The History of Liberty Hill Great House

Liberty Hill Great House sits 1200 feet above sea level on 25 acres, just minutes from the historical town of St. Ann’s Bay. Liberty Hill great House was built in 1740. It is an old pimento plantation.

The Parish of St. Ann is one of the oldest populated areas in Jamaica tracing back to 600 - 650 A.D. It is believed to be the earliest Taino/Arawak settlement in Jamaica. It is also believed that these indigenous people of Jamaica, the Arawak Indians lived on the site of Liberty Hill Great House. The Tainos found the property to be a useful vantage point, (1200 ft. elevation) ideal for observing approaching ships.

When Christopher Columbus first came to Jamaica in 1494, he landed on the shores of St. Ann. He returned to Jamaica on his fourth voyage and was eventually marooned for one year at St. Ann's Bay (June 1503 - June 1504.)

The old greathouse of Liberty Hill in St. Ann, stands on a rising about 2½ miles north of St. Ann’s Bay, a short distance from the main road between Lime Hall village and the Bay, on the right hand. Almost opposite to the turning into Liberty Hill lies a curve and high embankment, which, in my childhood days was massed with the most luxuriant display of maidenhair ferns. In those days whenever I was resident at my grand-parents home of Lime Hall, after which property the village was re-named (it was originally Clark’s Town) a walk to Liberty Hill to visit the then owners, the four Stennett sisters, was always a source of real pleasure and remains a memory that is indelible.

The Stennet Sisters

At that time the sisters, Miss Annie, Miss Winnie, Miss Dora, and Miss Georgiana, although aged with snow-white hair, nevertheless took an active part in the life of the village, Miss Winnie being the organist at the small church. Their library of ancient literature had a strange fascination for me and in those days when books were hard to come by in the remote country areas, I always came home from a visit to them laden with reading material from their shelves. Tea on the wide veranda at Liberty Hill from which one obtained an alluring view was always a memorable occasion too. The large stone slabs on the veranda were figured with many strange markings supposedly having some connection with the days of slavery.

The house, which is on a rising of over 900ft, is bungalow in type, with an attic on the upper floor at the rear of the house. In the front a very wide, long flight of stone steps leads down into the garden and lawn, giving the whole a most picturesque setting.

The view extends from Seville, the original Spanish settlement on the west, as far as Port Maria on the east, including Don Christopher’s Cove. It is both an extensive and unusually beautiful outlook, and the atmosphere an admixture of sea and country air, is most invigorating.

We are told that the place originally belonged to a family, Tracey by name, who also owned the sugar estate of Windsor, not far distant and that it was used by them for a change in the hot weather. The Traceys were the ancestors of the Stennett family and a village nearby is named Traceyville. There was too, a property called Tracey which was run by my grandfather, the late Joseph Dussard Ormsby of Lime Hall and Endeavour, somewhere around the 1880s, which I think may have been this same place. So far as I know it was leased and not owned by him.

The Stennett family occupied Liberty Hill from about 1830. Dr. Stennett, the head of the family and the father of the four old ladies I have already mentioned was the member in Spanish Town for the parish of St. Ann. It is said that Dr. Stennett nearly fought a dual with Captain Barrett over a row they had in Spanish Town. Captain Barrett was an ancestor of the Moulton-Barretts, who also sat in the House.

In Historic Jamaica we learn that in the year 1912 an Arawak kitchen, midden (midden - an area of an archeological site that contains domestic refuse…food waste, broken pottery, etc. indicating long term human occupation) was discovered, situated at the top of the hill upon which Liberty Hill stands, which was of peculiar interest. It is thought that the Arawak attached to this midden supplied Columbus and his men with food. The midden covered an area of about half-an-acre at the brow of the hill on which the greathouse stands. The richest collection of remains was found just outside the garden gate on the carriage drive, where they first came to light when a new carriage way was being made to facilitate the then new form of transportation in the advent of motor cars..

Today the graves of the four misses Stennett may be seen just at this spot without gateway. It is thought possible that some of the pottery dug up may have been used to cook the very food with which Columbus was served.

We are also told in Historic Jamaica that the pieces unearthed at Liberty Hill (which are to be seen at The Institute of Jamaica), afford good examples of decoration in the handles especially. One is distinctly fashioned like a parrot’s head, another has a curious serrated edge not until then found in Jamaica. The bowls were found to vary in thickness from three-sixteenths of an inch to half an inch, but pieces of flat cooking slabs were found as thick as one inch. The pottery on the whole seemed better baked than that usually found.” To quote from Historic Jamaica, 1926.

The graves are to the left as you exit the property close by the stone pillar of the entrance onto the parking area further down the hill from the Pimento House, or to the right as you approach from the long driveway to the main entrance to the yard, before you reach the immediate slope into the barbecue area.

 
Today, St Ann’s Bay is a modern city, rich with historical sites. It is one of the few places you can still hear the old church bells ring as a call to worship and toll for those who have passed on. On any given Friday or Saturday evening you can expect to hear a waft of Reggae music drifting across the mountains from the town signaling and celebrating the end of the work week…it is truly then "Jamaica No Problem." Liberty Hill Great House…this 1740 Historical House set on 25 acres, 1200 feet above sea level overlooking the Caribbean Sea still boast a spectacular view of ocean and mountains. The Gardens of Liberty Hill has one of the largest collections of exotic flowers in Jamaica... Haliconia, Ginger, Orchid and exotic Palms, just to name a few. Every variety of tropical fruits can be found at Liberty Hill. This property lives up to the name of its parish location – St. Ann…The Garden Parish. The Great House accommodates up to ten people on an all-inclusive basis. It is the perfect destination for weddings, corporate meetings, conferences and retreats, birthday celebrations, wedding showers, baby showers tea parties and other social events.
 

For more information visit our
Website: www.libertyhillgreathouse.com
Telephone from USA: 248-796-7118 or 248-613-6722
Telephone from Jamaica: 876-972-5441 or 876-392-0918
Email: jkerr@libertyhillgreathouse.com
Map

Specials & Packages

Specials & Packages

Book at stay at Liberty Hill Great House and plan your stay in Jamaica with our specials and activity packages. We can arrange tour packages.

Photos at Liberty Hill

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