Tea for Two . . . Days!

Dec. 26th 2013

This past weekend, Belle Grove Plantation hosted not one but two Holiday Afternoon Teas!

Holiday Tea 1

On Saturday was our Holiday Afternoon Tea that was open to the public.

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On Sunday, we hosted a Holiday Afternoon Tea for a private party.

On the menu for our tea:

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Cranberry with Pecan Scones and Apricot with White Chocolate Scones

Holiday Tea 7

Ham and Cheese Mini Quiches

Holiday Tea 9

Salmon with Roasted Red Pepper Tea Sandwiches

Roast Beef with Roasted Red Pepper and Blue Cheese Tea Sandwiches (Saturday’s Tea)

Roast Beef with Roasted Red Pepper and Horseradish Tea Sandwiches (Sunday’s Tea)

Holiday Tea 6

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Holiday Tea 4

Italian Puff Pastry Shell with Orange Cream

Coconut Bonbons

We served a choice of two flavors of tea:

Classical Earl Grey

Spiced Apple Cider

Saturday’s Tea gave us another first for us!


We had our first young ladies attend Afternoon Tea with us! They were so wonderful!

Sunday 2

Sunday’s Tea also brought us another young lady! She was just so sweet!

Sunday’s Afternoon Tea had also requested a special guest!


The Official Plantation Dog

Sunday 5

They brought him treats and lots of hugs!

It was an elegant weekend filled with wonderful ladies!

Thank you to all the ladies who attended our First Holiday Tea on Saturday!

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Holiday Tea 12

Holiday Tea 5

Holiday Tea 13

Thank you to the OXOX Ladies who attended our Holiday Tea on Sunday!

Sunday 1

Sunday 17

Sunday 15

Sunday 4

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History, Food and Recipes | Comments Off on Tea for Two . . . Days!

Christmas Candlelight Tickets Now On Sale!

Nov. 18th 2013

christmas card

Belle Grove Plantation
1st Annual
Christmas Candlelight Tours

It is time to make history at Belle Grove Plantation as we celebrate our first Christmas at the plantation! We will be opening our doors to old and young to come and gaze upon this grand mansion and grounds that has seen so many Christmas past.

On Friday, December 6th, 2013, Belle Grove Plantation will celebrate their Official Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting. Come help us not only ring in the season, but celebrate officially opening our doors!

Saturday, December 14th from 5pm to 9pm, Santa arrives at the plantation! The last known visit from Father Christmas to the plantation appeared in the Free Lance Star dating to the 1890s! Come see him return once again and help us celebrate this return to tradition!

Each day, there will be entertainment and warm beverages to help you get into the Holiday Spirit!

Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast will be opening its doors for the 1st Annual Christmas Candlelight Tour for the following dates:

Friday, December 6th and Friday, December 13th
6:00pm to 9:00pm

Saturday, December 7th and Saturday, December 14th
Daytime Tours – 12:00pm to 3:00 pm
Evening Tours – 5:00pm to 9:30pm

Sunday, December 8th and Sunday, December 15th
Daytime Tours – 12:00pm to 3:00 pm
Evening Tours – 3:00pm to 6:00pm

IMPORTANT – This tour requires several stairs. We are sorry, at this time we are not handicap accessible.

Tickets are sold for scheduled times. Please make sure you purchase them for the time you wish to visit.

Ticket Prices:

Daytime Tickets

Adults – $15
Children under 12 – $10
Children under 5 – Free

Night Time Tickets

Adults – $25
Children under 12 – $10
Children under 5 – Free

I am sorry, we do not offer discounts for this event.

Please go to our Online Store to Purchase Tickets!


Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Belle Grove History, Darnell History | Comments Off on Christmas Candlelight Tickets Now On Sale!

Look Who Stopped By The Plantation!

Nov. 17th 2013

Modern Molasses Cookies the Official Cookie of Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast birthplace of James Madison in King George Virginia at Port Conway

As many of you that have been following us over the last year or two know, we had an Official Cookie Contest last March. It was a wonderful contest and we had some really wonderful cookie recipes offered!

