Officers' Quarters at English Camp

Black and white photograph of a Victorian family sitting on the steps of an ivy covered cottage.
This historic photo shows the Officers' Quarters as they looked during William Delacombe's time

Quick Facts
Friday Harbor, WA
Residence of English Camp Commanders

Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits

Construction started in October of 1860 for the first Officers’ Quarters at English Camp. Commanders chose hillside residences for their good view and separation from the rest of the company, a feature which replicated the class stratification of Victorian society. Making this spot livable required intense labor. Soldiers had to dig out the terraces, excavating rocks and dirt, to make areas large enough to fit houses and outbuildings. Rocks, and clam shells from the nearby midden, were then used to level out the earth and construct walls.

The first resident of the original Officers’ Quarters was George Bazalgette. He was a consistent leader and kept the peace between his camp and American Camp. He even was quite friendly with American leader George Pickett. Unlike the soldiers at American Camp who were often under provisioned due to their isolation from US supply lines, the Royal Marines enjoyed a comfortable stay on the island due in large part to their close proximity to the Esquimault Naval Base. They were provided with plenty of food and recreational activities including a billiard room, library, and extensive gardens.

Bazalgette’s time on San Juan Island came to a close in 1867, after a disagreement between him and the American commander of the time, Thomas Grey. During a Christmastime visit to American Camp, Bazalgette noticed a British marine who had deserted his company. To add insult to injury, former bulger George Hughes was now a US soldier! Bazalgette requested for Hughes to be returned to his company, but Grey was offended and refused. Even though the two commanders were in conflict, the matter was resolved in a peaceful, civil, and bureaucratic manner. Ultimately, it resulted in Bazalgette’s superior removing him from the post. Richard Temple-Grenville, the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos and Lord President of the Privy Council wrote:

“His Grace considers it necessary therefore to draw the serious attention of their Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to the case in order that they may direct such instructions to be sent to Captain Bazalgette as they may deem fit to prevent reoccurrence of any similar proceedings.”

After the Hughes incident, Bazalgette returned to England, and William Addis Delacombe took command of English Camp. When Delacombe arrived, the Officers' Quarters were worse for wear. He was advised to repair or rebuild entirely; the building was not fit to withstand another winter. He submitted plans for a new, five room cottage. Delacombe had his wife and several children with him, so he needed the space. This large home would cost around $2,000 and was 150 feet behind the old quarters. He also built a nearby home for his lieutenant for $1,500.

With the new Officers’ Quarters finished, Lieutenant S. Eardly-Wilmot described English Camp as follows:

“The English camp is picturesquely situated at the head of a beautiful little land-locked harbour. The officers’ quarters—neat wooden buildings—are on the slope of a hill surrounded by gardens. The commander’s house is about 200 feet higher up: a well constructed building, with offices complete and a well-filled garden, while an extensive forest close to it is an inexhaustible resource for timber and fuel.”

Delacombe left the island in 1872. By that time, San Juan Islands had been ruled American territory by Kaiser Wilhelm I, so joint military occupation was no longer needed. With the military gone, English immigrant William Crook claimed this land. Along with his family (especially his son James), he took care of the Officers’ quarters along with the rest of English Camp. At some point, however, the Officers’ Quarters were lost to fire, as were many of the buildings at English Camp. Today, you can climb the terrace to the Officers’ Quarters and get a sense of what life was like there for the Crooks and the high-ranking members of English Camp.

San Juan Island National Historical Park

Last updated: July 28, 2022