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by Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer
St. Ann is known for its beautiful, luscious landscape and its many attractions, but did you know that the parish has probably just as many historical sites and landmarks?
Abbot Peter Martyr of Angleria, Italy, began building a cut-stone church in 1534 when the Spanish settlement of Sevilla la Nueva was relocated from the shore to higher ground.
Only the church walls were constructed because the Spanish government moved to Spanish Town in 1534. Even though the church's plans had not been discovered, it was thought to be incomplete.
The British were criticised by Edward Long in 1770 for their seeming disregard for the Spanish architecture in Jamaica and for allowing the Church to fall into disrepair.
The Catholic Bishop received ownership of the five acres of property containing the Peter Martyr Church site from Seville Estate owner Mr. William Hoskins in 1925. Mr Hoskins believed that the Catholic Church ought to reclaim the location of the first stone church's historic ruins.
Father Raymond Sullivan, the local pastor, launched an active fundraising effort to construct a church. A stunning "Spanish style" church made of cut stone and local wood was built between 1939 and 1943 with the help of Mr. Harold Brownlow, the Superintendent of the Public Works for St. Ann.
The Seville Great House (Plantation House) and Heritage Park are on the storied Seville Estate. The collection of artefacts on exhibit in the Great House, which highlights many facets of the lives of the Tainos, Africans, and Europeans, is the park's main draw.
The Overseer's House, a BBQ, and a remnant of a water wheel once used to power the old sugar mill are located in the park that overlooks the lovely Caribbean Sea.
The legendary "Las Chorreras" fight, fought in 1657 between the Spanish and the English for control of the island, is thought to have taken place near Dunn's River. The location was known as "Las Chorreras" by the Spaniards, which is Spanish for "the waterfalls or the springs."
Over time, "Ocho Rios" has come to represent "Las Chorreras," the original meaning. Charles Pryce became the first owner under British authority after England's triumph in 1657.
Later, the location of the Dunn's River was included in the 276-acre Belmont property, which the government purchased in 1972 to make room for the construction of recreational and park amenities.
Garvey rose to prominence as an advocate for black empowerment not only in Jamaica but also internationally. The house is built out of wood and set on blocks. Jamaican vernacular can be used to characterise its style.
In 1989, Anthony Scott and the African People Association worked to have a bust of Marcus Garvey placed in front of the house.
A waterwheel was widely erected during the time of the sugar plantations to supply the power to turn the mill's rollers where running river water was accessible and could be used to power a sugar mill.
Water for Drax Hall was supplied by a dam on the St. Ann Great River, which served as the building's western border. Drax Hall was first founded as a sugar-producing company, and it remained one into the 1880s before transitioning to farming bananas, cattle, and then copra after 1905.
Pimento was a minor crop grown by Drax Hall, like many other estates in coastal St. Ann. William Drax, a Barbados native who moved to Jamaica, created Drax Hall Estate in 1669.
Off the main St. Ann road leading to Runaway Bay is where you'll find the Cardiff Hall Great House. Cardiff Hall was owned by the Blagrove family from 1655 until 1950, making it possibly the only Jamaican property to have been passed down through the same family for so long.
The current Cardiff Hall Great House was constructed in 1789 by Scottish architect John Forsythe. He reportedly demolished the slave-built house and rebuilt it.
The St. Ann Parish Church was finished in September 1871 and dedicated as the Church of "St. Anne" on September 20, 1871, by His Lordship the Bishop of Kingston, Rt. Reverend Reginald Courtney. The Colonial Engineer Climie was given the job of building the Parish Church.
The Bellevue Great House is located in the St. Ann parish. The House is believed to be located on a large Taino site based on archaeological data. In actuality, the land has two distinct Taino sites.
The first gold artefact ever discovered in Jamaica was discovered there in 1982. The artefact, a gold disc with an AD 600–800 date, was most likely used by the Taino Zemis, religious/ceremonial gods, as an eye or earplug. The Facey family is now keeping the artefact.
In Brown's Town, St. Ann, some of the first estates to be established were the Minard and New Hope Estates. Dr. Thomas Lecky's efforts helped the estates gain fame in Jamaica.
He was in charge of creating several breeds of cows for the farmers in Jamaica. By 1882, this estate and the New Hope Estate together covered 1,794 acres, of which 150 acres were wooded and ruinous, 1,144 acres were common pasture and pimento, and 506 acres were covered in Guinea Grass.
In 1973, Kaiser Bauxite Company acquired the estates of Minard and New Hope. It was thought that the Minard Great House, which burned down in 1997, was a beautiful example of Jamaican architecture from the early 18th century.
The New Hope Great house was once the home of the Resident Magistrate of the parish. It is constructed of cut stone and is of a typical Georgian architectural style (1714-1837).
Lewis Hutchinson, the first known serial killer in Jamaica, built Edinburgh Castle, which is located in the Pedro, St. Ann. In the 1760s, the Scottish travelled to Jamaica. He quickly earned the name, the mad doctor because he could kill a lone bystander with a single shot.
The body of his victim would subsequently be forced into a sinkhole on the property by his slaves. When his dementia was at its worst, he would entertain his victims in his castle before killing them.
Hutchinson killed many people, but the exact number will never be known. Following his arrest for the murder of John Callander, police searched his residence and discovered a lot of clothing and 43 watches. This plus the testimony of his slaves saw to his eventual hanging and the execution of his accomplices as well.
The home was featured in Assassin's Creed III as the Mad Doctor's Castle.
The so-called "castle" is now in ruins.
The list goes on. Here are a few others:
Now that’s a lot of history to unpack. You might need a few days in the parish to truly soak it all in, so read here for some of the best accommodations you can find in the area.
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What Heritage Sites Are In St Ann? | Written: December 8, 2022