2008 Archaeological Excavations at Saint Peter’s Church - Exciting Discoveries!

This summer the Bermuda National Trust and archaeologists from Boston University carried out a six-week excavation project centered on St. Peter’s Church in the Town of St. George World Heritage Site. The project had two aims: to document the memorials in the churchyard, and to investigate several underground chambers, searching for traces of the seventeenth century building.

Our investigation of the underground chambers revealed two exciting parts of the church’s history and provided startling finds. In the southern half of the north chamber we uncovered the coffin plate and associated human remains of Governor George James Bruere (d. 1780). Bruere was Governor of Bermuda (1764-1780, 1781) at the time of the “gunpowder plot” when, during the American Revolutionary War, gunpowder was stolen from the island and used against the British forces. In the northern half of the chamber we uncovered a coffin plate associated with human remains. Once cleaned, the inscription identified one of these as Sir Jacob Wheate, Commander of H.M.S. Cerberus, which sank off Castle Harbour after Wheate died of fever in St. George’s in 1783. The chamber to the south near the current entrance from Duke of York Street yielded a phase of the building dating from the 18 th and 19 th centuries.

Read here a Summary Report of the dig written by archaeologist Brent Fortenberry of Boston University. Also, articles about our finds have been featured in the Boston Globe, The Times and Bermuda’s own Royal Gazette.

The Bermuda National Trust would like to thank Richard Lowry, Chair of the Trust’s Archeology Committee, Excavation Director, Brent Fortenberry and all the volunteers who made this dig possible. We would also like to thank the Bank of Bermuda Foundation for sponsoring the project. Finally, we are extremely grateful for the support of the property and thank Rev. Raths and the St. Peter’s Church Vestry, Rev. Erskine Simmons at Whitehall and Kat Carr and Robin Lang at Ming House.

Bermuda Slave Registers from 1821 and 1834

The Ombudsman for Bermuda, Arlene Brock, has made available two extensive databases made from the 1821 and 1834 Slave Registers which are held in the Bermuda Archives. The original hand-written Registers were created to facilitate compensation for slave-owners when the slaves would be emancipated. They provide a unique record and valuable research tool for many people who are tracing family or community history.

The databases were developed in searchable Excel format by Dr. Virginia Bernhard of the University of St. Thomas in Houston. They set out the names of owners, the total number of slaves and sex of the owners, the names of slaves, their sex, colour and work. Sadly they do not record the ages and birth places of the slaves, which are therefore only available from the originals on microfilm in the Bermuda Archives. Dr. Bernhard wanted to make these research tools available to the public, and the Bermuda Ombudsman has done so by releasing them to the Trust and two other organisations in Bermuda. In turning these databases over to the Ombudsman, Dr. Bernhard stated: "The Slave Registers are such a treasure. I have no objection to making the databases public - this is my way of saying thank you to Bermuda ". However, she stressed: "these are academic working lists. They are not perfect - there are some gaps and spelling errors". The Archives are developing their own Slave Register database, but in the meantime the databases developed by Dr Bernhard will serve as useful tools for researchers.

Potential Special Development Order for Tucker's Point/February 04, 2011

The Bermuda National Trust is extremely shocked by the news that a pending Special Development Order (SDO) has been tabled today in Parliament slating development of pristine hills in Castle Harbour such as Paynter’s Hill and Quarry Hill, along with other undeveloped lands in the area.

We need to recognise the economic value of our precious remaining open spaces which are the very amenities that draw visitors to our unique island and we need to also recognise the value of the biodiversity in these spaces which are core to the health of our environment and our own vital health. Significantly reduced and limited areas of natural habitat survive in Bermuda and the hills of Castle Harbour are one of the few places left where diverse habitats of major and critical significance remain.

The geology of the area presents challenges that have resulted in it remaining relatively undeveloped while the rest of Bermuda was being built upon. Indirectly, this has resulted in this section of the island serving as a safe haven for numerous unique life forms, many critically endangered, in the most extensive remaining tracts of forest left that predate settlement. These areas consist of some of the last natural refuges of critically endangered flora such as the Yellowwood tree and the endemic Wild Bermuda pepper to name two.

Below these hills are globally important caves joined by extensive passageways which sustain a disproportionate amount of diverse and unique flora and fauna. In Bermuda’s caves more than 60 endemic species have been identified and due to the vulnerability of these ecosystems to threats, such as development, 25 of these species have been listed as critically endangered.

These lands are also protected by a myriad of laws which reflect the area’s nature as part of an extensive tract of open space that supports important ecology, large woodlands, recreation land and provides amenity value beyond measure. The larger the tract of undeveloped land, the more biodiversity it can sustain and to continue to fragment this area with development, as we have been advised this SDO will do, will severely degrade the habitat value of the area and Bermuda as a whole.

