This is where I am today – it is nothing to do with Shakespeare and isn’t a hotel either despite the name. This is the building that holds the National Trust Confederate Museum, which in plain English, is all about what Bermuda got up to during the American Civil War.
1861, Bermuda was a quiet island with about 11,000 people, British territory. Queen Victoria called the American Civil War a ” conflict of belligerents” and declared that Britain would remain neutral. And so we did – officially.
In a nutshell, the northern states were highly industrialized and more populated while the southern states remained agricultural with a heavy reliance on slavery. Since slaves did not vote the northern states were over-represented politically and the southern states felt that the Unionist government no longer protected their ideologies and values. So in 1860 South Carolina seceded from the Union, claiming its rights as a sovereign state (sounds a bit too much like Scotland and England). The north responded by blockading the southern ports, hoping to cripple the southern economy. This would have a knock on effect for Europe and specifically England.
At that time, England obtained most of its cotton from the southern states, so had an interest in maintaining trade. This led to the need for ships that could get past the union blockades: blockade runners. (BBC did a good programme on the Robert E Lee ship in their series Clydebuilt)
So this is where the Globe Hotel comes in – it was a hotel back in 1861 and in one of the rooms the Confederate Agents set up their headquarters for the blockade running activities.
So I have found myself a gentle volunteer role manning the admissions and the Trustworthy Shop on Thursdays between 10 and 4.
It is blustery out today so lots of people have stepped inside for a moment’s respite. The 2014 calendars on special offer have almost all gone. Some visitors have been upstairs into the display rooms, one a Bermudian who said she had no idea the museum was here – I guess it takes time for the news to get around and the Trust has only been here since 1961. So if you are on the island and are wondering what to do, take a trip to St George’s and drop in. I won’t be here next Thursday, we are moving home, but someone will be here and it is really interesting.