Archive for the 'Bunnies of Belle Grove' Category

What a Day!

Jun. 17th 2013

You know as we draw closer to opening, the more exciting things become! My day started out with a cancelled meeting so I tried to sleep in a bit. Poor Brett called me at 8am thinking I was up only to wake me up. But that was okay because it lead to so much! I started by heading to King George to do some errands. As I drove past a small historic church, I noticed a sign for Tidewater Preservation. I had seen them recently at our little church on what was part of Belle Grove. They are a historic restoration company.

So I decided to stop and see if they could help me with rescuing our outbuildings. I met a wonderful young man who climbed down from a 10 foot tall scaffold to talk to me. He gave me his bosses information and told me that he would call ahead to let them know I was going to call.

When I arrived home, I jumped on the computer to answer emails. One was from a wonderful pastry chef, Karen that I had just met. She owns Cakes in Art. She wasn’t going to be able to make it to our Vendor Fair. So I had invited her to come ahead to meet and talk. She asked if today was open which it was so I set up an appointment with her at noon. I am so glad I didn’t eat much for breakfast!

Around 10:30, I received a call from Tidewater Preservation. Chip, the general manager had received a call from his worker and wanted to see if we could meet today. So we set up a meeting for 2pm. Shortly after that call, I got a call from David, Project Manager of Tidewater Preservation. He asked if we could change the meeting so he and Frederick, the President of Tidewater Preservation could come out. Unsure of what time Fredrick was going to be available, I asked if they could call me back. I didn’t want to rush the meeting with Karen, but I didn’t want to miss a chance to meet them.

At noon, I met Karen arrived baring “gifts”!


I first gave her a tour of the mansion and grounds. Then we retired to the formal dining room. The tour took all of 45 minutes, but we talked until 2:30! What a wonderful person she is! And what talent! I can’t wait to see some of her creations at Belle Grove!

As I finished up and walked Karen to her car, I noticed that two gentlemen were wondering around our Summer Kitchen. As Karen left, I headed over to meet David and Frederick. They quickly told me more about our outbuildings than anyone has been able to tell us.


We have three outbuildings or dependencies that have been part of Belle Grove Plantation for a long time.


We have an Ice House, Smokehouse and Summer Kitchen. The Summer Kitchen is divided into two parts. One side with its large fireplace is the kitchen side. The other side has a smaller fireplace which I assumed was a Slave Quarters. I have been told that our outbuildings date somewhere in the late 1700s to mid-1800s. The late 1700s would place them there when the main section of the house was built in 1791.

 Here is what I learn today!

Tidewater Preservation has some history of its own with Belle Grove Plantation. During the restoration of Belle Grove from 1997 to 2003, Tidewater Preservation had been considered as the restoration company. They had done an in depth study of both the house and the outbuildings. With this past history and looking at the structure, they were able to tell me some really exciting things!

Smoke House in need

Smoke House in need

Summer Kitchen in need

Summer Kitchen in need

First, the age we had is incorrect. These outbuildings date to 1720 to 1750! They pre-date the house! This is really exciting news because it places them in the time period that the Conway Family owned the plantation! It also places them here when James Madison was born! I was shocked and excited all at once!

Kitchen side

Kitchen side

Laundry side

Laundry side

They also told me that what I thought was the Slave Quarters side, wasn’t a Slave Quarter, but a Laundry Room. Then another shocker! The slaves would have slept in the loft above the current ceiling! The last owners have used the Summer Kitchen as a pool house and had enclosed the loft. Oh my what do we have there!!

Winter Kitchen in the basement

Winter Kitchen in the basement

We moved into the house and they told me about the basement fireplace room. I had at first thought it to be a Winter Kitchen, but was told that it wasn’t. But that slaves had lived in the basement at one time. Frederick told me that before the restoration in the basement laundry room there had been two very large English ovens. That both the Fireplace Room and the Laundry Room had been a very large Kitchen sometime after 1839! My heart was pounding in my chest!

Brick on the top is from the foundation in the south side yard. Bottom is from the 1900 water fountain.

Brick on the top is from the foundation in the south side yard. Bottom is from the 1900 water fountain.

We walked outside and talked about the foundation of the house that was found under the current home, which would have been James Madison’s Grandmother’s home. I had noticed some of the bricks that the handyman guys had removed to place our French drains in on the south end of the house. I knew that the foundation was just under the house at that point and wondered if the bricks he has removed from the yard could have been early enough to be from that foundation. I had noticed that they were bigger in length and width from those we had pulled from the 1900 fountain. When I showed it to them, Frederick confirmed that they were man made and date to the early 1700s!!! In my hand, I was holding a piece of the house that Madison was born in!!!

 My day couldn’t have gotten any better… or at least that is what I thought!

Around 4:30 this afternoon, as I sat at my office, looking out the window typing and watching our Bunnies here at Belle Grove run around, laying in the sun and eating sweet grass, I noticed a big brown truck approaching.

