Whirlwind Weekend

25/09/12 12:07 AM

Well we survived the jam packed weekend at the plantation! What a time we had! There is so much I don’t even know where to begin! All I do know is that I cannot wait to be there full time working towards this wonderful dream!

Saturday was so much fun! We worked all day with the film crew, first showing them around the plantation and giving them the history of Belle Grove. While we were at the church showing them around the cemetery, we met a very nice couple from King George who was there looking around the tombstones. I am glad to know that I am not the only one who enjoys seeing them. But in our conversation with them, I found out that they had not been to Belle Grove yet. So I invited them to come with the families from Port Royal on Sunday at 1pm. After they left and as we were leaving, I noticed another person standing in front of the church taking pictures. I decided to walk over and say “Hi” as I was leaving. She told me that she was in Fredericksburg for her daughter’s wedding and wanted to stop and see the church. She was interested in it age and history. She came to the right person on that account! It really warmed my heart to know that so many are interested in this beautiful place!

Because we were working with the film crew most of the day on Saturday and into the night, Brett and I were not able to go to Stratford Hall on Saturday for the 6th Annual Wine Fest. It was just so much fun working with them. I can’t wait to reveal who they are and what they were filming. (That is coming soon)

Sunset over the River
View from the bluff at Belle Grove

Belle Grove at night is something to see! The only time I have ever been there during the evening or when it was dark was at twilight and just after. And even then there was a full moon so it was almost like daytime. But this time, the moon was about a half so the light was not as bright. But the sky at night!! How can I put it into words? I have always lived in the city so seeing a night sky limits the view of the stars. But here where the cities lights are miles away and there is nothing to stop your view, except a few trees and a passing cloud. It was just breath taking! I stood in front of the manor house and just couldn’t take my eyes off of it. The stars formed a beautiful backdrop with the manor as a dark silhouette. I just tried to image what it had been like to see it through all those years when there was no electric power. Can you image pulling up to the house with only a lantern as your light?

Stratford Hall
Great House

Sunday morning, we decided to run to Stratford Hall to the Wine Fest for about one hour. I know that isn’t a lot, but we wanted to experience it so we knew what to expect next year. We arrived shortly after they opened at 11am. We came in through the Visitor Center, but didn’t stop to really look through. We were on a mission! We were first greeted by a tent for Wine Stomping. They had a barrel with grapes for kids to stomp the grapes! Then we caught sight of a classic car show. There were some really cool classic cars. But we didn’t spend much time looking at them either.

Classic Cars

Our main focus was the vendors that had been stationed in the yard of the Great House. Most were wineries like Ingleside, Oakcrest, and even Trump Winery. Yes that would be Donald Trump’s winery in the Charlottesville area.

We also had a chance to meet a vendor from a local farm that specializes in cheese. Just what we were looking for! I really want to make sure that our guests have the full Virginia experience when visiting Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast! So when we serve our Virginia Wines and Mint Juleps for the Wine and Cheese Receptions each afternoon at 5pm, we want to serve local Virginia Cheese as well!

Marshall Farm

There were also several artists and craft vendors there. We are hoping to have artist retreats and arts and craft events at the plantation too.

Creighton’s Creations

Jen Donald

One vendor that I was most excited about was the “George Washington’s Friends”. This organization is dedicated to preserving the times and places of Colonial Virginia. Through interpretations of actual historic persons in Virginia, they bring to life those that most just read about. We are excited to find that there is a “James Madison” and “Dolley Madison” we can contact! Who knows, maybe you will have a chance to meet the Madisons at Belle Grove some day!

George Washington’s Friends

George Washington’s Friends

Another vendor that I was excited about was the “Northern Neck Master Gardeners”. As we start planning our landscape and gardens, we want to make sure that we are using accurate plants for our plantation. We have decided not to go 100% colonial in our plantings, but to have plants that represent the many generations that have lived at Belle Grove. This organization has had experience in working with a colonial garden too! They have a kitchen herb garden that they manage at George Washington’s birthplace, just 15 miles from Belle Grove. So I will be consulting them on questions as we get that part of our plan started.

Northern Neck Master Gardeners – www.nnmg.org

One and a half hours later (yes, I talk too much and we over stayed our time) we grabbed a quick lunch at one of the food vendors. It smelled so good! It was just like being at a carnival! You could smell the onions, peppers and Italian sausage cooking. So I grabbed a Philly Cheese Steak and Brett got two hot dogs.