While the National Trust’s concerns are focused on the environmental integrity of precious remaining open spaces and the biodiversity they support, the value to our social well-being as a small island and the tourism value of such landscapes cannot be overlooked when considering national importance.

In 2010 the Bermuda National Trust received many calls from concerned members of the public and from other NGOs enquiring whether we had any knowledge of such a pending Special Development Order. We wrote to the Ministry of the Environment in October 2010 asking whether such an SDO was being considered, and have just this week sent another letter hoping for a response.

As we have said many times publicly, the Bermuda National Trust considers the involvement of the community in the planning and development processes key to successful developments so we feel strongly that public input leads to better decisions. As such, we feel that all major developments should be submitted to the Department of Planning and opened up for public comment and input.

BNT Statement on Devonshire Marsh Development/November 15, 2011

The Bermuda National Trust objected to the development application for 79 Middle Road as it does not believe that the three proposed warehouses would be sensitive to, or compatible with the environmental, visual and amenity value of the site or neighbouring undeveloped nature reserves.

Approval of this application on appeal is very concerning as the Planning Inspectorate, the Development Applications Board and the Department of Planning staff all recommended that it be refused / dismissed.

In addition, the Department of Planning and other Government technical officers consistently stated that the application provided minimal and inconsistent information and as a result was not complete enough to be properly assessed.

Devonshire Marsh is a vitally important wetland habitat on top of Bermuda’s largest aquifer. Instead of intensifying industrial development within the marsh, the Bermuda National Trust feels that it would be in everyone’s benefit if all efforts be made toward enforcing Bermuda’s existing environmental legislation and policies, to stop creeping encroachment and degradation of scarce open space.

This matter highlights, yet again, the need for a comprehensive national plan that incorporates the appropriate placement of industrial and commercial activities on Bermuda’s landscape in such a manner that supports the existing national plan to conserve our unique environment and community green spaces.

Lt. Col. William K. White President of the Bermuda National Trust

NOTICE - Springfield closed to the public - August 1st, 2013 until further notice.

Please be advised that from August 1st, 2013 Springfield will be closed to public access. This is to allow for much needed repairs and maintenance to be carried out. Also, as a safety precaution, the Anita Wingate Nature Trail trough the Gilbert Nature Reserve will only be accessible from Middle Road and the Railway Trail and NOT from the grounds of Springfield.

We will be sure to post updates of our progress regularly.

Preservation is important. Please support the Bermuda National Trust and help us save and protect this irreplaceable site.

The Bermuda Williamsburg Connection Tour 2013

Members of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation enjoyed five days of historical tours organised by Bermuda National Trust in early December. The extensive itinerary took guests to major cultural heritage points of interest throughout the island. Peter Frith and Tim Rogers provided informative and engaging tours and lectures at Verdmont, Fort Scaur, Tucker House and Dockyard. Rick Spurling set the stage for life in the early seventeen hundreds at Carter House dressed as Sir George Somers. The tours included visits to beautiful private homes where guests enjoyed tea or dinner and insightful conversations about the history of the homes and occupiers. Real treats for the guests were the festive Christmas Walkabout in St. George’s and the Christmas Boat Parade and fireworks in Hamilton Harbour.

Another five day visit with a similar itinerary was organised for Members of The American National Trust for Historic Preservation. This trip, titled Bermuda Homes and Gardens Tour, included tours of historic sites, the Botanical Gardens, Hamilton and visits to private homes and gardens. Guests enjoyed a delightful cocktail cruise, the beautiful candlelit houses during the St. George’s Walkabout and the Christmas Boat Parade.

Bermuda National Trust Community Garden in Warwick - Allotments available

The Bermuda National Trust Community Garden is at Tivoli in Warwick. Located off Middle Road and adjacent to Warwick Lanes Bowling Alley, the garden has 20 allotments for local residents and organisations to come together to cultivate food, socialise and exchange local horticultural knowledge.

Gardening and horticulture have long been a part of the island’s history and, although in decline in more recent times, there is a renewed interest and demand for gardens and allotments as residents become more aware of Bermuda’s global impact, as food prices continue to increase and as consciousness grows of the personal benefits of gardening and cultivating our own food.

Allotments are available to National Trust members. Don’t worry if you are not a member, simply follow the link to the online application. Membership forms are also available at our offices located at Waterville, 2 Pomander Road in Paget.

The rent for an allotment is $80 per year. To be considered for an allotment, an application form is available here and at our offices. Please complete a form and either drop it off or email it to palmetto@bnt.bm

For all other questions, please feel free to contact us by emailing palmetto@bnt.bm or by calling our Conservation Officer at 236 6483.

Under Threat - Ewing Street Median

In early July, the President of the National Trust, William White, wrote to Mayor of Hamilton asking that the Corporation reconsider removing the tree-lined median that runs along Ewing Street in Hamilton.

