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Claimed as the oldest continually occupied Anglican church in the Western Hemisphere, it was begun in 1612 in wood with a palmetto thatched room, and was almost destroyed by a hurricane in 1712. The original altar (still in use) from 1615 was recovered, and the church was rebuilt in stone in 1713. The tower was added in 1814, and the church was restored in late 19th century. The church was also used in the early days for public meetings before the State House was built.
It has marvelous cedar woodwork inside, a mahogany altar—the oldest piece of Bermudian furniture on the Island; St. George’s chalice which was presented in 1625; a 1594 Bible; Charles I silver; open cedar timber beams, beautiful hanging chandeliers and 'Hog' money found beneath the floorboards during restoration and in the vestry is displayed a silver communion service given to the church by King William III in 1697.
You can also walk through the graveyard. where you'll see many headstones, some 300 years old. There is a section in the churchyard where slaves were buried. The churchyard is shaded by a cedar tree that is said to be the island's oldest. The assassinated governor, Sir Richard Sharples, was buried here.
Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.
Nearby, the Old Rectory is open on Wednesdays. Sunday and weekday services are still held here.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Address: Duke of York Street.
We wanted to take a carriage ride while we were visiting Bermuda, and thought St. George's would be the most interesting and picturesque place. Although our cruise ship missed the port, we took a bus up and spent the day. We thought we'd missed out, though, when we saw the NCL Majesty docked and were told they'd booked all the carriages. However, one person told us to look for a man with two gray horses, as he was freelancing that day.
The man was John, the horses were Prince and Diane, and we were ready to hop back on the bus when they turned the corner and unloaded their previous passengers at King's Square. We quickly took their place and were off for a tour around this historic old town, up to Tobacco Bay, around to Fort St. Catherine's and back to the main square, with John pointing out important sites along the way. He and his son both do carriage tours, and he was very knowledgeable about the local history and current events and social issues in Bermuda (as well as where wild fennel grows along the coast). We had a great time, and our baby daughter enjoyed seeing the horses and watching John drive them.
We paid $40 total for a half-hour for four adults and a baby, as well as adding a tip for the nice ride (and I'm pretty sure we were out for more than half an hour as well!)
Written Nov 19, 2006
Address: King's Square, St. George's, Bermuda
The Sea Venture was newly built from an English shipyard and set out to bring provisions to the Virginia Colony (at Jamestown). But on 25 July 1609 the Sea Venture was caught in a fierce tempest (an early hurricane by the standards of today) off the Azores, and carried for several days by raging winds. All the passengers were sea sick and miserable. She was wrecked off the reefs of Bermuda's Discovery Bay, with no loss of life. Sir George Somers supervised the building of the 30 ton pinnace Patience while the 80 ton barque Deliverance was done by Sir Thomas Gates, both from spars and rigging of the wrecked "Sea Venture" and local cedar. Their arrival in Viriginia in 1610 saved the colony from starvation.
The replica of the Deliverance is just off King Square on Ordanance Island. We did not go aboard this boat - in 1963 it was not there.
You can tour the ship's hold to get a sense of the cramped quarters the colonists had to endure during their Atlantic Ocean crossings. Hours are 9 AM to 5 PM daily (somewhat more restricted from November to March - be sure to call first); admission is $3 for adults, $1 for children.
There are pictures of the Deliverance as it was in 1995 in my travelogue. It has now been painted an unattractive red.
Updated Nov 24, 2004
In 1876 Governor Lefroy, a great compiler of the earliest historical records of Bermuda, made sure a memorial tablet was erected in the Somers Garden, St. George's, with the following inscription:
"Near this spot was interred in the year 1610 the heart of the heroic Admiral Sir George Somers who nobly sacrificed his life to carry succor to the infant and suffering Plantation now the State of Virginia. To preserve his fame to future ages, near the scene of his memorable shipwreck of 1609, the Governor and Commander in Chief of the Colony for the time being caused this tablet to be erected, 1876"
We visited Somers Garden in 1963, and the inset shows what the plaque looked like at that time. Now, the wall that it is mounted on has been painted pink, and the plaque itself has been cleaned up.
