Bermuda: Decorative Arts, Architecture, History

Bermuda gate leg table. Photo, Keith Adams.

The Decorative Arts Trust
Spring Symposium

March 27– 30, 2014
Bermuda
Host Hotel: The Fairmont Southampton

The Sea Venture, the flagship of nine vessels belonging to the Virginia Company on their way to supply England’s only overseas colony, Jamestown, ran into a hurricane and was separated from the others in mid-summer 1609. The sinking ship came to rest on rocks within Bermuda’s dangerous reef. All 150 people and a dog made it to shore. Thus began the English colonization of Bermuda, the ocean-centered island that became known as “the eye of all trade.”

It was administered by the Company as an extension of Virginia until 1614 when its successor, the Somers Isles Company, took over until 1684. At that time, the Company’s charter was revoked and the Crown took possession. The islands became a British colony following the 1707 unification of the parliaments of Scotland and England, which created the Kingdom of Great Britain, and today Bermuda, 640 miles west-northwest from Cape Hatteras, NC, is a British Overseas Territory.

Join us to explore historic Bermuda, its unique architecture, its elegant cedar furniture, its silver and paintings, and the intriguing discoveries of social history and culture found through extensive archaeology.



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The Symposium Schedule

Thursday, March 27, 2014
Fairmont Southampton • Gardenia Rooms

5:30 p.m. Reception and Registration
6:30 p.m.

Introductions:
Dean Failey, Trust Vice President and Moderator

Welcome from Randy Schrimsher, Decorative Arts Trust President

Welcome from Jennifer Gray, Executive Director, Bermuda National Trust

Opening Lecture:
Bermuda in the Greater Atlantic World
Dr. Edward Harris, Director, National Museum of Bermuda


View of the sea from the front of Verdmont House

 

Friday, March 28, 2014
St. George's

Founded in 1612, the Town of St. George has the distinction of being the oldest continually inhabited English settlement in the New World. It has retained much of its early street plan and many of its stone buildings, thus exemplifying the early history of overseas settlement by the British in the 1600s. Acquiring World Heritage Site status in 2000, St. George’s is a functioning town featuring a unique blend of local architecture, culture, and history.


9:00 a.m.

Depart by motor coach for St. George’s

9:45 a.m.

Arrive St. George’s World Heritage Center to enjoy a documentary of early St. George’s, introduced by its maker, Bermudian Lucinda Spurling.

Afterwards, explore the lovely town with Bermuda National Trust guides. We’ll stop in at Tucker House, c. 1750, with its magnificent collection of Tucker family silver, china and crystal, antique English mahogany, and Bermuda cedar furniture, portraits by Blackburn, and exquisite hand-sewn quilts. The artifacts chronicle the Tucker family’s connection to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, through Henry Tucker’s brother, St. George.

Guides will show us Their Majesties Chappell, St. Peter’s Church, the oldest surviving Anglican Church in continuous use outside the British Isles. The oldest parts of the current structure date to 1620.

And we’ll visit the Globe Hotel, one of Bermuda’s oldest stone buildings, built c.1700 by Governor Samuel Day. Today it tells the story of Bermuda’s role during the American Civil War.

12:30 p.m. Lunch in St. George’s
1:30 p.m.

Return to the World Heritage Center.
Bermuda and the American Revolution
The Spurling documentary filmed at Tucker House and featuring the Tucker family’s history

2:00 p.m.

The Jonathan L. Fairbanks Lecture
The Rise and Fall of a Colonial Capital
Michael J. Jarvis
Director, Smiths Island Archaeology Project
Associate Professor of History and Director of Undergraduate Studies, University of Rochester and author of the new book, In the Eye of All Trade: Bermuda, Bermudians and the Maritime Atlantic World, 1680-1783

3:30 p.m.

Depart St. George’s for St. David’s Island Historical Society

4:00 p.m.

This Historical Society site represents the first 100 years of Bermuda’s settlement: On it are a replica of a settler’s dwelling or thatched “cabben” c. 1612, and Carter House, a classic Bermuda-vernacular limestone house c. 1680-1720, believed to be one of the oldest Bermuda vernacular houses, surviving largely in its original structure and form for over 3 centuries. There will be tours, discussions, and drinks.

5:30 p.m. Depart Carter House
6:15 p.m.

Arrive Southampton, Princess Hotel
Dinner on own

Rare bannister back sidechair,
Bermuda cedar, c. 1720
Verdmont dining room


 

Saturday, March 29, 2014
Fairmont Southampton • Gardenia Rooms

 

9:00 a.m.

Bermuda’s Distinctive Architecture
Tim Rogers
Bermuda Historical Society

9:50 a.m.

Coffee Break

10:10 a.m.

Bermuda Silver and BNT Collections Paintings
Hugh Davidson
Antiquarian, Chairman of National Trust Museums Committee

11:00 a.m.

Bermuda Furniture at Home and Abroad
Keith Adams
Collector/independent scholar
New Castle, DE

12 noon

Lunch at the Fairmont Southampton

1:30 p.m.