After a very close race and the public vote on Facebook, it ended with a delicious cookie called “Modern Molasses Cookies” submitted by Alyssa D’Alconzo. Since we have opened, we have been placing these yummy cookies on a silver tray on each bed during turn-down service. They are wonderful and everyone really enjoys the added “midnight snack”.

Modern Molasses Cookies the Official Cookie of Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast birthplace of James Madison in King George Virginia at Port Conway

Alyssa and Michelle – November 2013

This weekend we were excited to host Alyssa and her family for a couple days at the plantation! How wonderful to finally meet someone that we have been chatting with on our blog for so long. Alyssa isn’t the first from the blog to come by, but it was extra special to have her here to sample our “Modern Molasses Cookies”.

I think we passed the test!

But we would like to share the recipe with all those who are new or those who would like to know how to make them. Here at the plantation, I did make a copy of changes to the recipe. I don’t serve them with chocolate because there are those who may be allergic. I also make a batch and freeze the raw dough balls. Then in the afternoon, I pull out what I need and cook them so they are fresh and warm when our guests return from dinner. By freezing them, it helps give them a puffy center too. (A trick I learned from Mrs. Field’s cookies)

You can check out Alyssa’s blog and read about her adventures visiting us at


So make a warm batch and enjoy!

Modern Molasses Cookies – Alyssa D’Alconzo

Ingredients (4 dozen cookies)

2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons allspice
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
3/4 cup shortening
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 ounces dark chocolate
1/2 teaspoon coconut oil or shortening


In a medium bowl, combine first 5 ingredients; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together shortening and dark brown sugar. Beat in egg, molasses, and vanilla. Mix well.

Fold in dry ingredients and stir by hand.
Cover and chill at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets.
Shape teaspoonful of dough into balls; roll in sugar.
Place balls onto cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart.

Bake 8-10 minutes until set. Cool for one minute on cookie sheet and remove to wire rack to cool completely.
In a small bowl, break up chocolate into small pieces, add coconut oil or shortening, and microwave on medium heat until melted.

Using a fork, drizzle chocolate over cookies.

Allow chocolate to set and store in an airtight container.

The Finer Things In Life

Nov. 13th 2013

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On Saturday, November 9th, Belle Grove Plantation hosted the Victorian Ladies Society for an afternoon of tea and tours.

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What a sight they were to see in their finest as they approached the grand mansion!

I could almost see days gone by as ladies during the Turner Family period would have hosted such gatherings.

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Our Afternoon Tea was served in the Formal Dining Room on plates and cups that many of you have seen as we have collected them over the last year or two. Our menu included four flavors of scones. Pumpkin, White Chocolate Raspberry, Apple Cinnamon and Blueberry were served with traditional sides of Lemon Curd, Clotted Cream and Strawberry Preserves. Our tea sandwiches were a two layer, opened face Cucumber Sandwich, a two layer Olive and Pecan Spread on Wheat, Chicken Salad in a Puff Pastry and Asparagus with Virginia Ham and Dijon Mustard rolled in a crescent. For our pastries we served a Lavender Shortbread, Chocolate Rugula and a Puff Pastry Shell with Italian Orange Cream. Our tea select was Classic Earl Gray and Youth Berry with Wild Orange Blossom.

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The ladies enjoyed their tea and conversations for the first hour. The second was spent touring the mansion and hearing the history of Belle Grove Plantation from the beginning in 1670 to the present. Our tour ended on the Riverside Balcony where the ladies enjoyed a moment of warmth as the sun shone down over the river.

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Peering out the Turner Master Suite window where the Carrie Turner etching is located

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We are so excited to announce that the Victorian Ladies Society will be returning in April, 2014 for a very special event with Belle Grove Plantation!

The Victorian Ladies Society and Belle Grove Plantation will be hosting our first Titanic Tea!

Be on the watch for the announcement and ticket sales!

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Thank you to the Victorian Ladies for visiting with us at Belle Grove Plantation!

If you are interested in an Private Afternoon Tea at Belle Grove Plantation, please email us at information@bellegroveplantation.com.  We are sorry, but we do not serve tea to the general public at this time.

