Very appropriate that I spent today in St George’s, the oldest continuously-inhabited English town in the New World and settled 407 years ago, and three years after Admiral Sir George Somers deliberately beached the ship Sea Venture onto Bermuda’s reef’s to avoid sinking.
Now UNESCO World Heritage site, the town of St George has slowly started to come back to life, helped by regular cruise ship visits, and a couple of good eateries. There was no ship in today but many, and mostly Japanese, visitors were walking around the town’s narrow and colourful streets.
It has a way before it becomes as beautiful as somewhere like Cinque Terre, but the pastel coloured hilly streets still ask to be explored and much work is being carried out on many of the large homes such as Whitehall, for years occupied by the town’s mayors.
The main meeting place is Kings Square and on the north-west corner is the National Trust Museum. This 17th century building was constructed by Governor Samuel Day, who arrived from England. Cross over a small bridge here to Ordnance Island, where the cruise ships dock. Once upon a time it was a gun warehouse and a venue to hang prisoners.
Also here is a replica of the ship Deliverance, one of the two vessels that Sir George Somers and his men rebuilt after their ship Sea Venture got wrecked in 1609 and finally completed their journey to Jamestown in Virginia.
The Bridge House has an art gallery and the Historical Society Museum is a little treasure trove of all kinds of stuff that most people would have thrown out such as ancient buttons, bottles and bath tubs.
There’s more churches here than people. Walk up Government Hill Road to find Bermuda’s Unfinished Church. Its Gothic ruins are impressive. Construction began in 1874 after St Peter’s Church was badly damaged by a storm and was thought to be beyond repair. So that was left and the builders moved to Duke of York Street, now St. George’s main thoroughfare, and built from scratch a new church.
Now St George’s is not a day trip, but a couple of hours will do it and there are a couple of coffee/snack or lunch/dinner options. I like the minimalist cafe of Victoire at the top of Water Street, but it was shut when my Mum and I were there. So we had a pick-me-up at the Boardwalk Cafe, where the eccentricities extended to the two ladies than appeared to run it. Two restaurants that are worth visiting are Wahoo’s and The Tempest. Ask for a balcony seat at the latter.
Further afield from the main town is Tobacco Bay beach, which was full of burnt tourists and behind that is the historic St Catherine’s Fort, which closed just as we got there, and beside that the similarly named beach. This is much nicer than Tobacco Bay, but is currently closed due to the large new St Regis resort that is being built on it.
St George may not cause too much of a flutter at home, but it is still in existence in Bermuda.