The East End- Our History and Heritage, by Kristin White
In May, we celebrate Heritage Month! It’s a time for residents and visitors alike to celebrate and learn about Bermuda’s history and culture. And for those looking to discover the stories of Bermuda over the last 400 years, there’s no better place to start, than right at the beginning. I’m talking about St. George’s of course! Here in Bermuda’s first capital, our museums, historic homes, forts, even our streets tell the tales of the island’s legendary past.
The World Heritage Centre should be your first stop. This museum and orientation centre explains why the Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and offers a 12-minute film called ‘A Stroll Through St. George’s.’ The interactive exhibits start with the shipwreck in 1609, talks about the settlement from 1612, and even explains what William Shakespeare and Pocahontas have in common! The building itself was built in 1860, and was a warehouse for the Confederacy during the American Civil War! (Open Wednesday and Saturdays, 10-am-4pm. FREE admission Wednesday and Saturday.)
For more on the role St. George’s played during that war, visit the Bermuda National Trust Museum at the Globe Hotel. Their ‘Rogues and Runners’ exhibit paints a sharp picture of our town filled with blockade runners, confederate soldiers, and even a southern belle or two. (Fun fact: Mark Twain had lunch here… check his name in the guest book!) The Bermuda National Trust operates another historic site in town, The Tucker House. Built in 1752, the main house showcases centuries-old furniture, china, and portraits. In the basement, you’ll find artefacts discovered from an archaeological dig. (Visit bnt.bm for opening hours of both the Tucker House and museum.)
Just across town is another historic home, Mitchell House, built in 1731 and operated by the St. George’s Historical Society. Like Tucker House, you’ll walk through this home to get a glimpse of what life was like in the 18th century for the wealthy merchants who lived here. Depending on the day, you may catch a demonstration of their original kitchen, or, in the basement, a working replica of a Gutenberg printing press. (Open Mon-Sat 10am-4pm summer hours)
No visit to St. George’s is complete without stopping into St. Peter’s Church. As the oldest Anglican Church outside the British Isles, it was given the title Their Majesties Chappel by Queen Elizabeth II. Sacred silver, a 400 year old bible, the baptism register, altar table – not to mention the Historic Churchyard with graves dating back to the 17th century. You could spend a day discovering the secrets of St. Peter’s Church. (Open Mon-Sat, 11 – 3pm. Services on Sunday 11.15am.)
Don’t miss the stories across the harbour. Three-hundred year old Carter House is now a museum preserving the one of a kind culture of the St. David’s Islanders and details their maritime history, including whaling, piloting, and boat building. (Open Tuesday, Wednesday,Thursday & Sat, 10am-4pm in the summer and Wednesday & Saturday only in the winter. (Open the first Sunday of each month with a demonstration of Palmetto weaving 2-4pm year round.)
Bermuda’s beauty is world-renowned, but many don’t realize that alongside our pink sand and blue waves is an incredible history. Be sure to experience everything our island has to offer.
ABOUT KRISTIN & SHOSHANNA: Kristin has lived in St. George’s since 2003 and developed a love affair with the town. Her store, Long Story Short is on Water Street, and from there, she offers amazing tours, bicycle rentals, custom hula hoops and a curated collection of gifts and books. Shoshanna is her bicycle, perpetual companion, and the 2018 Best of Bermuda award winner for best Bermuda character.