Updated Nov 23, 2004
Address: Somer's Garden
One of the first places to visit on the square is the Visitor's Service Bureau. We saw the Deliverance replica on Ordnance Island but didn't go aboard. We did go upstairs in the Town Hall and see the slide show on Bermuda's early history called 'About St. George’s' which is shown Mondays through Saturdays at 11:15am and 3pm (small admission charge).
The town hall is near the Visitor's Service Bureau facing King's Square. It has been restored throughout with Bermuda cedar and today houses portraits of past mayors from the 19th and 20th Centuries.
Officers of the Corporation of St. George's, headed by a mayor, meet in the Town Hall, located near the Visitors Service Bureau. There are three aldermen and five common councilors. The Town Hall holds a collection of Bermuda cedar furnishings, along with photographs of previous mayors
Mon-Sat 10am-4pm for free.
Updated Jul 10, 2003
Address: 7 King's Sq
Phone: 441-235-1283 or 292-2480
A few steps behind Town Hall is the State House, built in 1620 by Governor Nathaniel Butler. It is one of Bermuda's oldest public buildings made of native limestone mortared together with lime and turtle oil, was designed in the Italianate style with a flat roof and thick walls to insulate against heat and protect against hurricanes. Until the capital of Bermuda was moved to Hamilton in 1815, the House of Assembly and Supreme Court held session here.
Today, the State House is rented each year for the lordly sum of one peppercorn to the Masonic Lodge of St. George's. Open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesdays only, except holidays. Evidently we either were not there on Wednesday, or the Old State House wasn't open when we were there in 1995.
Great pomp and majesty accompany the Peppercorn Ceremony that takes place every spring (in 2003 it was on April 21).
Written May 24, 2003
We apparently went to this museum on both visits. I have this picture of Bob going up the steps in 1963, and we also visited in 1995.
There was a tour conducted by a docent. In the home which was built around 1700 by shipwrights, using ship building technques, this museum contains an original 18th-century Bermuda kitchen, complete with utensils from that period. Other exhibits include a 300-year-old Bible, a letter from George Washington, and Native American ax heads. Some early settlers on St. David's Island were Native Americans, mainly Pequot
Admission $5 adults, $2 children under 12
Written May 17, 2003
Address: 3 Featherbed Alley
Now-adays at noon on Wednesdays (May through October) in the town's centre, you'll meet the St. George's Town Crier. In his regal red tunic, breeches, and tricorn hat, he rings his brass bell and shouts, "Oyez! Oyez!" (Hear Ye!) He then convenes a tribunal to mete out punishment to a variety of petty offenders using the stocks and whipping post.
When I was here in 1963 the stocks and whipping post -tools of 17th- and 18th-Century justice were in front of the Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Sons, Ltd. There wasn't any town crier then. If there was one in 1995, it was too late in the season for him.
Having your picture taken in the stocks is traditional and free as far as I know.
Updated May 17, 2003
Address: King's Square, St. George
We visited Ft. St. Catherine in 1963. I'm not sure how we got there, but I think our hotel was near here. We didn't visit in 1995. The website says
"One of the first projects tackled by Bermuda's first governor, Richard Moore, was the building of a fort on the spot where "those that landed on thoes partes, first set their feete." It wasn't until after the first fortification was built, that officials realised it wasn't necessary because the point is well protected by reefs.
"The fort re-opened on February 14, 2000 after a five month closure from considerable structural damage caused to below it by sea erosion in a 1999 hurricane. Features include replicas of the British Crown Jewels guarded by a replica of a Beefeater, a fascinating series of historical dioramas recently cleaned and repainted for the first time since the 1950's, a new 53 inch video screen in the theater, new mannequins in the exhibition area and George, the resident ghost."
Open 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m (Last admission 4 p.m.). Admission $5 adults, $2 children.
Updated May 17, 2003
Address: Two miles east of the town of St. George
Phone: (441) 297 1920