In the heart of Kingston, a heritage site with great house, restaurants and shops. Built by Jamaica’s first black millionaire 127 years ago, this is one of the few tourist attractions in the centre of the metropolis. Pleasant eating spots are surrounded by eleven acres of lawns and the refurbished great house which displays furniture from the Jamaica of the 1800s.
Morant Bay Courthouse
The Morant Bay Courthouse, which was destroyed by fire on Monday, February 19, 2007, is an important part of the history of St. Thomas. It was the scene of the Morant Bay Rebellion of 1865.
The riot began as a protest by local citizens against poor economic and social conditions in the country. On October 11, 1865, two large organised bands of people, who were mainly cultivators, marched into Morant Bay, armed with sticks and cutlasses. The local militia and police were in front of the building and although the Custos addressed the crowd from the portico, it was to no avail and on the mob's advance the militia opened fire.
All that remains of this historic site are the brick walls of the structure. Edna Manley's statue of National Hero Paul Bogle, which stands in front of the courthouse was not destroyed. The Courthouse was the venue for the St. Thomas Parish Council meetings and the sitting of the Circuit Court in St. Thomas.
National Heroes Park, Kingston
The area on which the National Heroes Park now stands was once one of the most popular spots in Kingston. Known previously as the Kingston Race Course, for 101 years, the land was the centre for horse racing in Jamaica. It was also the site for other sporting activities such as cricket and cycle racing. Being a place where people naturally gathered, the area was also the venue for travelling circuses that visited the island from time to time.
It remained a race course until 1953 when horse racing was transferred to Knutsford Park, (now the business district of New Kingston.
In its long history, several interesting events are associated with the site. On August 2, 1838, grand festivities marking the end of apprenticeship and the beginning of full freedom from slavery were held here. Queen Victoria's Golden and Diamond Jubilees were honoured here in 1887 and 1897 respectively.
The Jamaica National Exhibition was held from January 27, to May 2, 1891, in a building called Quebec Lodge, which is now the Wolmer's School site.
In 1953, the Kingston Race Course was renamed the George VI Memorial Park in honour of the late King George VI, father of Queen Elizabeth II and the grounds were prepared for the Queen's first visit to the island.
In the same year, a War Memorial to honour those who died in the First World War was removed from its original location at Church Street and relocated here. Each year, on Remembrance Day, the first Sunday in November, veterans gather around the Cenotaph to honour the memory of those who died in World Wars I & II.
The site was officially renamed the National Heroes Park in 1973 and is now a permanent place for honouring our heroes whose monuments are erected in an area known as the Shrine.
Another section, reserved for prime ministers and outstanding patriots, adjoins the Shrine area, to the north.
Rose Hall Great House
On the outskirts of Montego Bay, on hills overlooking the sea, the Rose Hall Great House was built in the mid 19th century and is the former home of the legendary White Witch of Rose Hall, Annie Palmer. The Georgian building was restored in the 1960s after lying in ruins for many years. The tour gives the opportunity to hear the scary history of Annie’s escapades and see the fine restoration and antique furniture. A pub and restaurant are also on site.
Spanish Town Square
Spanish Town, Jamaica, still retains a fine collection of 18th century buildings in its main square. The Assembly House on the eastern side of the square was built between 1755 and 1762, and finished over several years. It is now used by the St. Catherine Parish Council.
On the west, King's House, the Governor's Official residence until 1872, was built in 1765.
On the north, the Rodney Memorial and the buildings on either side were built to commemorate Rodney's victory over the French in a 1782 battle.
Unfortunately, the Court House, which was built on the south side in 1818, was gutted by fire and has not been restored.