Philly Cheese Steak

We made it back to Belle Grove just in time to greet the couple from King George at 1pm. Shortly after they arrived, the families from Port Royal arrived. I had already started showing the property to the King George couple and Brett picked up the Port Royal families. Just as I was finishing the second floor, the reporter for the Fredericksburg Free Lance Star arrived at 2pm. So Brett combined the group and finished showing them the property while I met with the reporter.


I had met Cathy Dyson of the Fredericksburg Free Lance Star while I was at a King George Historic Society Picnic in June of this year. The picnic was the one at Cleydael that I wrote about in a past post. Today she was here to talk to us about Belle Grove and the bed and breakfast. I walked her and the photographer around the property while telling them about the history. As usual, my history lesson ran way over. Brett has told me many times that I get too long winded when talking about the history of Belle Grove. But I find it hard to decide what not to talk about. The way I see it, all the history is important because it is what made Belle Grove what it is today. Cathy was more than accommodating and listened as I talked about this beautiful plantation. When I apologized for being too long winded, she was very sweet and said that it showed how passionate I was about this plantation and its history. It really was a great first interview and I really look forward to reading her piece and having her do more in the future.

Before I left, our caretaker had a little surprise for me. He had pulled out a tray of artifacts that he has found through the years. I was so surprised and in awe of the items! I now have to make an appointment to visit Ferry Farm to id and date all these new finds!

Looks like Burnt Wood

Leather pieces and heel of a shoe


Pieces of clay pipes

Animal Bones


Cup and Plate

Base of a Ceramic Pot (inside)

Base of a Ceramic Pot (outside)

Base of a Glass Bottle (inside)

Base of a Glass Bottle (outside)

Pieces of small bottles

Possible English Wine Bottle ?


Plate Shard

See more of the artifacts given to us by the Caretaker on Facebook!

Brett and I arrived home on Sunday evening around 7:00pm. After unpacking and cleaning up, I was in bed asleep by 7:45pm. I slept until 7:30am this morning! I didn’t realize how tired I was because I had been so excited through each part of the weekend! Now I just can’t wait until the next time we head back to the plantation. What wonderful surprises lay in wait of us? And what new experiences or new friends will we meet? Friday’s just don’t come fast enough anymore!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 40 Comments »

40 Comments on “Whirlwind Weekend”

  1. Clanmother Says:

    What an exciting post!!! You are on my bucket list…

  2. Thank you so much! We look forward to meeting you one day at the plantation!!

  3. terry1954 Says:

    that was fascinating!!!!!!!!! i loved all the relics that were found. a reporter also! i am just so excited for you both!!!!!!

  4. Thank you Terry! I was so excited about telling everyone of the wonderful finds we have!

  5. What a great weekend! I’m glad to hear all went well. That is a fantastic sunset photo! How beautiful!

  6. Thank you! It’s the best sunset yet! It really was a great weekend.

  7. vanbraman Says:

    I like the caretaker finds. You may need to organize a formal dig to see what else you can find. Perhaps you can find the plantation dumping grounds.

  8. I am thinking that the caretaker may have already found one. I am going to have him point out the location he found it next time I go up. We are also going to get with one of the local colleges about organizing a field study for their students.

  9. belocchio Says:

    This all reads like a fairy tale. You will be awakening the sleeping beauty. You’ve already started. I am so impressed. Virginia

  10. Thank you! I feel like I am living a dream most of the time! It has just be wonderful!

  11. I am newly following you; however, have travelled all over VA each year. Stratford Hall is one of my favorite places for the design and architecture. MDH follows Civil War history as he had 2 relatives in the GAR there. I follow the history and design, as well as the gardens.
    Since we are deaf, we don’t attend these kind of functions but we do go on a few tours. Stratford Hall had a deaf inteperter working there 2 times that we went in the 1990’s so we were thrilled. If you have anything like that at Belle Grove, be sure to type up a paper for the deaf with what is going to be talked about on a tour. Thanks.
    When will this be open as a B&B?

  12. Thank you so much for your suggestion! I really like that! I hate to say but I didn’t think of that one. Brett is involved with Wounded Warrior since we both are former military so most of our thoughts have been towards helping those who need assistance to get around. But thank you so much for pointing out that we are missing a large group of others who also need assistance! It will be our pleasure to do so! We are hoping to open in March or April. I am hoping for March 16th which would be James Madison’s birthday. We hope you will come see us at the plantation!

  13. Very neat photos! I checked out the rest on Facebook too. Quite the range of artifacts. It would be neat to know where the caretaker found them. Scattered around or more localized. I would be noting where things are found in the future, especially once you start the gardens.

    You have really great ideas for things at Belle Grove. I can’t wait to see it all myself sometime!

