Sunday, October 30, 2016

Day 7 - Williamsburg

October 2016 - Williamsburg VA

Colonial Williamsburg is a living-history museum and private foundation presenting part of a historic district Colonial Williamsburg's 301-acre (122 ha) Historic Area includes buildings from the eighteenth century (during part of which the city was the capital of Colonial Virginia), as well as 17th-century, 19th-century, Colonial Revival structures and more recent reconstructions. The Historic Area is an interpretation of a colonial American city, with exhibits of dozens of restored or re-created buildings related to its colonial and American Revolutionary War history.] Colonial Williamsburg's Historic Area's combination of restoration and re-creation of parts of the colonial town's three main thoroughfares and their connecting side streets attempts to suggest the atmosphere and the circumstances of 18th-century Americans. Colonial Williamsburg's motto has been "That the future may learn from the past".

Costumed employees work and dress as people did in the era, sometimes using colonial grammar and diction. 

Prominent buildings include the Raleigh Tavern, the Capitol, the Governor's Palace (all reconstructed), as well as the Courthouse, the George Wythe House, the Peyton Randolph House, the Magazine, and independently owned and functioning Bruton Parish Church (all originals). Colonial Williamsburg's portion of the Historic Area begins east of the College of William & Mary's College Yard.

She invites us to view the basket makers in the gardens of George Wythe.
The George Wythe House on Palace Green belonged to George Wythe (pronounced “with”), a leader of the patriot movement in Virginia, a delegate to the Continental Congress, and Virginia’s first signer of the Declaration of Independence. The house also served as General George Washington's headquarters just before the British siege of Yorktown, and French General Rochambeau made the home his headquarters after victory at Yorktown. In 1776, the house accommodated Virginia General Assembly delegate Thomas Jefferson and his family.

The largest birdhouse I've ever seen!

As the basket maker was quick to point out you would not have found people making baskets in the back of a house like this. She is combing the wool from a sheep to become part of a pin cushion for the holiday season. More on the sheep tomorrow.

One of the highlights was the tour of the Governor's Palace.

Governors who lived in the original palace included:
Alexander Spotswood
Hugh Drysdale
William Gooch
Robert Dinwiddie
Francis Fauquier
Norborne Berkeley, Baron de Botetourt
John Murray, fourth Earl of Dunmore
Patrick Henry
Thomas Jefferson

American history is littered with heroes and villains. Our founding fathers—Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, and Franklin,—were surely among the first American heroes, but whom were they fighting? Any good comic book has taught us superheroes need a villainous counterpart.

John Murray, the Fourth Earl of Dunmore, garners the distinction of America’s first villain. Lord Dunmore was the British Royal Governor of Virginia at the time of the American Revolution and a foremost adversary of the colonists. As a colonial governor in the mid-1770’s, Lord Dunmore would have been a controversial man due to his title alone. Lord Dunmore’s lack of diplomatic skills and drastic crisis control made him a convenient target for colonial hatred during the build up to the American Revolution, compelling Thomas Jefferson to cite his actions in the list of grievances against the British Empire in the Declaration of Independence.

John got some amazing shots inside the entrance. Our guide, Joan regaled us with stories of their most hated governor.

Joan, the docent stated that this pattern was so popular with the Queen at the time, that it was often referred to as “Queen Charlotte’s Check.”

Dunmore's daughters slept here with their tutor. I can't imagine the girls were very happy stuck out in the colonies when they were used to London and fashion and boys with titles!

Unlike her husband, Virginians had great affection for Lady Dunmore.

Lord Dunmore led a military expedition to the west against the Shawnee in the summer of 1774, leaving Lady Dunmore and the children in Williamsburg. She gave birth to a daughter on December 3rd, the day before his return. On the Queen’s birthday, January 18th, the baby was christened Virginia, in honor of the colony, and the Queen’s birth night and Lady Virginia’s christening were celebrated at a ball at the Palace the same evening.

Dining room.


Outside we wandered the grounds.

The kitchen gardens.

The cellar contains the only original part of the palace, the floor.

The deep red Peyton Randolph House is one of the oldest, most historic, and without doubt most beautiful of Colonial Williamsburg's original 18th-century homes.

The west wing of the impressive house has stood at the corner of Nicholson and North England Streets since about 1715. Among the historic figures that took shelter in the house were General Rochambeau and the Marquis de Lafayette.

