Saturday, August 14, 2010

Virginia in August, Day 1

Virginia in August? When the forecast calls for a high temperature of 104 degrees? Do they have air conditioning there?

Even though we try to avoid vacationing in summer due to the crowds and hot weather, we were compelled to travel now in order that Lily might attend a historical sewing class offered in Williamsburg. So while Lily endures a classroom for three days, the rest of us get to run around enjoying our tourist status.

Since we don't have a ferry near our home, we made the trip across the James River on the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry just for the experience. The ferry fleet is made up of four boats, and we happened to be placed on the Pocahontas on each of our trips, and as you can see, we had plenty of room while enroute.

Since we're not ashamed of our tourist status, we were quick to hop out of the car and wander the boat snapping photos. The natives were content to sit in their vehicles sleeping or reading the newspaper, but we thought that sounded pretty boring and stuffy. The fresh air over the river was more our style. It's pretty windy out in the middle of the James River, enough so that one needs to have their hat well pinned.

This is another boat in the fleet, the Williamsburg. The voyage takes about 15 minutes and we found ourselves usually approaching the dock just as the previous boat was leaving.

Once in Scotland, we didn't really have another destination, so we consulted Garmin's list of attractions in our GPS. Less than 20 minutes from the dock at Scotland is Bacon's Castle which sounded good to us even though we'd never heard of it before. The section of house on the left was built by Arthur Allen in 1665 and is one of the few examples of Jacobean architecture in America. With four floors (including basement), brick construction throughout, and over 5,000 square feet of living space, it was one of the grandest homes in the colony at the time. In fact, most homes in Virginia in the 17th century would have fit inside the master bed chamber of this home.

The Greek Revival addition on the right was added in the 19th century, and is joined to the original house by a hyphen that served as the new formal entry for the home. Close examination of the central tower on the older section reveals it once served as the entry which was converted to a window at the time of the addition.

The triple chimneys and curvilinear gables are likely the most distinctive features of the building, and are impressive in any period let alone less than sixty years after the colony of Virginia was established.

The home was named by neighbors after Nathaniel Bacon's men captured it in 1676 intending to use it as a fortress during Bacon's Rebellion. Fortunately it never came under fire, and there is no indication that Nathaniel Bacon ever set foot on the property. Although the Allen family were not supporters of Bacon, they and all subsequent owners have endured the popular name of the estate.

Even though it only dates to the mid 19th century, I think the entry in the hyphen was still nicely executed. Some of the rooms are restored to the style they probably would have known in the 1600s, while others are decorated to reflect their 18th century state. The tour takes you into almost all the areas of the older house, and reveals many of the structural features you don't normally get to see. The only negative is that photos are not allowed inside the building.

On the way back across the James River, I had to take this photo to show that the Garmin continues to faithfully show your location, even when you're in the middle of a river.

The view from the observation deck of the Pocahontas on our way back to Jamestown.

Here's a view of the Susan Constant, Discovery, and Godspeed that we'd not seen before. The ships are excellent recreations of the three ships that made the original voyage to Jamestown, and can be viewed up close and personal by purchasing a ticket at Jamestown Settlement (which we had done on a previous trip, but skipped this time).

Finally, evidence of Lily's work today. This is the front of the bodice of the Polonaise gown she's working on in her class. Lots of draping and pinning and cutting in class, and then hand sewing in the evenings for homework. I think she enjoys it.


  1. Yay for pictures! Keep them coming! Lily, tell me ALL about it when you get back!!!!

  2. Oh lovely! Laura and I looked at the pictures together and inserted jealous and mournful groans at the appropriate places:) Please post more!!
    Can't wait to see y'all again!
    Love Rachel

  3. Thanks for the comments, ladies. More pictures to be posted soon.

  4. Ooooh, I love the Bacon's Castle!! It looks so neat! We will have to check that out next time we're in the area.
    LOL - looks like your car is swimming on the GPS!