This was in reaction to concerned individuals that live and work in the Ewing Street area appealing to the Trust over the felling of three mature French Oak trees and requesting help to prevent plans for the removal of the street’s entire stand of trees. The residents assure us that the road is more than sufficient for its residential zoning under the City of Hamilton Plan 2001 in that it is wide enough for domestic vehicles and ambulances etc.

We believe that apart from diminishing the street’s attractiveness and further urbanising the City, removing the median will undoubtedly facilitate its use by heavy vehicles severely impacting its residential character.

The Bermuda National Trust appreciates that these trees are not protected and are not in a designated historic area but we strongly believe that it would a shame for these trees and feature to be lost, especially considering that this is such a unique streetscape to the City of Hamilton.

National Trust Saddened about Appeal Decision Queen of the East/August 5, 2014

The Bermuda National Trust is dismayed that in July 2014 the go ahead was given to demolish the Queen of the East on Appeal to the Minister of Home Affairs.

Since being listed for sale for $1.95 million in May 2011, as a potential site for a four or five-storey office/residential building, the Bermuda National Trust has continued to tirelessly look for ways to save the present building on the property, the Queen of the East, and champion its conservation.

The Trust fully appreciates that for countless commuters on their way in and out of Hamilton each day on Crow Lane, the Queen of the East appears to be an unsightly derelict building, but we can promise that on closer inspection the structure reveals that it was once a Bermuda showplace, dating from the mid 1700s, and despite its condition today, remains one of the island’s most architecturally significant historic buildings. Sadly, over the last two decades the Queen of the East was left unoccupied and derelict, causing it to deteriorate.

We were shocked in 2007 when the Grade I listed status of the building was removed, leaving it without any protection from demolition, especially since just a decade earlier it was recognised as being of such exceptional interest and architectural and historical value that it should be preserved. The Bermuda National Trust is confident that, while in significant disrepair, the building is sound and salvageable and that the necessary repairs to the structure are achievable.

Despite the current difficult economic times, the Trust DOES NOT accept that this remarkable building is without a viable future on the edge of Hamilton and believes it would be a tragedy for it to be demolished. We have explored the feasibility of finding external assistance through partnering with other organisations to determine if we could raise the necessary funds to save the building for the benefit of all Bermuda. In that vein, we approached the seller of the property, but so far have been unsuccessful.The Trust would like to appeal to any potential purchasers of the property to please consider saving the building, we guarantee that it would serve as a true asset.

The Bermuda National Trust believes the Queen of the East can be saved and cannot stress enough how important this building is to Bermuda. It is extremely sad to see it in its current state as the building demonstrates the grace and sympathy of old Bermuda architecture at its best."


Built in the 1740s, the Queen of the East epitomises Bermudian 18th century architecture and remains the least altered of all the original buildings along the historic Foot of the Lane waterfront. It is extraordinary that it survives relatively intact today. Built at a time when St George’s was Bermuda’s only town (generations before the City of Hamilton was established), small ports like the one at the Foot of the Lane existed elsewhere as hubs for business and social activity. In its day the Queen of the East was a substantial merchant house and a major feature of this 18th century port.

The architecture is representative of Bermuda’s early history: built into the hillside, with living quarters above and warehouse below, accessible by water, high tray ceilings, windows under the eaves, thick cedar beams, and large chimneys at either end of the long rooms.

The house’s use varied and, following the establishment and growth of the City of Hamilton, it served as a bakery, laundry and even a brothel, its current name a reference to scandalous activities which took place to the east of Hamilton. Bayfield Clark, an eminent architect, rented and restored the house in the 1940s and during his tenure the property was a Bermudian showplace.

Moonray Manor – Bishop Spencer School

If you have driven along East Broadway this week, you would have noticed construction work has begun at the Grade III listed Moonray Manor.

The Bermuda National Trust reviewed the planning application and is pleased that the old school house section of the building will be saved. For a long time the Trust feared that it would one day deteriorate beyond repair. Previous changes and additions to the old building were not sympathetic and we are glad that some of these are being removed while the original features are being repaired. But we have expressed to the owner our concern about the impact of proposed floor-level French windows/doors which would detract from the old section’s identifiableness as a Bishop Spencer School.

On the matter of Bishop Spencer Schools the National Trust would like to draw attention again to another surviving early school house in Warwick. This is the little building used as a storehouse opposite the former White’s Supermarket. It is the best surviving example of what are known as the Bishop Spencer schools. These were erected in Bermuda immediately following emancipation (1834) by the Anglican Church for the education of black children. It continued to be used as a school up until at least the 1950s and is very dear to the hearts of many Bermudians. It is listed as a Grade I building which recognises that it has survived in essentially its original condition. It is a typical one-roomed schoolhouse of the period and is in need of some preventative maintenance.

The Trust would be willing to help the new owners if we can and hope that its heritage value is kept in mind when assessing future options for this historic Bermuda Landmark.