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Historic Town of St George and Related Fortifications, Bermuda

Historic Town of St George and Related Fortifications, Bermuda

The Town of St George, founded in 1612, is an outstanding example of the earliest English urban settlement in the New World. Its associated fortifications graphically illustrate the development of English military engineering from the 17th to the 20th century, being adapted to take account of the development of artillery over this period.

Ville historique de St George et les fortifications associées, aux Bermudes

Fondée en 1612, la ville de St George est un exemple exceptionnel des établissements urbains anglais les plus anciens du Nouveau Monde. Les fortifications associées témoignent du développement de l'ingénierie militaire anglaise du XVIIe au XXe siècle et de son adaptation, au fil du temps, à l'évolution de l'artillerie.

مدينة سان جورج التاريخية والحصون الملحقة بها في جزر البرمودا

تأسست مدينة سان جورج عام 1612 وهي نموذج فريد لأقدم المنشآت المدنية الانكليزية في العالم الجديد، اما الحصون الملحقة بها فتشهد على تطوّر الهندسة العسكرية الانكليزية من القرن السابع عشر ولغاية القرن العشرين وعلى تكيّفها مع تطور المدفعية على مر العصور.

source: UNESCO/ERI

百慕大群岛上的圣乔治镇及相关的要塞

圣乔治镇始建于1612年,是在新大陆最早的英国城市居住区的杰出典型。与此有关的要塞经过改造,考虑到了17世纪至20世纪军炮的发展,生动地阐释了这一时期英国军事防御工程的发展情况。

source: UNESCO/ERI

Исторический город Сент-Джордж и его укрепления, Бермудские острова

Город Сент-Джордж, основанный в 1612 г., – это яркий пример самых первых городских поселений англичан в Новом Свете. Его укрепления, наглядно иллюстрирующие эволюцию английской военной инженерии в XVII-XX вв., возводились с учетом развития артиллерии в тот период времени.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Ciudad histórica de Saint George y fortificaciones anejas (Bermudas)

Fundada en 1612, la ciudad de Saint George es un ejemplo excepcional de los primeros asentamientos urbanos ingleses en el Nuevo Mundo. Sus fortificaciones son un vívido ejemplo de la evolución de la ingeniería militar inglesa entre los siglos XVII y XX, así como de su adaptación a los adelantos de la artillería con el correr del tiempo.

source: UNESCO/ERI

バミューダ島の古都セント・ジョージと関連要塞群

source: NFUAJ

Historische Stad van Sint George en gerelateerde vestingwerken, Bermuda

De stad Sint George - opgericht in 1612 - is de vroegste Engelse nederzetting in de Nieuwe Wereld. De vestingwerken die erbij horen illustreren de ontwikkeling van de Engelse militaire technologie van de 17e tot de 20e eeuw. Ze zijn zodanig aangepast dat ze rekening houden met de ontwikkeling van de artillerie in die periode. De architectuur van Bermuda is uniek en er is weinig veranderd sinds het einde van de 17e eeuw. Zo hebben de eenvoudige huizen een of twee verdiepingen, zijn ze gebouwd met dragende muren van metselwerk, geschilderd in pastelkleuren en zijn de witgeschilderde daken van stenen platen.

Source: unesco.nl

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Historic Town of St George and Related Fortifications, Bermuda © dbking
Justification for Inscription

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.

Long Description

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.

St George is a picturesque and outstanding example of the earliest colonial English urban settlement in the New World. Its associated fortifications graphically illustrate the development of English military engineering from the 17th to 20th centuries, being adapted to take account of the development of artillery over this period. Discovered in 1505 by the Spanish captain Juan Bermudéz, Bermuda was later stocked by the Spanish as a place of refuge in cases of shipwreck. The permanent settlement of St George began in August 1612 with the arrival of a governor, a clergyman, and 60 settlers, to be joined a few months later by 600 more people. A watchtower was built on Fort George Hill and the foundations of several forts were laid to guard the entrances to St George's Harbour and Castle Harbour. The Crown assumed responsibility in 1684 for the colony, of which St George remained the capital until the mid-19th century. During this period Africans and Indians were brought to Bermuda; their descendants make up the majority of the multiracial society of today. For the next century the economy of the island centred on the cedar tree, used for ship construction.

The mid-18th century was a time of economic stagnation for the town, but military activities during the American Revolution (1776-83) saw the beginning of a boom. The Corporation of St George was formed in 1797. St George was to remain a strategic military location for the next two centuries until the US naval base closed in 1995. The economy picked up again with the development of the tourist industry in the later 19th century. The Town and its Corporation's efforts to save historic buildings began as early as 1920.