  14. I have already made plans to inquire the location of these finds. I think he may have found a trash pit from the range of items. I have been noting places where I have found things so we can pin point digs later. Thank you! I hope we are able to have many things for others to be involved in. We also look forward to meeting you one day at the plantation!

  15. mizqui Says:

    You go to the coolest places and shoot the coolest things. I so enjoy traveling with you via wordpress. (-:

  16. Thank you! I really enjoy going to those places! I hope that I will have plenty of things to do when guests come to stay! Hold on to your “passport” we still have many places to go!

  17. Anne Bonney Says:

    Your sunset photo is stunning. What a beautiful setting.

  18. Thank you! It really was beautiful. Just image sitting on our balcony sipping a cool drink and enjoying the “show” each evening!

  19. Amy Says:

    I’ve been a follower for a while, and I’m so excited about the progress you both have made with the plantation! Congratulations on the antique shopping trips, area visits, historic facts, etc.! I love, love, love your blog, and I can’t wait to come visit one day!! (And thank you for following my own blog as well!)

  20. Thank you Amy! I know I see your icon all the time! We are so excited about the progress and can’t wait to see what is around the next corner! Check back soon! We have a cool surprise coming this weekend!

  21. Wow! So much has been done since the time I was trying to guess which plantation you all were buying. LOL! Great job you are doing!

  22. Thank you! We are working hard towards that goal. Fingers cross and hoping for March 16th (Jame Madison’s Birthday) to open. By the way, we are leasing the plantation, not buying. I don’t think we could afford this 642 acre place lol.

  23. This is a beautiful blog! Thank you for dropping by mine today, too. I wish you all the best as you prepare to open what looks like will be an amazing B & B. Maybe one day this Canuck will make it down your way to spend a night once you’re up and running.

  24. Thank you so much! We look forward to seeing more of yours in the future too! We have a lot of Canucks that follow us and are planning a visit! We love our friends from Canada!

  25. Amy Says:

    Enjoyed reading the stories and view the beautiful photos of the church, sunset at Belle Grove, and those treasures… Thanks so much for the wonderful post!

  26. Thank you so much for stopping by and reading it! It was a great weekend and we look forward to the next grand adventure!

  27. Melissa P Says:

    Oh, you have really got my interest running away in so many areas in this post! I know you are aware – probably more so than am I – that there have been many, many famous racehorses from the Commonwealth of Virginia. I looked at all that lovely grass and my mind immediately went to equines. Looking at some of the glass pieces found made me think of the bottles made (and still being made) in Williamsburg. What fun you are going to have! Period weekends! Food & Wine festivals, Oh, and don’t leave hummingbird plants out of your gardens! I know that Virginia gets a fair Ruby-throated Hummingbird population from spring through fall. So much in one beautiful package!

  28. Thank you! You know we have a horse farm just next door! And I doubt we have uncovered most of the glass pieces yet. I think we must have some hummingbird plants! We hope that you will join us on this journey and hope to see you at the plantation one day!

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  30. Thank you so much for sharing us with your reader! We really appreciate it!

  31. pommepal Says:

    I love to read of your passion and dedication to Belle Grove. It is so interesting to follow you on the journey. The posts and photos are excellent. You fit so much into every day I think you must’ve found an extra hour or two to be able to put together such interesting posts. Blogging is quite time consuming…

  32. Thank you! We really do love this journey with all the surprises around each corner. It has been a great joy to share it with everyone.

  33. This place looks so awesome. Definitely visiting next time I’m in the states. We’re usually so busy travelling around PA and NJ to see family and I’m not half as travelled as I should be in America, but this is so worth making time.

  34. Aw that is really sweet! Thank you! We hope to see you at the plantation some day! We will make it worth your time!

  35. Melissa P Says:

    Make sure to read about James Madison’s wife Dolly and her heroic efforts to save treasures from the White House on August 24, 1812. On that date, things were a bit tense between our two countries. Thank the heavens above that we are now best of friends. I adore London and many of my very good friends are in England including one so special she’s an adopted “sister.” I can’t wait to visit Belle Grove either!

  36. I do know about Dolley’s heroic efforts to save the treasures including George Washington’s portrait. I just wish she would have saved more of the dishes! Did you know that the Presidential China for Madison is the rarest to find? But I am glad our countries are friends too! I want to much to go!

  37. camparigirl Says:

    It’s so inspiring to read of our adventures and your excitement about the plantation!

  38. Thank you! We hope that we can inspire others to follow their dreams… and visit Virginia! 😉

  39. What fun! I loved the photo of George Washington’s friends.

  40. They were such fun to meet. I can’t wait to have them at the plantation!