History and the British Heritage
A Brief History of Bermudian time...
Bermuda first appeared on a map as early as 1511, when it was discovered by Spanish mariner Juan de Bermudez, but the treacherous ring of coral reefs surrounding the Island ripped into the hulls of many unfortunate ships. Because of the disastrous fate of so many vessels, frightening stories of maritime travel kept seafarers away from Bermuda’s shores and it was referred to as “The Isle of Devils”.
In 1609 an English vessel named the Sea Venture was bound for the American colonies when a storm foundered the ship on the reefs beyond the east end of Bermuda. Eventually, using local cedar to build the aptly named Deliverance and Patience ships, all but two of the crew and passengers made it to Jamestown, Virginia. One traveller, Sir George Somers – the admiral of the Sea Venture – enjoyed his sojourn so much that he decided to return to Bermuda. Unfortunately his strength failed him and he died en route, but his heart was buried in Somer’s Garden while his body was shipped to his home in Lyme Regis, now St George’s sister city. Shortly after, the King of England granted a charter for the adventurers to colonize the Island in accordance with British law and soon it was claimed for the Crown of England, with the Plough bringing the first settlers in 1612.
How awfully British...
Of course, those early English settlers introduced a wealth of customs and traditions into the Bermudian lifestyle, which has led to it boasting the unusual mix of Island culture with British charm.
This heritage is very much in evidence today, from the accent - a combination of English and Caribbean inflections - to the written word, with US spellings eschewed over the Queen’s variety in newspapers and signs. Similarly, the legacy of British decorum lives on in everyday life, from the “Good Mornings” that Bermudians will greet you with as you explore the Island, to the distinctly conservative dress codes. Indeed with beachwear frowned upon everywhere except the beach and the colonial custom of jacket, tie, Bermuda shorts and knee-high socks the order of the business day for men, life here really is highly civilised indeed.
Other quaint manners not to be missed include:
- A penchant for afternoon tea in most of the hotel establishments;
- Driving on the left hand side of the road;
- A plenitude of traditional pubs, complete with dark paneled walls, dim lighting and a fine range of draughts courtesy of Bermuda’s own beer producers, North Rock Brewing Company;
- The Queen’s Birthday is a public holiday due to her being Head of State;
- A love of marking public ceremonies with pomp and circumstance, with the regimental band attending many events;
- The traditional bobby, often spotted directing traffic; and
- Full wig and black robe is the legal order of the day for official occasions.
Whoever said there’s nowhere like home?
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