My Visit to Halse Hall Great House
I work at Jamalco, an alumina refinery near May Pen along the southern coast of Jamaica. Today, I had a meeting at the Halse Hall Great House owned by Jamalco.
During Spanish colonial rule, the estate was known as Hato de Buena Vista (Ranch or the Beautiful View). When the English drove out the Spanish in 1655, they rewarded various army officers with captured estates. Major Thomas Halse was given Hato de Buena Vista, and he renamed it Halse Hall. He built his great house in 1680 on the foundation of the Spanish hacienda, which sported a magnificent view of the 436-meter tall Mocho Mountains. He built his house like a fortress with thick walls. Security was further strengthened with British troops stationed at all four corners. During this time, Halse raised hogs and cattle.
After Thomas Halse died in 1702, his son, Francis, expanded the structure to its present grandeur in the 1740s during the era of great prosperity and security due to high sugar prices. He developed the house into a grand two-story building with a set of sweeping opposing steps to the grand entrance. The house has a solid feel due to the thick walls and large timbers. The interior white walls emphasize the dark wood work and hardwood floors. The main entry room has a spectacular vaulted ceiling. Since purchasing the Great House in 1969, Jamalco has beautifully preserved this cultural treasure of colonial Jamaica.
Halse Hall Great House, Clarendon, Jamaica. From a Photograph by an Unknown Photographer, c. 1912. Private Collection.
Slaves cutting Sugar Cane on Halse Hall Estate, Clarendon, Jamaica. From a Hand-Coloured Engraving after an original Watercolour by Sir Henry Thomas De La Beche, 1823. Private Collection.