History of Government House
Government House stands on 33 acres on Langton Hill overlooking the North Shore in the Parish of Pembroke. It was built in 1892, replacing an earlier Governor's residence called Mount Langton, after a Scottish estate belonging to Sir James Cockburn, Governor of Bermuda from 1814-1816. The architect, William Cardy Hallet, designed the new Government House in the Italianate style which romanticized the revival of the villas of Tuscany and Umbria characterized by square towers and asymmetrical plans.
The House today includes a large drawing room and dining room for formal entertaining, both of which open onto a long enclosed glass sun terrace overlooking the pool and garden. These rooms make it versatile and flexible for entertaining large or small groups all year around and provide the perfect space with plenty of light to display many works of art, antique furniture and sculpture. All the paintings are of Bermudian images by artists living on the Island or those visiting its shores over the years. The Collection continues through the corridors and upstairs in The Royal Suite and the private quarters of the Governor and his wife which overlook the North Shore towards Dockyard and the 4 guest bedrooms whose verandah offers a good view of Hamilton. Some of the artwork is part of the Government Collection having been donated by individuals or by the National Trust. The rest is on loan from Masterworks Foundation and local artists and these are always changing.
The gardens are maintained by the Parks Department. They consist of a kitchen garden, citrus grove, and banana plantation; self-generating forests; meadows and numerous small quarries planted out or covered in wild flowers, paw paw and palms. Three children’s kitchen gardens for the local primary schools were started in the grounds of Government House by Mrs Fergusson shortly after her arrival in Bermuda. Horses used to be kept in the paddock and exercised on what is now a large open green meadow. There are three terraces with herbaceous borders and a rose garden. Many ceremonial trees have been planted by members of the Royal Family, Prime Ministers, Presidents, Cabinet Ministers, Governors and First Ladies.
As the largest open green area in the Parish, it has fine examples of every endemic and native species of vegetation that existed before man inhabited the Island. These are crucial to ward off erosion and wind damage from tropical storms, hurricanes and winter gales. Much of the Island in the last 50 years has seen the spread of invasives which threaten the survival of these plants and there has been a concerted effort to eliminate these shrubs and trees. A blue bird trail of 20 nesting boxes has always been a feature of the garden which attracts hundreds of migrating and native birds year round.
Government House is not only an official residence but also a working office for over 20 people employed as executive, secretarial and domestic staff for the Governor and the Deputy Governor. As a stunningly beautiful landmark, it is very visible from the road or water with its off-white stone towers and arches. Bermuda is an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom and enjoys a high degree of self government. The Governor's flag is a Union Jack with the Bermuda arms on a white disc encircled by a green garland. It is in a direct line to the flag pole of the Bermuda Maritime Museum, the former site of the British Naval Dockyard on the most Westerly point of the Island. And those who live and work in the House enjoy a panoramic view of much of the Island and the boat traffic from St. George's to Dockyard or Hamilton Harbour as the deep channel passes just below the House on the North Shore.