Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Colonial Williamsburg in March, Day 3

One more day of Gretel and me adventuring together around CW while Karen and Lily endure fawning praise from the fashion elite at the symposium.

There was no stop at the coffeehouse this morning as most of our plans for the day centered around the other end of town. On the way, we noticed this little walkway between two buildings that just begs to be replicated on our own home. If only we had a suitable location... and a cute little gate... and a mature hedge growing high enough to walk under....

We took the time to stop in the Governor's Palace kitchen to see what was on the menu. The humble chicken on the cutting board was experiencing a spinectomy and was then promptly placed on a short grill over some coals on the right side of the hearth (hidden by the chef in this photo). It didn't take long before that barbequed chicken was smelling good! While that was cooking, we discussed breakfast habits with the chef who informed us that 18th century gentry ate a small informal meal mid-morning in anticipation for the largest meal of the day from about 2 to 4 PM.

The almond-shaped decorated pastry in the front is actually an 18th century sort of casserole. The pastry bakes hard and is intended simply to hold the contents -- it is not intended to be eaten. In fact, the chef said you'd have more success eating the table than you would eating that pastry!

Thomas Jefferson honored us with his presence behind the Governor's Palace this morning, where he took the opportunity to address the crowd on a variety of topics and answered questions from the audience. One astute homeschooling advocate asked about Jefferson's views on education, contrasting the Greek model with the home-based model. Jefferson replied in support of a state-supported system that strove to allow children in the poorest communities the opportunity to be capable of conversing with their more cultured fellow Virginians on any number of topics. I'm curious whether those comments were consistent with Jefferson's beliefs, or if they were a 21st century interpretation of his views.

Thomas Everard purchased the house shown above in the mid 1750s and CW has restored it to the state it may have been in during Everard's occupation of the residence in the shadow of the Governor's Palace. Everard was orphaned by the age of ten and admitted to Christ's Hospital in West Sussex, England for a time before he served a seven-year apprenticeship with a merchant in Williamsburg. Following his apprenticeship, he was appointed clerk of the Elizabeth City County court, and later the York County court where he served until his death.

The dining room is set to reflect Everard's ample means, and features some interesting details. The wallpaper is a reproduction of a pattern that likely covered the walls during Everard's stay here. Restorationists discovered fragments of wallpaper behind the crown molding in this room and were able to trace the paper back to England to the original manufacturer who still had the original blocks from which the wallpaper was printed. They supplied CW with enough square pieces to cover the room, and restore it to its 18th century splendor.

The china on the table was probably never in the Everard's possession as it was recovered recently from a ship that had sunk in 1748. Colonial Williamsburg was able to purchase several settings at auction, and now displays these original pieces.

The sitting room features wall-to-wall carpet (27-inch strips sewn together and fitted to the room) and glossy woodwork. The finish on the woodwork and the looking glass above the fireplace mantle serve to reflect light and make the room brighter, especially in the evenings.

Mr. Everard fashioned an office for himself at the back of the house so he could carry out his business from the convenience of his home, when possible. The map above the fireplace was drawn by Peter Jefferson, the father of Thomas.

Gretel and I played another round of a game we started yesterday: to see how far one can walk across town by following private garden paths. We had pretty good success on the south side of Duke of Gloucester Street, although one does have to keep one's eyes open for gates, since they aren't always obvious.

Finally, a shot of archaeological digging going on at the blacksmith's shop partially executed by a Caterpillar 322C hydraulic excavator. The old blacksmith shop was torn down in early March and archaeologists have been studying the site to learn all they can about the blacksmithing and armoury activities performed on the property. CW has an active blog chronicling the destruction of the old and the construction of the new.

The four of us finally ended our day at the Governor's Palace for another candlelight concert. This time I've included a photo of part of the program for the evening, so you have some idea of what we experienced.

Thanks for visiting!

1 comment:

  1. Hello Riggenbachs all,
    I'm enjoying these posts of your va-cay. :) I've been to Williamsburg but once, and briefly, during Vision Forum's "History of the World" conference in 2006. Not enough time to explore or wrap my head around the place! Your pictures and descriptions are making me want to go back for a more prolonged visit. :)