 My mind raced!

Could it be?

Yes! It was the UPS delivery truck!

I ran to the front door only to stop and run back to grab my camera!


It was our first delivery of books for the library! I asked the driver if he would mind if I took a picture. I wanted to remember this and share it with you! I bounced back to the office and waited until Brett called to open them!

Now we received our first donation of books on Saturday from some dear friends, Glenda and Baxter in Chesapeake. We can’t say how much we appreciated all of them! And now our first delivery to the house! We really are starting to feel like this is real! But thank you to Linda and Richard of Alexandria, Virginia! You made my day even more special!

If you have any books you would like to donate to Belle Grove Plantation’s historic library, please mail them to:

 Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast 

9221 Belle Grove Drive 

King George, VA 22485


We really appreciate the donations!

Please see the bottom of this list for our “Wish List”!

So here is the up dated book list we have so far!

The Asent of George Washington – John Ferling

Madison Writings – Jack N. Rakove

A Slave in the White House – Elizabeth Dowling Taylor

The Debate on the Constitution – Bernard Barilyn

James Madison – Garry Wills

War at Our Doors – Rebecca Campbell Light

Images of America Virginia Presidential Homes – Patrick L. O’Neill

Places I Have Known Along the Rappahannock River – Beverley C Pratt

Come Retribution – William A Tidwell

A Perfect Union – Catherine Allgor

Gordonsville Virginia – William H.B. Thomas

Orange Virginia – William H.B. Thomas

Dearest Friend  A Life of Abigail Adams – Lynne Withey

Patriots of the UpCountry – William H.B. Thomas

The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

Dolores Claiborne – Stephen King

The Dead Zone – Stephen King

Pet Sematary – Stephen King

The Tommyknockers – Stephen King

Just Added!

Thank you Glenda and Baxter of Chesapeake, Virginia!

Rhett Butler’s People – Donald McCaig

The Gold of Exodus – Howard Blum

The Sum of All Fears – Tom Clancy

Faith of our Founding Fathers – Tim LaHaye

Gun – A Visual History – Dr. Chris McNab

American Soldier – General Tommy Franks

Wild at Heart – John Eldredge

How Did You Do It, Truett – S. Truett Cathy

Gettysburg – Newt Gingrich and William R Forstchen

Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All – Allan Gurganus

Me My County My God – Dr. C Thomas Anderson and Don Enevoldsen

Lincoln on Leadership – Donald T. Phillips

The Civil War Battlefield Guide – The Conservation Fund – Frances H Kennedy

Gettysburg  An Alternate History – Peter G. Tsouras

Leadership Lessons of Robert E. Lee – Bil Holton

Run to the Roar – A Fable of Choice, Courage and Hope – J. Randy Forbes

His Excellency George Washington – Joseph J Ellis

Dear Catherine, Dear Taylor – The Civil War letters of a Union Soldier and his Wife – Richard L Kiper

Debt of Honor – Tom Clancy

Tale of a Tiger – R.T. Smith

Dinner with a Perfect Stranger – David Gregory

Command Attention – Col. Keith Oliver USMC (Ret)

Leadership Excellence – Pat Williams with Jim Denney

War – Sebastian Junger

How – Why HOW we do anything means everything – Dov Seidman

Psalm 91- Peggy Joyce Ruth

Team of Rivals – Doris Kearns Goodwin

No Higher Honor – Condoleezza Rice

Extreme Dreams Depend on Teams – Pat Williams

The Ambition – Lee Strobel

Secrets of the Millonaire Mind – T. Harv Eker

Rembrandt – The Old Testament – Thomas Nelson Publishers

Rembrandt – Life of Christ – Thomas Nelson Publishers

Thank you Linda and Richard of Alexandria, Virginia!

Profiles in Courage – John F. Kennedy

Lady Bird – Jan Jarboe Russell

Wish List

These are books we would like to have for the library.



Adams, John Defence of the Constitutions
Burns, Robert Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect
Crevecoeur, J. Hector St. John de Letters from an American Farmer
Filson, John Discovery, Settlement, & Present State of Kentucky
Gibbon, Edward History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
A. Hamilton, J. Jay, and J. Madison The Federalist 
Jefferson, Thomas Notes on the State of Virginia
Ledyard, John Journal of Captain Cook’s Last Voyage to the Pacific Ocean
Locke, John Treatises on Government
Longacre, James Barton National Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Americans
Montesquieu The Spirit of the Laws
Morse, Jedidiah Geography Made Easy
Shakespeare, William Hamlet
Plato The Republic
Raleigh, Sir Walter History of the World
Ramsay, David History of the American Revolution
Vattell, Emerich de The Law of Nations
Warville, J.P. Brissot de The Commerce of America with Europe

