Wed | Aug 5, 2020

Dream House | Edinburgh Castle: The residential icon of ‘yesteryear’

Published:Sunday | January 12, 2020 | 12:00 AM
Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, built in the 12th century, which inspired the castle in St Ann.
One of two sinkholes on the haunted property.
The Edinburgh Castle, a house of unspeakable horrors once stood here - now in ruins.
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This historic great house has been regrettably lost to time. It no longer exists – reduced to mostly rubble and distant memory.

Known as Edinburgh Castle, its past weaves a frightening story of complete horror visited upon it by its diabolical original owner, whose bizarre plantation became the bloody graveyard of the innocent and the trusting.

His name (feared by one and all), was Lewis Hutchinson, alias ‘Mad Doctor’, a supposed medical doctor – Jamaica’s first recorded serial killer, and its most prolific. He was born in Scotland in 1733 and arrived in Jamaica as an estate manager in the 1760s, with white people shortly thereafter beginning to mysteriously disappear!

In 1770, he constructed this stone structure in an uninhabited area on top of a hill with views of the valley, in Pedro District, St Ann; some eight miles southwest of Claremont.

It had two circular towers anchored diagonally at opposite corners of its square shape with loopholes (narrow slits in the walls for firing on enemies), common in medieval castle architecture.

It was from this vantage point that the psychopathic Hutchinson would shoot and kill unsuspecting passersby and rob them of their precious valuables. He would also sadistically enjoy the company of his guests at the house and then torture and brutally murder them. Thereafter, in both cases, cutting off the limbs from their bodies and drinking the blood in sheer thrill and delight.

He then proceeded to make his scared slaves throw the gruesome remains of the victims down a nearby 322-foot sinkhole on the property, known as Hutchinson’s Hole. To this day, their ghostly screams can still be chillingly heard.

As fate would have it, his long-awaited demise and reign of unspeakable terror came to an end when he killed an English soldier who tried to bring him to justice, as others in authority were afraid to.

It would take the British Royal Navy under the able command of the famous Admiral Rodney to bring Hutchinson in, as he had escaped to Old Harbour and boarded a vessel that had set sail. He jumped overboard to flee imminent capture, but his bright red hair in the water stood out and gave him away.

On March 16, 1773, the infamous Lewis Hutchinson, at the age of 40, was hanged in Spanish Town Square. The final death count of his victims were never tabulated, but a search of the castle revealed 43 watches and a lot of clothes. The records of his trial are in the national archives.

The haunted property changed ownership several times: purchased by John Lewis in 1818; Bernard Ralph in 1840; Onfry Thomas in 1920; H. Headway in 1930; and W. Conron in 1944. It is now a protected National Heritage site for the benefit of Jamaica, through Jamaica National Heritage Trust.

Believe it, there is a 2012 action-adventure video game published and released worldwide for PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows and X Box 360 called Assassins Creed III, where action takes place in our own Edinburgh Castle, with its menacing history which I have just shared.

In 2010, the World Heritage Unit was approached for the aesthetic development of the historical site. The area was dangerous to traverse because of the surface conditions. There was no location directional signs and vehicle access was prohibitive. A plan was devised for lighting, gazebos, bathrooms, landscaping, walkways, parking, signage and storyboards.

As for the 18th-century house itself, sorry, we will never again be able to venture inside, vanished forever from the face of the land and the soul of a nation.

Let’s insist that the residential icons of yesteryear remain with us tomorrow – so that the future may learn from the past.

Barry Rattray is a dream house designer and builder. Email barry-rattray@hotmail.com. Do you want us to feature your dream house? Email: editorial@gleanerjm.com.