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, such as residences for senior officers, officers' messes, hospitals, a garrison chapel, etc., followed during the course of the 19th century. These were constructed in standard British military style but using local materials. At the end of the American Revolution, Britain made St George's Island its main naval base. Work on the dockyard began at the turn of the century, with drastic changes in the system of fortifications, with the construction of forts George, Victoria, St Catherine, Albert, and Cunningham (on Paget Island). The fortifications continued to serve until the coastal defence came to an end in 1956.

The architecture of Bermuda is unique, and has changed little in its basic elements since the end of the 17th century. The simple, well proportioned houses, of one or two storeys, are constructed with load-bearing masonry walls, rendered and painted in pastel colours, and roofs of stone slabs painted white. Some of the houses, such as Bridge House, the Hunter Building, or Whitehall, are impressive mansions, dating in their present form from the 19th century and embellished with imposing balconies and verandas. There are several churches, the most important of which is St Peter's Church, the oldest Anglican Church site in continuous use in the Western Hemisphere. The Ebenezer Methodist Church of 1840 is a fine building in neoclassical style.

The World Heritage site also comprises the fortifications on the Island and a number of small islands commanding access to the Town and Castle Harbour. The related fortifications, representing almost the complete range of British coastal fortifications and artillery overseas, are mostly ruined or exist as no more than archaeological sites. They are on Castle Island, Southampton Island, St David's Island, Governor's Island, Paget's Island, Ferry Island and Coney Island. On St George's Island there is Gate's Fort, Alexandra Battery, Fort Albert, Fort St Catherine. Fort Victoria is one of the few land forts at Bermuda. The town itself is defended by two forts, the Western Redoubt, Fort St George, Martello Tower, magazine, and lime-kiln built in the 1820s.

Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
Historical Description

Discovered in 1505 by the Spanish captain Juan Bermudéz, Bermuda was later stocked by the Spanish as a place of refuge in cases of shipwreck. The permanent settlement of St George (which had been claimed for the English Crown in 1609) began in August 1612 with the arrival of a governor, a clergyman, and 60 settlers, to be joined a few months later by 600 more people. A watchtower was built on Fort George Hill and the foundations of several forts were laid to guard the entrances to St George's Harbour and Castle Harbour.

By 1615 the population had shrunk to 150 as most of the colonists moved to the main island when administration of the colony passed from the Virginia Company to the Somers Island Company. The Crown assumed responsibility for the colony in 1684, of which St George remained the capital until the mid 19th century. During this period African and Indians were brought to Bermuda; their descendants make up the majority of the multi-racial society of the present day. For the next century the economy of the island was centred on the cedar tree, which was used for ship construction. Land was granted to the Town's inhabitants in 1693, and the haphazard way in which they built their houses is reflected in the present-day layout of streets and lanes. Encouragement was given to proprietors to build in stone in the early 18th century. It was at this time that wharves and warehouses were built on the waterfront.

The mid 18th century was a period of economic stagnation for the Town, but military activities during the American Revolution (1776-83) saw the beginning of a boom. St George was to remain a strategic military location for the next two centuries until the US naval base closed in 1995. The Corporation of St George was formed in 1797 and, despite of the loss of capital status, the Town continued to prosper. Free black Bermudans took on an increasingly important role: at the time of emancipation in 1834, 45% of the population were free blacks.

The four years of the American War between the States turned St George once again into a boom town. Fortunes were made when blockade runners supplied arms and ammunition to the Confederate ports, notably Wilmington (South Carolina) in exchange for cotton, for transhipment to England. The economy picked up again with the development of the tourist industry in the latter half of the 19th century. However, the Town and its Corporation were conscious of the threats that tourism offered to its heritage, and efforts to save historic buildings began as early as 1920. 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, a garrison chapel, etc, followed during the course of the 19th century. These were constructed in the standard British military style but using local materials.

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. At the end of the American Revolution, Britain made St George's Island its main naval base, to replace those lost in the Thirteen Colonies. Detachments of the Corps of Royal Engineers radically redesigned and rebuilt the existing fortifications in the 1780s and 1790s. Work began on the dockyard began at the turn of the century, necessitating further drastic changes in the system of fortifications, with the construction of Forts George, Victoria, St Catherine, Albert, and Cunningham (on Paget Island).

The advent of rifled artillery in the 1850s led to yet further modifications and strengthening. Fort Cunningham became the most heavily armed and defended fort in Bermuda. Further modifications were necessary in the 1880s to take account of the advent of gun steel, which made possible the manufacture of more efficient and reliable artillery. These continued to serve until the coastal defence came to an end in 1956. They thus span the entire range of British coastal defences over a period of three and a half centuries.

Source: Advisory Body Evaluation
Activities (1)