Peyton Randolph was born into an eminent Virginia family and educated, in the tradition of the time, in England. He Graduated Oxford University with honors and returned to Virginia to study law. He joined the Virginia Bar and was later made Attorney General of the colony. Randolph was also a military leader in the defense of the colony against Indian attack during the French and Indian War. At the end of the war he was elected to the House of Burgesses, where he often presided. He was the House leader when Patrick Henry made his stand against the Stamp Act, and later when the House was dissolved by the governor for its resolutions against parliamentary aggression to Massachusetts. He left his seat in the House of Burgesses to attend the first Continental Congress in 1774, was elected President of the congress by unanimous vote and so became the first President of the united colonies. He was again elected President the following session but, his health failing, he resigned the office 14 days later. He resumed a seat in the congress the following September but died that October in Philadelphia.

Randolph's master bedroom.

Awesome wallpaper?!?!?

It looks like it might rain. But we visit the Magazine as they close at 4PM.

Built in 1715 by Governor Spotswood
Stored equipment necessary for protection against Indians, slave revolts, riots, and pirate raids
Dunmore ordered emptying of arsenal and disabling of the muskets
Spark of revolution ignited here
Events at Magazine in 1775 mirrored events of revolution in Massachusetts
Magazine used for multiple purposes after government moved to Richmond
Association for Preservation of Virginia Antiquities formed as a result of effort to restore Magazine

The spark that ignited the Revolution in Virginia was struck where the colony stored its gunpowder, the Magazine in the middle of Williamsburg.

The night of April 20, 1775, Lieutenant Henry Collins stole toward the capital with a squad of royal marines from H.M.S. Magdalen anchored in Burwell's Bay on the James River. Their orders, straight from Governor Dunmore, were to empty the arsenal and disable the muskets stored there.

"Tho' it was intended to have been done privately," Dunmore wrote a few days later, "Mr. Collins and his party were observed, and notice was immediately given to the Inhabitants of this Place: Drums were then sent through the City." It was early the morning of April 21 by then. The marines fled in the dark with 15 half-barrels of powder for H.M.S. Fowey anchored in the York River.

Most of Williamsburg's population gathered on Market Square, and some talked of doing Dunmore harm. Peyton Randolph, Robert Carter Nicholas, and Mayor John Dixon averted violence by persuading the crowd to send a delegation to the governor to demand an explanation. Dunmore said he had intelligence of "an intended insurrection of slaves" and only wanted to keep the powder out of its reach. Unless he viewed the angry patriots as slaves, he was lying.

It was Patrick Henry's oratory that helped the governor down this road. At St. John's Church in Richmond on March 23, Henry had risen during the Second Virginia Convention to argue for the organization of a volunteer company of cavalry or infantry in every county. His speech ended: "Give me liberty, or give me death."

We stop into a few places on our walk back.

This is the cobbler, not shoemaker as I thought from the sign.

The weaver. They use wool from their own sheep.

Leicester Longwools have a long, healthy, lustrous coat which falls in ringlets, ease of feeding, valuable meat supply and quick maturation are the sheep's breed traits. Leicester (pronounced "lester") Longwools originated in Britain and were used as a pioneer breed. Their use extended to America, Australia, New Zealand and other colonies settled by the Crown. Today they are quite rare in Britain and North America, but they can still be imported from Australia. The original herd of Colonial Williamsburg's Leicester Longwool sheep came from Tasmania, but now the sheep are bred here.

The shop.

The dressmaker.

One of the taverns open to the public for meals.

We'll be back tomorrow to finish our visit.


  1. So many very cool things to see. The weaponry is amazing. Love the shots of the kitchen too.

  2. The governor's residence particularly impresses me!

  3. Such a very resplendent looking place, Jackie! The buildings are beautiful, and so much to see and do. I saw a dovecote that size just this Summer. Wish it was still warm. :) :) Many thanks for the link again. I appreciate it.

  4. Wow what gorgeous photos, and so many things to see!! This is such a beautiful post and it has made me want to dig out my passport and travel! #MMBC

  5. What a delightful post! Love the display of swords! Didn't know someone this Fall used a historic quote this Fall "Give me freedom, or give me death!" Love, love love the weaving, spinning and the making of dresses!
    Thank you so much for sharing these details of Williamsburg with ALL SEASONS! Maybe one time I will get to it:) Have a beautiful week!

  6. Am back to ask a question. I would like to link to the meme "Whatever weather" and you list it from Wed. to Friday. But the last date it was open was the week Nov. 15 - do they open the link every two weeks?
    Thanks for writing me back:)

  7. What a great look around, I don't think I realised how much there was on the site - living history museums always fascinate me and this looks a wonderful place to learn more about colonial life. #citytripping

  8. An interesting place! I'm glad Lady Dunmore was well liked and, yes, I can imagine the children finding it rather different from London. Living museums like this are so great for learning about history. Thanks for linking to #citytripping.

  9. Wonderful shots of this amazing place!
    Thanks for linking up with the Travel Tuesday meme, hope to see you join me there again this week.


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