 Books about Madison

Ketcham, Ralph James Madison: A Biography
Banning, Lance The Sacred Fire of Liberty: James Madison and the founding of the Federal Republic
Brookhiser, Richard James Madison
Burstein, Andrew and Nancy Isenberg Madison and Jefferson
Madison, James Notes of Debates of the Federal Convention of 1787
Mattern, David and H. Schulman The Selected Letters of Dolley Payne Madison
Mattern, David B. James Madison’s Advice to My Country
Rakove, Jack James Madison and the Creation of the American Republic
Stagg, J.C.A. Mr. Madison’s War: Politics, Diplomacy, & Warfare in the Early American Republic
Wood, Gordon Empire of Liberty

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Meet the Bunnies of Belle Grove

Jun. 5th 2013


Something was tickling his nose. He raised his head and that was then he could feel the warm morning sun shining down on his little nest. The blades of grass dripped another drop of dew and it tickling his nose again. He quickly nuzzled down his head into the warm fur that his mother had placed for him just before he was born. He loved the warmth and smell of his mother. It made this little nest feel like home.

Suddenly he heard his name being called, “Jasper, it’s time to get up.” The sweet sound of his mother’s voice let him know that it was breakfast time. If anything could get Jasper up and going in the morning it was the thought of the sweet blades of grass and clover in the field beside the driveway.

Out he came, stretching and raising his face to the sun to warm him. Just as he stretched out his front paws, the attack came. It was on top of him before he could react. A hard thump and over he rolled. But it was the giggles of his sister, Alice that let him know that he was okay. “Alice! You scared me!” Jasper shouted at her as she made her escape. “I know. That’s why I did it.” She laughed and hurried to catch up with her mother and father as they made their way toward the driveway field.

Jasper thought about how he would get her later. As he raised his head, he could see over the bluff at the river that gentle flowed by this plantation. This morning a mist was raising off the water and made it look dreamy. Overhead he could hear the birds singing. There were hundreds of birds here of every shape and size. Cardinals, Robins, Woodpeckers, Sparrows, Blackbird and Finches all call this plantation home. There was even a pair of Osprey that nested here every year. Miss Dolley and Mr. James weren’t a danger Mother had said because they ate fish from the river. When the Osprey weren’t here, the Bald Eagles were. Mother said that they needed to be watchful with them.

River Morning Mist small

“Jasper, come on!” shouted his father, Francis. Jasper ran quickly to catch up. The field beside the driveway wasn’t far. They just had to come around the big house to get to it. They generally stayed close to this area, even though the fields were as far as the eyes could see. Jasper sometimes wondered what the grass on the other side tasted like. He had asked his mother, Sarah, but she had told him she didn’t know. She had said that they didn’t go over there. He had thought about asking his grandmother, Rebecca because she knew everything. She had been around this plantation for a long time and was the keeper of the history.

Grandma Rebecca had told him that his family had lived in this field for many, many years. Her stories had come down from generations of other bunnies that had lived before them. Jasper loved her stories and begged her to tell them often. Grandma Rebecca would talk to them as the nibbled on the clover. Maybe today she would tell them another story.


Just as Jasper rounded the corner, he stopped fast in his tracks. His family was standing very still and was laying low with their ears down. He knew this was a sign that danger was near. He was just a few feet from them, but to him it was miles away. He didn’t know what it was and he was scared.

It was just a minute later that he realized that one of those loud, moving things was passing by on the driveway. He didn’t know what it was, but it was loud. The sound broke that silence of this plantation and he didn’t like it. His father that told him that it was something that the humans used to move around in. He had seen them get into it and disappear. His father had warned Jasper and Alice to stay away from these humans. They were dangerous and could harm them. Hearing the noise from this big thing, Jasper believed his father.


A minute later and it was gone. The family of bunnies moved over to the field by the driveway to eat their breakfast. After a quick nibble of the grass, Jasper sighted his sister just a few feet away. She was taking a break alongside the driveway and enjoying the bright, warm sun. Jasper decided it was time for revenge. He crept up on her, slowly, one hop at a time, nibbling grass to throw her off. Slowly, slowly, he was almost there. Jasper lowered himself to get a good spring. One, two, three…. He jumped up high to pounce on her. Before he could land his jump, Alice had turned around and leaped back at him. Surprised, Jasper couldn’t react. Alice caught him mid-air and they fell back to the ground. She was on top of him and then she was gone. Jasper rose up and ran after her. They chased each other, laughing until they were worn out. Out of breath, they stopped and rested.

Mother and father were still nibbling on the grass. Alice had found a spot in the sun and was again nibbling on her favorite clover. Jasper had also found his place in the sun. Its warm rays heated his back and gave him that warm nest feeling. Before he knew it, he was drifting to sleep. As he closed his eyes, he thought to himself, “This is the best place in the world.”


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Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Bunnies of Belle Grove | 20 Comments »