Community Focus:Greenwood Great House - 218 years of authentic history

August 07, 2018

The Greenwood Great House, located atop a hill at the border of St James and Trelawny, has been an enduring historical site overlooking the Greenwood community for 218 years.

While it is not as famous as the legendary Rose Hall Great House in St James, Greenwood Great House stands out as a national monument and historical museum, with many of the house's 19th-century furnishings still surviving to the present day.

Built in 1800 and located 15 miles from Montego Bay, and seven miles from Falmouth, the 15-room house was owned by the Barrett family of Wimpole Street in London, England.

Noteworthy members of the family included Sir Richard Barrett, who served as a Speaker of the House of Assembly and custos of St James.

Thomas Betton, the property's current owner, bought it in 1976 and has lived there with his wife, Ann, ever since. They facilitate guided tours of the great house, where visitors can see antique furniture, exotic musical instruments, and Jamaica's largest plantation library, with up to 300 books dating as far back as 1697.

Asked if he was worried about Rose Hall Great House's greater celebrity status overshadowing that of Greenwood Great House, Betton pointed to his property's authentic historical exhibits as the key to Greenwood's longevity as an attraction.

"Jamaicans have been brainwashed for over 40 years on certain attractions, but for a foreigner, if he comes to Rose Hall, he is going to choose here. We don't have any fiction story here, and we have had people who first came up here when they were children, and they are now grandparents and they still remember those tours," said Betton.

One of the great house's more infamous features is its history of supposedly being haunted, particularly with its famous 'duppy corner', where an oil painting depicts an alleged ghost sighting in the house.

"One of the saddest things is that our school parties (students who come on the guided tours) see the house as a 'duppy house.' On occasion, if the grandfather clock sounds, they stampede out with goose pimples," said Betton. "Ghost stories were used to terrify people, and that is why people believe all great houses are haunted."

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