City and Bermuda subdivision
The Historic Town of St George and Related Fortifications, Bermuda
Location and site
Authentic and earliest example of the English colonial town in the New World. Its associated fortifications graphically illustrate the development of English military engineering from the 17th to the 20th century, adapted to take into account the development of artillery over this period. Some of these are unique as surviving examples of the first defensive works built by early European colonists, few examples of which now remain intact. The later associated forts represent an excellent example of a continuum of British coastal fortifications.
The inscribed area consists of the Town of St George on St George Island as well as fortifications on the Island and on a number of small islands commanding access to the Town and to the anchorage of Castle Harbour, at the eastern end of the Bermuda Islands in the North Atlantic. The layout of the Town is one that has grown organically over nearly four centuries. At its heart is King’s Square (or Market Square), adjacent to the harbour, and providing the link between the harbour and the two main east-west roads that connect the Town with the rest of Bermuda: Water Street, giving access to the quays, and York Street to the north, the main street of the Town. The streets to the north provide a network of what began as narrow, winding lanes and alleys. The architecture of Bermuda is unique, and has changed little in its basic elements since the end of the 17th century.
Different from other European-founded cities of the New World, St George has maintained the individually separated house for habitation, so typical of the English settlements in North America. Because of the nature of the soft limestone that continues to be used for construction, walls, including roofs, are white-washed. Buildings rarely exceed two storeys and many are only one storey in height. Since sources of water are scarce on the island, the white colour of the roofs and pitch are designed to collect rain water into cisterns through gutters and other conduits adding to the unique appearance of the Town.
Criterion (iv): The Historic Town of St George with its related fortifications is an outstanding example of a continuously occupied, fortified, colonial town dating from the early 17th century, and the oldest English town in the New World.
- Founded in 1612: The permanent settlement of St George began in August 1612.
- St George was a garrison town from its earliest days, and military installations developed on the eastern side of the Town. The first of many barracks were built on Barrack Hill in 1780, and ancillary buildings, such as residences for senior officers, officers’ messes, hospitals and a garrison chapel followed during the course of the 19th century.
- The related fortifications began in the early 17th century, with forts on Paget, Governor’s, Charles, and Castle Islands.
- These were repeatedly reconstructed and strengthened during the course of the 17th and 18th centuries.
- The existing fortifications were radically redesigned and rebuilt in the 1780s and 1790s.
- The advent of rifled artillery in the 1850s led to yet further modifications and strengthening of the fortifications.