Tours - Historic Spanish Town Square

Parish: St. Catherine

Spanish Town, built by the Spanish after Sevilla Nueva (New Seville) was abandoned, dates from 1534. It was first known as Villa de la Vega, later St. Jago de la Vega and then Spanish Town. The town is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Jamaica. It was the capital of Spanish Jamaica from 1534 to 1655. When the English captured the island in 1655, Spanish Town remained the capital of the island until 1872 when this status was conferred on Kingston. Spanish Town still possesses memories of the past with its many historical buildings. The Emancipation Square is generally acclaimed to be the most impressive of its kind in the West Indies.

Old King's House

In 1762, a new official residence for the Governor, King's House, was erected on the site Historic Spanish Town Square - Kings Houseof the Old Spanish Hall of Audience. The Hall was demolished in 1761 to make room for the new mansion. This building formed the first unit of the civic square designed in the then popular Georgian style.

In 1838, the proclamation of the abolition of slavery was read from the steps of King's House. The structure was destroyed by fire in 1925 leaving only the main eastern facade and the stables.

Old House of Assembly

This two storey brick structure was constructed around 1762. The House of Assembly was the scene of many bitter debates and struggles between the Governors and the members of the Assembly.Historic Spanish Town Square - The Old House of Assembly

The Assembly Chamber was used occasionally to host balls to honour celebrities. In 1838 for example, the Assembly Chamber was used to host a ball in honour of Sir Henry Bartley on his arrival in Jamaica as Governor.

When the capital of the island was transferred to Kingston in 1872, the Assembly met at Headquarters House in Kingston. After this date, the Old House o f Assembly was used for several purposes. The structure now houses the offices and Mayor's Parlour of the St. Catherine Parish Council.

Rodney's Memorial

This elaborate edifice was created in honour of the celebrated British Admiral Lord Rodney. Historic Spanish Town Square - Rodney's MemorialThe Memorial, designed by the famous English sculptor John Bacon in 1801, commemorates Rodney's victory over a French fleet that had attempted to invade the island in 1782. Rodney is made to resemble a Roman Emperor.

A tavern dating from the time of the Spanish occupation, which is said to have also been where the mules and horses belonging to the Governor were tethered was demolished to make way for the statue.

Old Court House

This Georgian building on the south side was the last unit built to complete the Square. It was erected in 1819 at a cost of 15, 700 pounds. The site was originally a cemetery and later a Chapel. It was then altered to form an arsenal for small arms. This structure was eventually destroyed and the Court House was then erected on the site. The upper level of the building was used as a Town Hall.

In 1986, the Court House was destroyed by fire.

Contact Information

  • Name: Historic Spanish Town Square
  • Company: Jamaica Natinal Heritage Trust
  • Address: 79 Duke Street Kingston
  • Phone: (876) 9221287- 8, 922-3990
  • Fax:(876) 967-1703
  • Email:
  • Website:



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