Monday, March 14, 2011

Colonial Williamsburg in March, Day 2

Our second day in the city found Gretel and me touring the sites while Karen and Lily endured lectures and demonstrations related to 17th to 19th century clothing accessories. We all met for lunch, so some of what's documented here was enjoyed by all.

Since the morning started cool and breezy, I convinced Gretel to start our day back at Charlton's Coffeehouse. Gretel was concerned that we may be refused service since we had just visited the day before, but I was willing to take that risk since getting kicked out of an 18th century coffeehouse didn't sound very humiliating to me. We were served without question (by staff that had not been there the previous day), and left slightly warmer to make our way about town.

We had a private conversation with this interpreter at the building that housed the James City County Court and the Williamsburg Hustings Court in the 18th century. The courthouse is located on the north side of Duke of Gloucester Street on Market Square, and that street served as the boundary between York County to the north and James City County to the south in colonial times. The courthouse was the only property on the north side of D of G Street at that time that belonged to James City County. A consequence of that anomaly was that Peyton Randolph (and his neighbors) could not walk the 50 yards across the Market Square green to attend to county business, but had to travel the ten miles or so to Yorktown to visit the York County courthouse there. Williamsburg is no longer bisected by a county border, as in the 1870s it attained independent city status, meaning it does not belong to any county. However, it does still serve as county seat for James City County (and I thought Illinois politics didn't make any sense).

This is the cute little office on one side of the courtroom where the county clerk conducted his business. All sorts of fines could be paid here in lieu of appearing before the court, and the clerk would record the transaction and collect the fee. Rumor has it the clerk retained a portion of all fines collected. Gretel and I were struck by the cute little rail around the perimeter of the desk. I hypothesized that it may have been designed to prevent books from falling off the edge of the desk. We were also impressed with the size of the volumes in the cabinet in the corner.

The Palace Gardens are always a pleasure, although they are much less colorful in March than they typically are in April. The shapes are familiar in this view, but the colors are much less varied.

A closer view finds hyacinth blooming along the covered paths...

... and wild violas (Johnny Jump-Ups) in the center section of the garden.

A visit to the Milliner's shop is always in order, where we found these breeches that appear to be consistent with the "more-buttons-is-better" approach that seems a theme in many colonial garments. The brown, fuzzy coat in the background is proof that I am not a fan of ALL colonial clothing.

Unfortunately, Neal the tailor was too busy with other customers to answer our questions today, but I'm sure we'll be back later this week to address our concerns. By the way, Neal, the missing buttons on the waistcoat does not create a flattering look. I'm just sayin'....

On to the George Wythe House, to see what's new. Just a little rearranging as far as I could tell. Nonetheless, here are a couple images to jog your memory if you've been there before, or introduce you to more of the house if you've never been there. This image captures part of the downstairs bedroom including a beautiful bed canopy, a cozily-located fireplace, and a nicely-situated writing desk.

Found in the cupboard in the sitting room was this politically incorrect teapot. I'm not sure if this is a reproduction or an original, but I'm told there were quite a few of these produced in England for sale in America in the late 1760s. Perhaps the teapot manufacturers were sympathetic to the American cause, or maybe they simply recognized a business opportunity.

Although the air was cool, the sunshine made for pleasant walking on one of Gretel's favorite paths.

And finally evidence that there are more blooms around town for those that seek them.

Thanks for visiting!


  1. Cool pics as always when it comes to your Williamsburg visits. I hope to visit it myself some day.

    Kudos on avoiding the CW stocks or jail for your coffee house chicanery.

  2. Looks like the two of you had a very enjoyable time together! And you've made me curious... is there some rule (unwritten or otherwise) that discourages one from visiting the coffeehouse on successive days?

  3. I can't wait!!! Tomorrow I'll see you all! It seems like forever since we've all been in Williamsburg together!

  4. Jeremy -- the stocks and jail sit empty one more day...

    Diane -- I think Gretel's concern is based solely on her 14-year-old desire to avoid embarassment at any cost. Fortunately I don't share that desire.

    Rachel -- we've been moping around here desperate for you to arrive!