Sail back to the past in St George’s, Bermuda

St George's

With a name like ‘St George’s’ immediate associations of the British Isles spring to mind. These associations would be rightly placed. St George’s is located on the island of Bermuda and is commonly believed to be the third successful English settlement that exists in the Americas (after St John’s in Newfoundland and Jamestown in Virginia). St George’s is actually a historical English colonial town that has been occupied, fortified and inhabited since the early 17th Century. It would perhaps be too great a stretch to say little has changed since its establishment. However, the town is indeed one that has resisted change and apart from crucial changes to local infrastructure, St George’s today is indicative of the life style of St George’s 100 years ago. Essentially, the town is frozen in time, maintaining the period architecture of the 1600s and a pace of living from the turn of the century – the islanders themselves opt to live in this manner and actively resist modernisation.

A regression to the past may not be ideal for everyone but for anyone looking to delve into the ‘golden era’ of the English identity, St George’s may be the optimal place to do so.

(Rest assured, the hotels and holiday accommodations would of course possess all of today’s necessary amenities).

As one of the New World’s oldest settlements and the original capital of Bermuda, furnished with a league of fortifications and period residencies, it is no surprise that St George’s is listed as one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites.

St George’s has a turbulent history – the aforementioned fortifications of the town being products of the series of trials and threats it has endured – all part of a story that is perhaps stranger than fiction. Truly, the tale of St George’s in evocative of a great epic plot that would have undoubtedly resonated amidst literary history and surprisingly is overlooked amidst actual history. The original settlers were in fact on the way their way to Virginia, but when caught in a violent sea storm, the Admiral Sir George Somers and his Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Gates had to deliberately crash their ship onto a reef. The reef was on the isle of Bermuda, and although the shipwrecked survivors built two new ships from their ruined original -thus continuing their voyage to Virginia – the ‘Virginia Company’ laid claim to the island. Soon after the company sent a party of a clergyman, a governor and 60 settlers to inhabit the land, whom subsequently began erecting buildings upon the island – a precursor to the fully-fledged town that stands today. The population of Bermuda soon exploded, and during America’s colonisation, many of the inhabitants moved state-side, taking residency in several US states. Many of the fortifications on the island today however, are a hangover of Bermuda’s tricky position in America’s War of Independence and Civil War. In the former, George Washington insisted the inhabitants steal gunpowder from a military magazine (in this sense a storeroom for artillery and ammo rather than a publication). In the latter, some inhabitants were in the precarious position of supplying the confederates and supplies to the Confederation.

Although particular manoeuvres such as these may have caused coloured the town’s history but they also brought a series of historical sites such as the old State House, originating from 1620, St Peter’s Anglican Church and the St George’s Historical Society Museum. Although the town is uniquely rooted in preserving its history, it does possess several more recent establishment of note, those of which are listed below.

CHURCHILL’S

You’d be hard-pressed to name a historical figure more identified with England than St George (despite the fact that St George wasn’t English at all). One of the few winning answers however, would be Sir Winston Churchill and that is exactly whom the bastion of Britishness, St George’s, have decided to name one of their most famous establishments after. Based on the Duke of York Street in St George’s, Churchill’s is actually an emporium for alcoholic drinks and cigars. Cast your mind away from many shops dedicated to peddling cheap and sometimes unsafe booze to holiday-makers but think of somewhere that purveys an eclectic but excellent array of global wines, spirits and beers. Churchill’s is guaranteed to stock whichever rare or premium tipple you’re after and I’m sure, would be a place the great Prime Minister himself would love to frequent; after all, by his own volition he is “easily satisfied with the very best”.

ST GEORGE’S CLUB

St George's Club

St George’s Club is perhaps is the best known and arguably overall best place to stay in the town. The Club sits atop on Rose Hill and has the privilege of plentiful views of the preserved English Town. The fact that St George’s Club is the only cottage resort in the whole of Bermuda does not mean it allows itself to rest on its laurels. On the contrary, the Club is nothing less than idyllic. The club is a mere three miles from Bermuda international airport (don’t worry the air traffic is nothing like the congestion you would find in the airports of major Cities). The Club is also comprised of a set of 71 intimate cottages which come fully furnished but only provide a self-catering option. This is of little consequence considering the proximity of local shops and two excellent restaurants, not to mention that this is the type of holiday that prizes personal freedom and a laid-back pace rather than the formality of fine-dining.

St George's beach

Furthermore, the fact that such a stunning beach – complete with snorkelling facilities and breath-taking sunsets make St George’s Club a veritable haven away from home (or perhaps home – Britain – but in a heavenly environment, depending on how you look at it).

BERMUDA PERFUMERY

Bermuda perfumery

Bermuda Perfumery is a way to add an extra sense of romanticism to your visit to St George’s and is an ideal activity for couples. As both a producer and proprietor of locally made scents, a visit gives you the opportunity to engage with how perfumes are manufactured on its basest chemical level – a tour of the site also allows you to sample the Perfumery’s milieu of enchanting aromas and gives the option of purchasing any of its brand’s: ‘Lili Bermuda’ evocative scents. As the perfumery is situated in the 300-year old Bermuda National Trust Mansion, a visit is also rewarded with a stunning environment that serves as the perfect way of experiencing some of the oldest architecture in St George’s.

To experience a vestige of a time gone by, wherein traditional English culture and an ever more traditional pace of life is paramount, albeit with a more transatlantic climate, St George’s is the perfect destination.