Peppercorn Ceremony

Peppercorn Ceremony

Day near April 23
This ceremony has been a tradition on the island of Bermuda since 1816, when a lease to the State House in St. George (the seat of Bermuda's government from 1620-1815) was granted to the mayor, aldermen, and common council of St. George in trust by the members of the Masonic Lodge for the annual rent of one peppercorn. The date for the annual rent payment was originally December 27, the feast of St. John the Evangelist, but it was changed to the most suitable day nearest April 23, St. George's Day, in honor of the patron saint for whom the town is named.
On the day of the Peppercorn Ceremony, the governor of Bermuda arrives at the State House with great pomp in a horse-drawn carriage, is welcomed by the mayor of St. George, and receives a key to the State House for the purpose of holding a meeting of Her Majesty's Executive Council, which upholds the conditions of the lease. The rent of one peppercorn is delivered on a velvet pillow and members of the Executive Council proceed to the State House for their meeting.
The old State House building, with mortar made of turtle oil and lime, was constructed in 1619 and is believed to be the first stone building in Bermuda. Until the capital was moved to Hamilton in 1815, Parliament met there. Bermuda's Parliament is the third oldest in the world (after Iceland and England).
CONTACTS:
Bermuda Department of Tourism
675 3rd Ave., 20th Fl.
New York, NY 10017
800-223-6106 or 212-818-9800; fax: 212-983-5289
www.bermudatourism.com
SOURCES:
AnnivHol-2000, p. 67