Settled since 1609 by voyagers from England and claimed by the Crown since then, Bermuda is a mix of cultures still retaining the distinctive touch of the British Empire. Although friends advised me to wait until warmer weather, I was ready for a trip to this island 995 miles from the shores of South Carolina. (left, Royal Dockyard)
It was interesting to me that the limestone blocks from which the buildings and walls on either side of many roads resemble the “tabby” from which many buildings in Savannah Georgia are built. They contain bits of coral and it turns out that Bermuda is the northernmost limit for coral growth. And yes, I spent time studying the information presented in the natural history museums of the island!
Speaking of native materials, I got to stay in an inn built in the late 18th C not only of the limestone blocks, but finished on the interior with cedar, once native to the island and destroyed by a blight in the 1940’s.
The blocks used in constructing buildings are covered with stucco and painted either bright pinks, yellows, blues and greens or pinkish-brown.(St. George's Town Hall, right)
The roofs are all white because drinking water is a concern. Bermuda is set upon porous limestone and wells often yielded brackish or salt water. Early settlers soon came up with idea of paving hillsides to collect the running water as well as to shape their roofs to funnel the water from them into cisterns. The roofs are fashioned in step-like sloped surfaces with gutter ridges funneling water toward pipes leading to an underground tank. These are made of limestone blocks and sliced into individual slates after which several layers of cement wash and the roof is finished with whitewash. I went behind the cottage where I was staying and took a picture of the water tank. And to the left is the boathouse where you can clearly see the roof and a hose attached in back.
The town of St. Georges, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, is full of early buildings, the most spectacular of which is St. Peter’s Chapell, est. 1612. The interior is of glowing cedar, and it is set high upon a hill (Bermuda is a very hilly place, probably due to its volcanic origins).
Another interesting factoid is that there are no chain stores on the island (except for 1 fast food place in Hamilton built before the laws were changed). The shops along Front St. in Hamilton are very traditional, but I discovered that if you follow between some buildings, a small 3 level mall snakes along behind and between some buildings. Even the fast food shops are local there.
One can travel by bus the length of the island, or by my favorite means, the ferries (unless the waves are too choppy). And when it's not windy, you can stand on the dock and look down through the clear water of Hamilton Sound and see the beautiful sea life.
Brought to you by Carolyn Roland, Your Older and Historic Homes Resource in Delaware and Southern Chester County, Pennsylvania.