The Cabinet Building was designed in 1837 by an officer of the Royal Engineers then serving in Bermuda.
When it was first opened in 1884, it was known as “The Public Building” and housed the Customs and Treasury Departments and the Bermuda Library on the ground floor with the Council Room and the Secretariat on the upper.
It has remained the home of the Council and the Secretariat ever since, with the exception of a period
of nine years (1969 1977) when the Executive Council was based in offices on the second floor of the General Post Office at Church and Parliament Streets.
Entering the Entrance Hall, the doors are of Bermuda cedar. Some of the cedar was given to the Cabinet Building by the Consul General of the United States and some of the cedar was from the O1d Bus Garage on East Broadway. These doors were installed in 1989, completing the renovations to the ground floor of the Cabinet Building.
There is a large portrait above the stairs, facing down into the Entrance Hall, which is that of Queen Victoria. This is a copy an original portrait which hangs in St James’ Palace, London and is on loan from the St. George’s Foundation of New York. It shows the young Queen at the beginning of her reign, shortly after her marriage to Prince Albert of Saxe Coburg-Gotha.
In the Upper Hall, over the stairs, note should be taken of the portrait of Sir Thomas Gates who was with Admiral Sir George Somers in the Sea Venture in 1609.
In the Upper-Hall, facing the stairs is a portrait of William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke; the original, painted in 1627 for King Charles I, hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London.
To the right is a portrait of Sir Edwin Sandys, a member of the Bermuda Company during the early years of colonization.
Lord Sandys, a descendant of Sir Edwin, had two copies made of the original portrait and in 1959 kindly presented one to Bermuda and the other to the House of Burgesses in Richmond, Virginia, to mark the 350th anniversary of the settling of both Bermuda and the Virginia Colony.
From the large casement window in the Upper Hall a pleasant view of Hamilton Harbour can be seen which, from April to November each year, includes cruise ships alongside Front Street.
Either side of the casement window are portraits of King George III (1760 1820) and Queen Charlotte these are believed to be the works of Allan Ramsay, Court Painter (1713 1784). It was the taxation policy of George III and his Minister, Lord North that so exasperated the North American colonists that on 4th July, 1776, they proclaimed their independence from Great Britain.
To the left of the door leading into the Senate Chamber is a portrait of Sir Francis Forbes who enjoyed a successful career in the legal profession and, moving to the Southern Hemisphere, served as a Chief Justice in New South Wales.
THE SENATE CHAMBER
When Parliament is in session, the Senate meets at 10.00 a.m. each Wednesday to discuss matters sent forward by the House of Assembly. The gallery to the left of the main entrance is for the use of the public. To the right, there is a small glass topped table. The book inside bears the signature of Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, who was present for the convening of Parliament on November 2, 1990.
Beyond, on top of the bookshelves, is a long glass case, which contains The Black Rod. This is the emblem of office carried by a senior Police Officer who, when the Governor is about to open Parliament following a General Election or a seasonal Recess, summons the elected representatives from the House of Assembly and leads them in procession to the Senate Chamber.
The Black Rod in the case was fash