This article was taken from our archives. It first appeared in our Fall 2006 issue. It appears here as it did originally. 

What could be sweeter than giving a present to your country and countrymen by wrapping up a parcel of land? With so little open space left on this tiny island – not even golf courses seem safe from developers’ covetous clutches – The Bermudian celebrates those who recognise the need to leave something, anything, even the smallest green space, for nature and the nurture of future generations. To the six donors we feature in this series, and the numerous others whose foresight and generosity will go on forever, we salute you.

The Butterfield Nature Reserves serve as an urban retreat, located only five minutes outside Hamilton, the island’s capital city. Situated in Point Shares, Pembroke, the property was donated to the Bermuda National Trust (BNT) by the late Dudley Butterfield and his wife, Deborah.

The plots were donated separately; they total 2.617 acres. The first was given in February 1981; the second, three years later. Additional lots were donated in 2000 and 2003, the more recent a gift from Butterfield and his sister, Lady Tibbits.

“Some of the land he’d inherited, and some he bought and gave,” says Butterfield’s daughter, Peggy Couper. “It really enhances the value of all the houses in the area—they will always have these lovely open spaces. Basically, he just wanted to preserve green space, and he had the ability to do it.

“I think it’s absolutely wonderful. When he first did it, friends of mine would stop me and ask, ‘Aren’t you mad?’ I said, ‘Are you serious? It’s the best thing that could happen. It protects green spaces for everybody in the neighbourhood. Everybody benefits if we have green spaces.’”

The property includes a tennis court and open land. Zoned agricultural and woodland, the garden boasts rare Bermuda sedge and a palmetto forest.

Ironically, the second donation was one Couper had begged her father to make years earlier.

“I was living in Montreal in the late sixties, and I was a member of Society to Overcome Pollution, an environmental group known as STOP,” she says. “The issues of conservation and pollution were very avant-garde at the time—people never thought we’d run out of space and air. Now, of course, it’s de rigueur to be a conservationist. Lots more are getting on the bandwagon.

“I wrote a letter to him and his sister, my aunt Mary, which was pretty feisty of me considering I was still in my twenties. And when I first got back to Bermuda in the early seventies, I visited him in his office—coincidentally my aunt was visiting the island at the time—and I begged them not to sell the land, to give it to the National Trust. Both of them denied me the request.”

Having donated the first parcel to the BNT, Butterfield sold the adjacent piece of land his daughter had begged him to keep. He repurchased the property only a short while later, however, shocked into doing so by the new owner’s plans to build on the site.

“He sold the land, saw the bulldozer preparing to dig out the old woodland and thought, no way. He wanted to save property for open space,” explains Couper. “He bought it back and gave it to the National Trust. He was horrified when he realised what he’d done. He lost a bit of money, but not a whole lot when you consider the importance of land in Bermuda. He wanted to make sure all the areas were not just developed, and our family is happy about it. I don’t know where [his interest in preservation] comes from. He really wanted to see green spaces here, not just an area surrounded by houses.”

Aside from its value as open space, the tract of land is distinctive for two reasons, Couper explains. “The parcel of land opposite the tennis court has a very unusual grass called sedge. There’s not much around the island. [Conservationist] David Wingate was quite excited to find it. The land also has an old palmetto forest.”

She adds that she hopes her father’s efforts encourage others to think similarly about the need for preservation. “I think people have to learn to live in closer communities and allow green space,” she says. “I’ve always been very conscious of the need for conservation and the need to protect the environment, and we’ve passed that on to our kids. They have made it very clear that we’re not to subdivide our property.”


Bee Hive Farm Nature Reserve, St Dav.David L.White 19910.06
Butterfield Nature Reserves, Point Shares, Pem. Mr and Mrs Dudley Butterfield (this jointly with Lady Tibbits} 1981, 19842000, 20032.59
Chaplin O’Neill Nature Reserve, Harbour Rd, War.Lady Oona O’Neill Chaplin19890.56
Davenport Cottage, Water St, St Geo.Dr. Raymond Spurling20000.05
Devonshire Marsh Nature Reserves, Dev.Estate of Hereward T. Watlington198410.1
Elm Lodge, Harbour Road, War.Donated by David WingateIn transfer 6
Edmund Gibbons Nature Reserve, South Rd, Dev. Sir David and E. Graham Gibbons19763.16
Gladys Morrell Nature Reserve, East Side Rd, Sandys Sandy’s Chapter of I.O.D.E19732.1
HT. North Nature Reserves, Judkin Lane, Ham. ParishPartially donated by Jean Outerbridge and Catherine Burnett1975, 19814.52
I.W. Hughes Nature Reserve, Walsingham, Ham. Parish The heirs of Idwal Hughes19821.3
Locust Hall Farm, Middle Road, DevMainly donated by the children 1989 of Edmund and Winifred Gibbons – Patsy Phillips, E. Graham Gibbons, and Sir David Gibbons1989 24
Manrgoville, Arrowroot Lane, Ham. ParishBequest by the Natalie North Estate 20032.75
Marjorie Jackson Nature Reserve, Westside Rd, Sandys Bequest by Marjorie Jackson20010.5
Padella Cottage, Westside Road SandysBequest by Marjorie Jackson20010.15
Palm and Morgans Islands, Elys Harbour, Sandys Ingersoll Family19834.15
Palmetto House, DevonshireHereward T. Watlington 19552.37
Pembroke Hall, Pem.The daughters of Col. Thomas Dill, Frances Moore, Dianna Darrid and Ruth Crocker19811.35
Rebecca Middleton Nature Reserve, PagetMr and Mrs Walter Cook20060.4
Rogue Island, St Geo. Sir Richard Gorham, The Grace Brooks Trust, Berry Kitson, Joan Wilkie and Lillis Stockwell 19790.2
S-Hill Reserve, Ord Road, War.Adrianna Goodfellow 19920.25
Saltus Island, Pem.Richard Aeschliman19783.19
Scaur Lodge, SandysCharles Stewart Mott Foundation19766.06
Ships Inn, War.Adrianna Goodfellow and Shirley Mulder 19922.23
Land on Smith’s Island Kitson and Spurling Families199528
Spinal Pond, Smith’s Part. donated by Henry Wilkinson197023.54
Stokes’ Point, St GeoPartially donated by bequest from Ms Nea Smith 19898.37
Tivoli, War.Bequest from Gloria Higgs 198411.26
Warwick Pond, War. Dennis Sherwin/Bda Heritage Trust19879.32
Waterville, PagetKenneth F. Trimingham 19621.2
Wilkinson Nature Reserve, Ham. ParishMrs Bernard Wilkinson 19820.58

Note: The above table excludes land and buildings purchased outright by the Bermuda National Trust and its predecessor, Bermuda Historic Monuments Trust. It also excludes the Trust’s historic military cemeteries and private burial grounds.