Camden House, the official residence of Bermuda’s Premier, is an 18th century Georgian building situated in the centre of the Bermuda Botanical Gardens.
It is not the home of the Premier, however, who lives somewhere else on the Island, and is used for Bermuda Government functions and other events. The Carol Service in December is one of the popular functions that take place in the gardens at the front of the Camden House. There is also a vegetable garden at the back of the house.
The Government-owned building is open to the public on Tuesdays and Fridays between 12pm and 2pm and admission is free. Some of the outside features like the veranda, the porch and the bow windows of the dining-room and drawing-room were added by Henry James Tucker who bought the house in 1823. He was Mayor of Hamilton between 1851 and 1870. He built an arrowroot factory at the back which now is used by the Masterworks Foundation. Camden House stayed in the Tucker family until 1965 before being sold to the Government, becoming an extension of the Botanical Gardens.
The front hall features a cedar staircase and a freehand blown glass light, as well as one of the items on permanent loan from the National Trust: a Bermuda cedar chest with cabriole legs dating from the 1750’s. The carved cedar panelling in the hall and the dining-room, and the furniture of the dining-room are from the 1800’s and are said to have taken 30 years to complete.
There are many antique furnitures in Camden House, mainly made of Bermuda cedar, some original and some reproduced by modern local craftsmen including panels of bird’s-eye cedar, the dining-room table, chairs and serving plates, window surrounds and ceiling moulding and a William and Mary cushion mirror.
On the way to the first floor you can admire the portraits of five former Premiers and on the landing is a carved walnut chest from the Italian Renaissance. The study is filled with cedar bookshelves and in the gallery is a Regency rosewood pedestal table with a large silver epergne on top.
The drawing room, opposite the gallery, has a magnificent Waterford crystal chandelier, as well as a Sheraton console table and a cedar chest dating from the second part of the 1700’s. On each side of the room are Adam-style fireplaces with columns.
Camden House is a great example of casual elegance and has received many political dignitaries such as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, former US Secretary of State General Colin Powell and Princess Margaret.
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