Depart by motor coach for an afternoon visiting early Bermuda houses and collections, including Verdmont, c. 1710, a fine example of the rare transitional style, retaining some of the medieval aspects of 17th-century dwellings, while anticipating the classicism of the Georgian mansions of the 18th century. Verdmont is furnished with Bermuda cedar furniture made on the island by local cabinetmakers between 1700 and 1820. Hugh Davidson, Tim Rogers, and David Mitchell will be there to discuss Bermuda furniture, silver, art, and Bermudian architecture. Peter Frith of the Bermuda National Trust will greet us.

Continue on to gracious, historic homes with collections brought together over the generations.

5:30 p.m. Drinks with a view. Time to chat awhile and enjoy Bermuda
7:00 p.m. Depart and return to Fairmont Southampton Hotel
7:30 p.m. Arrive at hotel

Detail of base of Bermuda cedar gate leg table,
Verdmont House, Smiths, Bermuda.
c. 1710

 



Sunday, March 30, 2014
Fairmont Southampton • Gardenia Rooms


9:30 a.m.

Bermuda in the Age of Sail:
Archaeology, Architecture, and Archives
Michael J. Jarvis
Director, Smiths Island Archaeology Project
Associate Professor of History and Director of Undergraduate Studies, University of Rochester and author of In the Eye of All Trade

10:20 a.m.

Coffee break

10:40 a.m.

The Royal Navy and Bermuda Dockyard over Two Centuries
Dr. Edward Harris
Director, National Museum of Bermuda

11:30 a.m.

Summation
Matthew Thurlow
Director, The Decorative Arts Trust

12:00 noon Symposium ends

Diminutive Bermuda Cedar chest
c. 1760


Thursday Optional Tour

Bermuda Highlights: Historic Hamilton, the Underwater Exploration Institute and the Botanical Gardens
March 27, 2014


Thursday, March 27, 2014  
9:00 a.m.

Depart by coach for Hamilton.
The capital of Bermuda originated in 1790 when six commissioners purchased 145 acres for the town. It was officially incorporated in 1793 by an Act of Parliament and became the capital of Bermuda in 1815.

Accompanied by guides from the Bermuda National Trust, we will see the Church of England Cathedral and the Sessions House, home of the House of Assembly since 1821. Trust members will visit the Historical Society Museum housed in the Par-la-Ville, the former home of the Perot family, where we will see a collection of Bermudian silver dating from the 1600s and the letter George Washington wrote in 1775, addressed to the inhabitants of Bermuda, requesting gunpowder to use in the American Revolution.

We will continue on to the Bermuda National Gallery where we will see the important Hon. Hereward T. Watlington Collection of European paintings – Gainsborough, Reynolds, etc. More of his collection is at his family home, Woodside.

After lunch, Trust members will enjoy the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute, where the discoveries from dives to the many shipwrecks of the last 450 years around the reefs of Bermuda can be seen. Teddy Tucker, diver extraordinaire, has explored most of the known shipwrecks. BUEI’s International Advisory Board is engaged in innovative and cutting-edge ocean research, which contributes to BUEI’s position as an important venue through which new research and knowledge is brought to the public.

We will end the day with a stroll through the Bermuda Botanical Gardens and a visit to Camden House originally c. 1714, rebuilt c. 1811, the official residence of the Premier of Bermuda.

5:00 p.m.

Return to the Fairmont Southampton
Opening Reception at 5:30 p.m.

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Sunday Optional Tour

The Western End of the Island: National Museum of Bermuda, The Royal Navy Dockyard and Local Houses & Collections
March 30, 2014

 

Sunday, March 30, 2014  
12:30 p.m.

Depart in vans for lunch at the Gibbs Hill lighthouse, built in 1844 by the Royal Engineers on the highest site in Bermuda. The views are outstanding. The restaurant is in the historic lighthouse keeper’s house.

2:15 p.m.

Travel to the National Museum of Bermuda and the historic Royal Navy Dockyard for tours with Dr. Edward Harris, Director, and Elena Strong, Curator. Tours will include the Commissioner’s House and the exhibits of the National Museum of Bermuda.

Edward Holl, Chief Architect of the Royal Navy, designed this extraordinary Commissioner’s House in 1822 and it was completed by 1827. Like the White House in Washington DC, it was intended as a combination of private quarters, ceremonial residence, and administrative offices for a high state official – in this case, the civilian resident commissioner in overall charge of the Dockyard. Commissioner’s House was designed with cast iron instead of structural wood, and was the first residential building in history to utilize cast-iron framing. The floor framing, trusswork, and verandah pillars are iron castings fabricated in England. The British naval base at the western end of Bermuda was constructed as a direct result of the independence of the English American colonies in 1783, when the British were left without a base between Halifax and the West Indies. The British soon identified Bermuda as a strategic mid-Atlantic location where a secure anchorage for the Navy’s fleet and a dockyard, victualling yard, and ordnance depot to maintain the ships could be developed.

4:00 p.m.

Continue on to visit several private Bermuda houses with collections of interest.

7:00 p.m. Return to the Fairmont Southampton Hotel

Gibbs Hill lighthouse

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