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History, Food and Recipes | Comments Off on The Finer Things In Life

Tea with Dolley Madison

Jul. 15th 2013

Dolley Madison

Every wanted to have Afternoon Tea with Dolley Madison?

How about having it on the bluff overlooking the river as the sun sets?

Here is your chance!

Tea with Dolley

Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast is proud to host

Afternoon Tea with Dolley Madison of Montpelier


Saturday, August 24th


from Dolley P. Madison and her Portrayal Today Website


Young Ladies Tea on the Bluff

12:00pm to 1:00pm

Young Ladies ages 5 to 12 are invited to join Dolley Madison on the bluff for a fun lunch time tea. Wear your favorite big hat and bring your favorite doll and enjoy stories with Dolley.


Ladies Late Afternoon Tea on the Bluff

6:00pm to 8:00pm

Ladies are invited to join Dolley Madison on the Bluff for a Late Afternoon Tea and watch the sun set on the river. After the tea, join Dolley for a tour of the Mansion. Girls 13 to 17 may attend this tea.



Young Ladies Tea – $40

Ladies Late Afternoon Tea – $55


Make your reservations early – Space is limited


To purchase tickets for this event, please go to:


Find “Tea with Dolley Madison” and purchase your tickets

When you purchase your tickets – in the note section, please list the name of those that will be attending as well as your email address so we can confirm your purchase.

Reservations will be taken until Wednesday, August 21st.

Questions? Please email us at information@bellegroveplantation.com



Spending the night on Saturday, August 24th.

We have three rooms that we will be filling on the same night.

We are going to take early reservations for just this night!

In order to reserve a room for Saturday, August 24th

You must purchase at least one ticket and email us at information@bellegroveplantation.com

We will take room requests in order that it is received.

Your choices are:

The Turner Room

Second floor Master Suite with a 1800s Half Tester Bed. This room has a view of both the plantation and river.

Cost – $295 (double occupancy)

The Conway Room

First floor Junior Suite with a 1730s Full Tester Rare Acorn Bed. This room has a view of the river and a separate sitting room.

Cost – $245 (double occupancy)

The Hipkins – Bernard Room

First floor Junior Suite with an Early High Back Eastlake Bed. This room has a view of the plantation and a separate sitting room.

Cost – $245 (double occupancy)

Room costs do not include tax. Breakfast is included with room rental.

Please list the rooms in order of what you would like. If your first choice is taken, we will move to your second or third choice. If you do not list a second or third choice, we will move to the next email request.

Once the rooms are booked, we will not take any more reservations.

Our website is due to launch very soon!

To see more of what we are doing at the plantation

Facebook Link

Visit our Facebook Fan Page!


Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | 8 Comments »

Tea Time in Fredericksburg

Jun. 19th 2013

Today, I took a break from the tolls of working on my website (sorry Adam) to have an Afternoon Tea with a dear friend at Pinkadilly Tea House in Fredericksburg. I have been there before and written a blog about it, but the first time we only did lunch. Today it was the whole enchilada… okay the whole pot of tea!



I just love that when you come to the Tea House, your tea cup is always different.

That is one thing I will be doing at our house for our teas!



We filled our tea cups today with Earl Grey Tea, one of my favorites!

Our first course was soup and Quiche.


Crab Soup (which is to die for!) and Ham, Asparagus, White Cheddar and Provolone Cheese Quiche!


Our second course  arrived stacked beautifully before us!


Our Scones with Lemon Curd and Devonshire Cream were:


Cinnamon Raisin


Our Tea Sandwiches were:

Feta and Almond Spread on a Toasted Baguette

Spinach and Feta Puff Pastry

Chicken Salad

Cucumber Salad


Our Desserts were:

Chocolate Truffles

Pindadilly Pieshots

Orange Brownies

Blueberry Cheesecake Cups

Each Course was Heavenly!

If you are ever in Fredericksburg, you must call and get a reservation at this wonderful Tea House!


Also be on the look out for a special announcement coming soon!

If you love Afternoon Tea and you are 8 year old or older

You don’t want to miss this announcement!

Don’t forget to check us our on Facebook!

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Please Share us with your Friends!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | 25 Comments »

Results are in!

