Bodden Town (village)
History and museums
Bodden Town, Grand Cayman, is the former capital of the Cayman Islands and centre of the largest district in the Cayman Islands. It is situated on a natural harbour and a coral reef. The first settlement was named after a government leader, William Bodden. Once ravaged by pirates, this village is known for its remains of a 4 mi (6 km) wall and cannon. Bodden Town has a population of 10,341 (2010 census). Its top attractions include the Mission House, which features the lifestyle of early Caymanian settlers. Bodden Town is also considered the fastest growing district in the islands in terms of resident population.
The first town of importance on Grand Cayman, Bodden Town founded in the late 18th century and was originally known as 'South Side'. Because its natural harbour, Bodden Town was attractive to both merchant and trading ships as well as Caribbean pirates. When first visited in 1773 by George Gauld, a British Navy surveyor, the town's population was already at approximately 200—roughly half the population of the entire island. Commissioned to survey Grand Cayman Island's coastline, Gauld noted the majority of residents had the surname "Bodden", all descendants of Isaac Bodden, a soldier from Oliver Cromwell's army. Local lore states that it was at the time of Gauld's visit that South Side was renamed "Bodden Town".
For many years, Bodden Town served as the seat of Cayman Islands government. Likewise, it was the home of the Chief Magistrate of the islands, William Bodden; during his time in office between 1798 and 1823, the first roads were completed. It was also during this time period and into the mid-19th century that a jail was established and the first court on the island was held. Historical records for the island state that, "In 1839, the prisoners at Pedro Castle were transferred to the Guard House at Bodden Town."
While military fortresses had been established by the end of the 18th century in George Town and Prospect, at the beginning of the 19th century, there still was no such fortress at Bodden Town harbour.
There remains no record of a fort at Bodden Town; however, the Guard House and Gun Square had been established for militia use and provided some level of protection for the town and its residents from marauding pirates and hostile foreign military ships. Situated on rising ground, the Guard House was equipped with two small cannons and was manned at night.
No records show evidence of major attacks on Grand Cayman. As any real threat of invasion diminished with time, defences and fortresses on the islands fell victim to ruin. As of the end of the 19th century, the Guard House remains included only the two small cannons. The people of Bodden Town, however, still held their history and the site of the Guard House in high regard as a treasure from the island's past. As of 1990, the Bodden Town District Committee of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands chose to refurbish the site and create a small historic park with a replica of the guard house to stand at the entrance to the town limits.
Over time, Bodden Town lost its prominence as a centre of government and maritime activity. As the harbour became shallow from silt driven in by hurricanes, most of the trading being conducted by ship was transferred to the East End or at Hog Sty Bay in George Town.
Cayman Islands Education Department operates Bodden Town Primary School and Savannah Primary School as well as the International College of the Cayman Islands, a non-profit institution of higher learning accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools in Washington, D.C. to offer associate, bachelor's and master's degrees.
Spectator sports available in Bodden Town include the Bodden Town FC.