In the last year I must have visited New Seville a dozen times, whenever I’m in St Ann, I always try to stop and have a walk around, even if it’s just for ten minutes. There’s so much history here. This is near the place where the Spanish landed when they discovered Jamaica in 1494 – when Christopher Columbus landed on the north coast in search of gold. The island of Jamaica was then gifted by Spain to the Columbus family. Though the original inhabitants of Seville (of “Maima” as it was originally known) were the indigenous Taino population. The Spanish mostly put an end to the Tainos with harsh slavery. However, archaeological finds were later to confirm that Taino extinction was a myth. Although being enslaved and cruelly treated by Europeans, some Taino did survive. Many escaped into the mountains to co-exist with the Maroons.
In 1655, the British fought the Spanish for Jamaica in an historic battle at Rio Nuevo. As a reward for his role in the battle in 1670, Captain Samuel Hemmings was awarded 2,500 acres of land in Jamaica, including the sites of Seville la Nueva and Sevilla. Hemming’s grandson constructed a 2-story great house at this site along with a slave village and established a successful sugar works. After emancipation in 1834, part of the estate was purchased by the protestant reformers to establish “The Priory”, a free settlement for former enslaved people.
Directions: Easy to find, but easy to miss if you’re going too fast on the north coast highway. If coming from Ocho Rios direction, continue through St Ann’s bay on the north coast highway. At the roundabout go straight on (second exit). After a couple of hundred meters, just as the road starts to dip downhill, the turning is on the left into what looks like a farm lane. Continue up the lane and you’ll come across the ruins and the great house.
Coordinates: 18.48403 -77.73435