered very mysterious due to the waist-high railing that encircles it.  No one knows why the servant woman was on the balcony, but many believe that she was somehow lured there by Annie's spirit, and pushed over the railing.

Several years later, another couple bought the house.  They carefully restored it and gave it to the Jamaican people as an historical landmark.  It is now open for guided tours, and contains a gift shop. Jamaicans still believe it is haunted.  Tours of the house end early so that all of the employees can leave before Annie's spirit comes out to wander. 

Many visitors report strange images appearing in their developed photographs.  Some report the appearance of woman's face in the mirror in Annie's bedroom.  Others report glowing or foggy areas appearing on the bed in Annie's room and sometimes in other areas of the house.  Visitors have also reported that the film they used in certain rooms of the house would not develop, while the rest of the roll was fine.  Others say that all the pictures they shot inside to house develop with a misty look, while outdoor photos are clear.  Some of these mysterious photographs have been sent to Rose Hall and are displayed in the gift shop.


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