Jamaican Heritage Sites

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

When the Spanish settlement of Sevilla la Nueva was moved from the coast to higher ground, construction of a cut stone Church was started in 1534 by Abbot Peter Martyr of Angleria, Italy. Only the Church walls were built as in 1534 the Spanish centre of Government was moved to Spanish Town. No plans of the Church were found but English historian, Hans Sloane refers to it “…the Church was not finished…built of a type of stone between free stone and marble, taken from the quarry about a mile up the hill…the west gate of the church was very fine work and stands entire, standing seven feet wide and as high before the arch began. Over the door in the middle was Our Saviour’s head with a crown of thorns.” This incomplete structure was known as the Peter Martyr Church. In 1770, Edward Long condemned the British for their apparent indifference to Spanish architecture in Jamaica and for allowing the Church to fall into ruin.

In 1925, the owner of the Seville Estate, Mr. William Hoskins gave title to five acres of land containing the Peter Martyr Church site to the Catholic Bishop. Mr. Hoskins felt that the site of the historic remains of the first stone church should be given back to the Catholic Church. The pastor for the area, Father Raymond Sullivan, began a vibrant fund raising campaign to build a church. It was decided that as far as possible only local material should be used in its construction. The Superintendent of the Public Works for St. Ann, Mr. Harold Brownlow was engaged as the architect and between 1939 and 1943; a beautiful “Spanish style” church was constructed from cut-stone and local timber. This Church which was 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. In fact, some of the stones used in the construction of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church originated from the structure of the Peter Martyr Church. This current Church is therefore forever linked and intimately associated with early Sixteenth Century Church.


Seville Heritage Park

Located on the historic Seville Estate, is the Seville Great House (Plantation House) and Heritage Park.

The major attraction of the Park is the collection of the artefacts on display in the Great House which depicts various aspects of the life of the Tainos, Africans and Europeans. On the Park which overlooks the beautiful Caribbean Sea, are the relic of a water wheel used to operate the old sugar mill, the Overseer’s House and a barbecue. Seville Heritage Park is an ideal spot for picnics, relaxation, and for the adventurous, there is horseback riding.

Guided tours are offered at the Seville Heritage Park.


Dunn’s River

Dunn’s River is believed to be the site of the famous battle of “Las Chorreras”, fought in 1657 between the Spanish and the English for possession of the island.

The Spaniards called the area “Las Chorreras”, which means “the waterfalls or the springs”. The meaning of “Las Chorreras” has been reduced over a period of time to “Ocho Rios” which means eight rivers, although there are actually only four rivers in the area – Cave River, Roaring River, Turtle River and Dunn’s River. These “Chorreras” are characterized by clarity, unending flow and swift descent, punctuated by rapid cascades and waterfalls which pour directly into the Caribbean Sea.

The Dunn’s River Falls and Park is an astounding flowing falls that extends across more than 183 meters or 600 feet.

Following the English victory in 1657, Charles Pryce became the first owner under British rule.

The site of the Dunn’s River later became part of the 276 acre Belmont property, which was acquired by Government in 1972, to provide for future development of recreational and park facilities. The Belmont property was entrusted to the (UDC) for the people of Jamaica.


32 Market Street

32 Market Street St Ann’s Bay is the birthplace of Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jamaica’s first National Hero. He was born there on August 17, 1887, the youngest of eleven children.

He came from very humble beginnings but this did not stop him from becoming a leader of his people. His poor economic background resulted in an early end to formal schooling. However, he did not allow this to affect his deep desire to learn. Garvey became a champion for the upliftment of blacks not only in Jamaica but world-wide.

The house is constructed from timber and placed upon blocks. Its style can be described as Jamaica vernacular. In 1989 a bust of Marcus Garvey was erected at the front of the house through the efforts of Anthony Scott and the African People Association


Drax Hall Waterwheel 

The first step in the manufacture of raw sugar from cane juice was to crush the cane by pressing it between the rollers of a sugar mill. During the sugar plantation era, where flowing river water was available and could be harnessed to power a sugar mill, a waterwheel was frequently installed to provide the power to turn the mill’s rollers. At Drax Hall, the water came from a dam on the St. Ann Great River, which formed the western boundary of Drax Hall. It travelled in a gutter, through Dam Piece, to the main road, then along the road until it passed underneath to a dam near the estate’s entrance gates, and finally was carried in pipes to the works. The considerable cost of the construction was recovered in the plantation’s greatly improved productivity (Higman 1988:101). According to Higman, the significant increase in productivity at Drax Hall between 1750 and emancipation was in large measure a result of improved milling efficiency (Ibid). The estate had discontinued the use of the distant windmill and set up a watermill.

Drax Hall was first established as a sugar producing entity; it remained a sugar estate through the 1880s before switching over to bananas and cattle and finally copra after 1905 (Armstrong 1990:30). Like many estates in coastal St. Ann, Drax Hall produced pimento as a secondary crop.

Drax Hall Estate was founded in 1669 by William Drax who came to Jamaica from Barbados (Higman 1988:99). The senior Beckford was said to be the richest planter in Jamaica. At his death he owned nine sugar plantations and was part owner of seven more as well as nine cattle pens and a house in Spanish Town (Higman 1988:99). His son was born in Jamaica, but became an absentee. In 1821, Drax Hall passed from the Beckford family to John H. Pink, who died in 1841. The Sewell family later purchased Drax Hall Estate and today the property is in the hands of Drax Hall Limited, a subsidiary of the Gulf and Western Corporation.


Cardiff Hall Great House

The Cardiff Hall Great House is located off the main road to Runaway Bay, St. Ann. The Blagrove family owned Cardiff Hall from 1655 to 1950 and it is perhaps the only property in Jamaica which has been handed down in the same family for so many years. The present Cardiff Hall Great House was built in 1789 by John Forsythe, the Scot Architect. He apparently rebuilt the house that had been erected by slave labour. The house possesses a renaissance character and has always been noted as an outstanding residence by visitors and writers.

Cardiff Hall Great House is a private property.


Heritage Sites by Parish

Skip to content