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Hundreds enjoy annual Peppercorn Ceremony

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Governor George Fergusson inspects the ranks of the Bermuda Regiment at the annual Peppercorn Ceremony held in King's Square, St Georges (Photo by Akil Simmons)

The strains of bagpipes echoed through the streets of St George as the town marked one of the oldest traditions in the Island’s history.

The passing of a simple, symbolic peppercorn from Freemasons Lodge treasurer Richard Moulder to Accountant General Curtis Stovell, and the accompanying pomp and ceremony, attracted hundreds of locals and visitors to King’s Square.

In brilliant sunshine, schoolchildren watched on and Regiment soldiers stood to attention as Mayor Garth Rothwell and Governor George Fergusson arrived in horse-drawn carriage to continue a ritual that dates back to 1816.

Mr Rothwell hailed the town’s historic structures and Unesco status as he welcomed the crowd gathered for the annual Peppercorn Ceremony.

“Within the town are 170 listed buildings, 10 historic monuments, six forts and one unfinished church,” he said.

“The town of St George is an original and in 2000 gained Unesco status. We need to make better use of this prestigious designation and do more to maintain our historic monuments, especially the forts and the very popular unfinished church.”

Mr Rothwell said the Corporation was focused on promoting cultural tourism in the East End, and their efforts had already begun to bear fruit.

“To the sceptics, this probably sounds like another plan to gather dust on the shelf somewhere. Not so this time.

“The lists of successful activities and events taking place in this town is now so extensive that I am only going to mention the gunpowder plot re-enactment being planned for August 14.

“This is totally aligned with the development of cultural tourism and will bring the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution to the Island.

“This has huge potential for the future. Revitalisation is well under way in the East End but we have a long way to go.”

As part of this year’s Peppercorn Ceremony, the Bermuda Regiment was given the freedom of the town to mark its 50th anniversary celebrations.

Mr Rothwell praised the Regiment for their work in the town after Hurricanes Fay and Gonzalo last year.

Regiment Commanding Officer Michael Foster-Brown thanked the town for the honour and spoke of Bermuda’s history being closely linked with the military.

Yesterday’s ceremony was attended by a host of dignitaries and politicians, including Premier Michael Dunkley and Opposition Leader Marc Bean. The Mayor of Lyme Regis — St George’s twin town — Sally Holman was also present.

Mr Fergusson applauded the town’s latest efforts to promote its heritage and history to attract new visitors through the gunpowder re-enactment and similar projects.

Although he quipped: “Taking the long view, I will overlook the unhappiness of celebrating the theft of the then Governor’s gun power.

“Please don’t let it happen again.”

A young girl presents flowers to the Margaret Fergusson, wife of Governor George Fergusson, at the Peppercorn Ceremony (Photo by Akil Simmons)
Freemasons march from State House to King's Square during the annual Peppercorn Ceremony (Photo by Akil Simmons)
Freemasons march during the annual Peppercorn Ceremony (Photo by Akil Simmons)
Premier Michael Dunkley arrives at the Peppercorn Ceremony (Photo by Akil Simmons)
Governor George Fergusson inspects the ranks of the Bermuda Regiment (Photo by Akil Simmons)
Children from St George's Preparatory School lean on barricades to get a better view of the annual Peppercorn Ceremony (Photo by Akil Simmons)
St George's Preparatory students watch the ceremony (Photo by Akil Simmons)
Harrington Sound Pimary Shool students enjoy the festivities (Photo by Akil Simmons)
Crowds of spectators gathered to watch the events