Friday, November 20, 2009

Williamsburg in the Fall: Details, aka Things You Won't Find at Our House

One thing I like about the 301 acres of Colonial Williamsburg is that there are lots of details to observe all over the place. Here are a few we noticed on our latest trip that you are unlikely to find at our house anytime soon.

A porcelain doll sitting on an embroidered blanket. I don't know for sure, but I suspect that doll is about 250 years old. What really caught my eye on this tour through the Palace is that the doll had been sitting on the other side of the room just a few days before. Freaky!

Purple toile bed canopy. This canopy has been hanging over the bed in the master bedroom in the Palace since 1981, but that doesn't make the images on the fabric any less intricate or interesting.

Cherry close stool. At least I think the wood is cherry. At any rate, I've never used a toilet that had an ornate back and arms like this one -- nor legs for that matter! For your information, this piece of furniture was about 20 feet behind a rail impeding access to it, lest anyone try to get a closer look.

Portrait of Queen Charlotte, or as she's described at the bottom of the painting, "Her Most Excellent Majesty Charlotte Queen of Great Britain &c" (which I believe means "etc.") Her ears look very interesting....

Harpsichord made in 1770. We don't even have a harpsichord, let alone an antique one. Lily has played several at CW in the past, and she isn't fond of the short keys and light touch. Nonetheless, live harpsichord music in the house might sound rather pleasant.

Incredible window moulding and decoration. I don't think our house is the right style for something like this, but it sure is cool. Somebody had quite an imagination.

I'm not sure what you call all this ornateness around the door, but this entrance looks important even without the king's medallion at the top. I think it took awhile to put all those pieces together.

Beef tongue on a platter. The chef that prepared this dish referred to it as the tastiest dish on the table (which also included chicken, turkey, pumpkin, broccoli, chocolate tart, and other dishes that looked at least halfway appetizing). Call me a 21st century food snob, but that tongue lying there does little to make me hungry.

18th century barometer. I don't know anything about the technology behind this device, but I'm sure it has a fascinating story and it looks really cool.

Silk Satin wedding dress and stomacher made in 1756 (stomacher is detached at the upper right). We were fortunate to be in town when several study drawers at the DeWitt Wallace Museum were opened to the public for viewing of the clothing stored within. Each of the drawers had a glass cover that prevented greasy fingers from touching the antique garments, but that glass also made a handy camera rest for photographing small details. Lily recorded quite a few interesting things, and I'm sure it's just a matter of time before we see some of them appear in her reproductions.

Thanks for visiting!


  1. This is my first visit to your site, and I'm delighted to stumble across this entry about Williamsburg. I teach Colonial History, and would KILL for a job at CW, but it's a dreadful commute from the Baltimore area, so I settle for bringing CW to kids who will probably never get there. Poor Queen Charlotte - she certainly had a rough go, didn't she?

  2. That little doll is so sweet. She is so pristine, it's hard for one to imagine she is so old. But I have to admit that what caught my eye most in that picture is the green checked fabric of the pillow in the bottom left hand corner... It looks identical to the fabric of my everyday kitchen linens! Quite the boost to my poor well worn napkins' self esteem, I must say.

    As for Queen Charlotte and her ears... maybe she was secretly an elf!

  3. Fun pictures! That dress is gorgeous... if Lily reproduces it, tell her to make it a little too long for her so that I can wear it too. :-) She can wear high heels!

    Ok... tongue... it just may be *THE* most disgusting food I have ever seen. Never eat something that at one time could have tasted you.

  4. Lady Anne: Welcome! Like you, we dream of employment at CW, even if only for a season. When you say you bring CW to kids are you referring to the CW electronic field trips?

    Diane: To hear that you share fashion sense with a colonial governor of Virginia does not surprise us at all.

    Kathryn: your request has been forwarded to Lily.

    Thanks for the advice about the tongue. That sounds like a much better excuse for refusing the dish than simply because it looks icky.

  5. I don't know... "It looks icky" seems like a pretty good excuse to me...

  6. Re: the 1770 harpsichord: the date and rectangular shape of this instrument suggests that this is NOT a harpsichord, but a piano-forte.