Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Colonial Williamsburg, Day 5

Allow me to begin this post with two bits of advice to those that would visit Colonial Williamsburg in the future. First, buy a pass. Yes, I know you can walk about the streets of the city without a pass, but you are really only experiencing about 5% of what Colonial Williamsburg has to offer. Passes allow one to tour inside the buildings, talk to the re-enactors practicing various trades, and attend presentations. If you are going to spend more than a day here, seriously consider the annual pass which does not cost a lot more and allows you to come back and tour sometime in the next 365 days. Second, buy a mug like the one pictured below.

Sure, it's plastic, and offends your authentic 18th century sensibilities, but for $10 you can keep the whole family hydrated for a whole year. This mug is refillable with soft drinks, coffee, tea, and cider at several locations around CW, and the staff are happy to refill it even if you did just ask them to fill it 2 minutes before. All this is based on the assumption that you don't mind sharing a mug with others; if you are not given to sharing drinking vessels, the purchase will still make your drinking pretty cheap if you are here more than a day.

Back to visit the millinery where we were entertained by a couple of milliners and mantua makers. Karen wanted me to get a shot of the embroidery on this small bag (sorry about the flash on the glass).

Here's the rest of the display case on the counter featuring adult and child sized mitts, and cute little booties.

This tape loom was used by the staff to create decorative tapes. It works very similar to the large blanket loom we saw the other day, but the weaver calls it a "parlor toy."

All the tapes on this table were made on the loom in the previous picture. The turquoise cap in the middle is a "pudding cap" designed to protect toddler's noggins as they learn to navigate the house. Those that wore these caps were the original "puddin' heads."

On to the cabinetmaker's shop where you'll find wonderful furniture. Like the other shops in town, the workers use 18th century tools and techniques, and most of their products furnish the buildings around Colonial Williamsburg.

Some of the sketches the woodworkers use to get proportions and details correct.

One reason to return to this shop on each visit is that they usually have a harpsichord present that is available for anyone that wishes to play it. This instrument was constructed in 1994 in this shop, and spends most of its time in this building. Here's Lily trying to adapt to the short keys and light touch.

Laura takes it for a spin. Last year, we saw a harpsichord being constructed in the workshop and we learned this year that an individual from Chicago paid about $25,000 to purchase that one (was that you Mr. Yen?)

Finally, Rachel gets her turn.

In the palace kitchen, the two cooks were demonstrating how to make chocolate. For most of our visit, the cook seated at the table was simply nibbling cocoa beans while his partner did all the work!

The back room of the kitchen contained evidence of a previous day's labor.

Here's the interior of the Bruton Parish Church showing much of the seating arrangement arranged in a compartmentalized style. Consequently, many of the seats are a little awkward in one way or another. I was hoping to get a picture from the rear balcony because you get a much better view of the sanctuary from there, but I was told liability issues prevented the church from allowing people to climb the step stairs to the balcony. Hmmm... on Sunday there wasn't any liability issue preventing folks of all ages from using those stairs....

The magazine in the middle of town is a treat for people that enjoy weapons. A couple hundred firearms, swords, and pikes now decorate the walls of the second floor of the structure representing the thousands of weapons that were there at one time. Most the firearms displayed now are reproductions, although everything shown in the photo above is an antique.

Karen surprised me by showing some interest in camping, as long as the tent looked like the one pictured here. I'm wondering what she was expecting for accommodations inside the tent?

While shopping at Tarpley's Store, Karen was asked by another patron what pattern she had used for her gown. That question comes up often here, but this time the questioner was wearing a beautiful Colonial gown and she was not an employee of CW. Karen responded that she used a J.P. Ryan pattern. The questioner asked, "Would you like to meet J.P. Ryan?" Karen was a bit shocked until the woman pointed to another authentically attired woman across the store and added, "There she is!" The first woman was visiting CW with Mrs. Ryan that day, and Mrs. Ryan graciously favored us with a photograph with our family. We were pretty tickled to get to meet her in person since several of the garments we were wearing are made from her patterns.

Since we don't have a photo yet this year of our fifer friend David Baker playing with the Fife and Drum Corps, we'll settle for the moment with this huge poster hanging on the exterior of the CW Visitor Center. That's David in the front row on our left.

Back to the timeshare for the evening where our chef Tim and his able assistant Heather mixed up some tasty pasta.

After dinner we enjoyed Trader Joe's Chocolate Torte and pretended that we were eating Death by Chocolate again. Thanks for visiting!


  1. Well, I have to say that to me, some other posts on your blog (uhh... perhaps "construction update" posts) show you are being true to your blog title (please don't take offense, I am, after all, female! I am sure there are others who enjoy them!). :-)
    But THESE posts have most certainly held my interest! I love Williamsburg, I love history, I love dresses, and everything you have lately been posting. :-) How much longer will you be there?

  2. i just swoon when i see the needlework on some of these items...

    were they actually for sale? i can only imagine the prices if they were!

  3. Kathryn, I'm glad we can provide posts that appeal to female readers too. Friday will be our last full day in CW since we hit the road for home first thing Saturday morning.

    The items we show in the post are not technically "for sale," but I think the folks at CW could part with most of the reproductions at the "right" price. We'll ask when we stop in again tomorrow.

  4. Thanks for sharing all the pictures of your trip. It has been very entertaining and reminiscent of our previous visits. And we too have pictures of our girls sitting at the harpsichord in the same cabinetmaker's shop. Unfortunately, we were not the ones who bought one of those for a cool 25 G's. But I'll keep my eye out for it on Craigslist now that I know it is in the area ;-)