Candlelight Tour at Montpelier

10/12/12 8:10 PM

James Madison's MontpelierChristmas Candlelight Tour

James Madison’s Montpelier
Christmas Candlelight Tour

December 10, 2012.

To President and Mrs. Madison:

Though few are the days passed since we left you, our dearest new friends, they have been spent in anxious impatience to write to you. A grateful welcome we received on our visit to your beloved Montpelier. We were first greeted by your servants with much joy and laughter. One of your servants gave us the great tidings that not only would we find Mrs. Madison receiving guests, but President Madison had also joined her for the evening. Happy were our hearts as the news crossed our ears!

Your devoted servants gave us a list of events for this merry evening and directed our attention to the first event in the DuPont Ballroom. There we meet with persons of genteel carriage and they attracted our regard and liking. It was as if a living picture had been drawn by the most excellent Masters, exquisitely designed to afford the utmost pleasure to the Beholders. They took the liberty to acquaint every Gentleman and Lady who was desirous of performing Country dances in a genteel, free and easy manner. The most beautiful of these dances being the Minuet being well calculated and adapted to give room for every person to display all the beauties and graces of the body which becomes a genteel carriage.

Colonial Dancers

Colonial Dancers

Colonial Dancers

Colonial Dancers

Colonial Dancers

Colonial Dancers

Colonial Dancers

Colonial Dancers

As we left the merriment, we crossed a room filled with wondrous delights. Center among these tasty bites was a wassailing of a plenty. Surely your servants worked tireless for days prepare such a grand tasting. Wine flowed from glass to glass as each of your guest toasted to the season and to such splendid hosts.


Your servants happily pointed the direction to which we meandered up to the grand house. How wondrous did the candles light our way only to be softly lead along by the sweet sounds of the carolers along the path. It seemed that the angels of heaven wept in delight from such a sight as the light rain dropped upon us. But not even this would keep your servants for singing with joy of the grand season. Seeking shelter among the trees and bushes we heard their voices calling us along.


As we ascended the front stairs, we grew anxious to meet with you. Quickly we brushed away the water from our dress as not to stain your beautiful home. The servant ushered us in and we moved through the line as Mrs. Madison received each of us with warm handshakes and greets. What delights we took in hearing of your Christmas season to come and of your beloved son, John Payne Todd. The delight of Mrs. Madison was quickly over, which sadden us to go and allow others the enjoyment of her.

The tour of your grand home afforded us much pleasure, though we had seen it several times over the years. How things seemed to catch our notice that we long had not seen before. Each of  your servants graciously answered our inquires and guided us along to our end. Much to our surprise was one of your servants who came to greet us as we concluded our tour. She is the most polite, modest, well-informed and interesting servant we have met at Montpelier. We must have made an impression on her for her to recall us from among you many visitors. It was such an honor to be remembered.



Then the most wonderful thing of all things occurred. We were recalled to the parlor by your head servant for a most surprising audience. As we were ushered in, breath leaped for our chest as we beheld the Great Little Madison and his beloved Dolley. We truly enjoyed our conversation with you. To share such a connection as that of President Madison’s mother’s plantation in Port Conway is such an honor. Finding that one day you might return the hospitality of a visit to our plantation made this visit more than our hearts would have ever dared to dream of. We consider ourselves a most lucky of beings. Please know we shall be ever grateful for the fatigue and trouble you and  your servants have experienced for our sake.

President and Mrs. Madison with Brett and Michelle Darnell

President and Mrs. Madison with Brett and Michelle Darnell

I must conclude with love and prayers for you all. Here is wishing  you a merry season with joy and laughter and much blessings.


Brett and Michelle Darnell

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Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 34 Comments »

34 Comments on “Candlelight Tour at Montpelier”

  1. terry1954 Says:

    beautiful photos, makes me feel like I was there and a part of this festive celebration!

  2. Thank you! You would have loved it! I was star struck when I saw James Madison!

  3. terry1954 Says:

    I am lucky to see these awesome wonders through your eyes

  4. 🙂

  5. Wow, beautiful images, well done.

  6. Thank you so much! It was so much fun being there.

  7. seniorhiker Says:

    This is a marvelous event. Thank you for sharing these wonderful photos with us.

  8. You are so welcome! It was so much fun! Thank you!

  9. dianeroark Says:

    It looks like you had so much fun. The clothing for the times was terrific.

    I lost my followers when I switched web host this week. If you were following me and did not get the updated post today, please follow me again. I would be grateful! Thanks and You really do have an encouraging blog!Many Blessings!! Diane Roark

    I enjoy getting your e-mail updates and reading your encouraging stories. Blessings, Diane Roark

  10. Thank you Diane! I have added you back now. I look forward to seeing more of your new blog!

  11. lessandragr Says:

    What a wonderfully written thank you!! All I can think is, you’ve read so many historic letters of late that you have the tone of another era in Your letter – amazing!

  12. Thank you! I did read through several letters between Dolley Madison and others. I tried hard to give it an air of that period. It was so beautiful!

  13. enjoying your posts

  14. Thank you so much!

  15. Mama Bear Says:

    I agree with lessandragr. That was a very well written post! When I reached the end, I honestly expected to see the signature of someone from that era.

  16. Thank you so much! If I could I would have signed it using a quill.

  17. My goodness. I thought I was reading a letter from a different era thanking the hosts as was the custom long ago, sadly missing today. This is an AWESOME post studded with fantastic photos of your visit.


  18. Thank you Leslie! It was fun to write and I have to say I am proud of it. I wanted to give the reader the feel of what we felt as we stood there next to President and Mrs. Madison. I swear it felt just as if they were there with us!

  19. Great job capturing that period of history. Love, love the pic of you and Brett! Another great story for us stuck out here west of the Rockies!

  20. Thank you! We were so honored to be able to take that picture!

  21. Amy Says:

    What a beautiful way of touring us to the Candlelight Tour at Montpelier! Thank you Michelle!

  22. You are so welcome! We wish all of you could have been there with us! It was such a wonderful experience!

  23. Gwen Says:

    Thanks for sharing your photo’s and commentary! Enjoyed your visit very much.

  24. Thank you! I enjoyed having all of you along!

  25. iknead2knit Says:

    Love this!

  26. Thank you! We did too!

  27. I loved this….I’ve always wanted to enjoy a piece of history!

  28. Thank you! It was so much fun being there. It was like stepping back in time!

  29. gardeniahung Says:

    Happy Holidays!

  30. Thank you! Same to you!

  31. David Says:

    It must have been a nice evening. And, to meet President and Mrs. Madison, no less.

  32. It was a wonderful evening. And to meet the President and Mrs. Madison was almost like meeting real people!

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  34. Thank you so much for sharing our blog with your readers! It really means a lot to us!