May. 6th 2013

Just received my results from my ServSafe Food Management Course exam…

Pass-Bar-Exam-Stamp1 (1)

I passed!

This is just one more step closer to our opening!

I don’t know about you, but the wait is killing me!

We still have some things to complete around the Mansion and grounds before we can open the doors. We were hoping to be open by May 1st, but that isn’t possible with some of the delays we have hit. Could it be by Memorial Day Weekend? I sure hope so, but there is still so much to be done!

This week, I am back in Chesapeake working on our website! We have the layout design completed and all we have to do is add text, photos and the reservation software. Sounds easy right? Argh! With the phone ringing and things going every which way, it has been hard to focus on what to say!

Yes, that’s right; Michelle is speechless… for once.

But I am determined to complete it this week. We still need more photos of the Mansion… with furnishing. So that is going to have to wait until we get that part done. The interior designer is on standby at this point. We still need to finish some minor plaster repairs before we bring in the furnishings. Everything is so connected to the next!

HPC was able to get ONLY 2 high quality pens to commemorating the battle of Gettysburg - July 1-3, 1863 in this the 150th Anniversary of the battle from the small section of blood stained floor planking from the Sheaffer Farmhouse, which was used as a Union Field Hospital during and after the Battle of Gettysburg.

HPC was able to get ONLY 2 high quality pens to commemorating the battle of Gettysburg – July 1-3, 1863 in this the 150th Anniversary of the battle from the small section of blood stained floor planking from the Sheaffer Farmhouse, which was used as a Union Field Hospital during and after the Battle of Gettysburg.

This Saturday we are heading back to the plantation. It is a jammed packed day. We have Bob from The Historic Pen Company coming in to pick up the last of the Witness Tree wood from our trees. We are so excited to see what wonderful pens he will be producing from our wood! The best part is, the tree will still be with us… just in another form. I know allot of you have asked about pre-ordering the pens. Once I get all the information on them, I will let you know!

We also have a member of a Photography Club coming to see the plantation! I can’t wait to see how he views our beloved plantation through his lens! We are working on planning an event with this club at the plantation soon!


Last, but not least, we have a journalist from the King George Journal Newspaper coming to do a follow-up article on our progress to opening. It is so exciting to see how everyone is looking forward to the opening! I will post the article once it is printed.

Some more exciting news!

We have started planning some events for this year!

Mrs. Madison

Mrs. Madison

We are excited to announce that we will be having Mrs. Madison stopping by Belle Grove Plantation in August for afternoon tea! This event will be two parts. At noon on August 24th, we will have a young girl’s afternoon tea with Mrs. Madison. Girls from 8 to 16 years can come to the plantation and enjoy tea and conversation with Mrs. Madison. At 4:00 on August 24th, we will have a Ladies Afternoon Tea with Mrs. Madison. This will be a full afternoon tea and conversation with Mrs. Madison.

The Historic Performer for Mrs. Madison is portrayed by Dr. Lynn Uzzell. From her website, dolleypmadison.com:

“Lynn Uzzell received her B.A. in speech communications at Black Hills State University, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in politics at the University of Dallas. Her doctoral dissertation explored the debates at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. She has taught courses in Political Philosophy, the American Political Tradition, American Rhetoric, and Leadership and the Humanities at Baylor University, the University of Virginia, and the University of Richmond. Dr. Uzzell is currently the scholar in residence at James Madison’s Montpelier and senior editor of ConText, an online resource for James Madison’s Notes of the Constitutional Convention. She has been portraying Dolley Madison for Montpelier since 2010.”

Mr. and Mrs. Madison (Dr. Lynn Uzzell and John Douglas Hall)

Mr. and Mrs. Madison
(Dr. Lynn Uzzell and John Douglas Hall)

We are also excited to announce that we will be having Mr. and Mrs. Madison at Belle Grove Plantation on September 15th for their 219th Wedding Anniversary. We will be having an Anniversary Lawn Dinner with food, music and good conversation with the Madisons!

We will release information about tickets and reservations soon!

Be on the look out for more events and classes to come!

We are also booking social events for this year and beyond!

We have several weddings, baby shower and social club events already booking! If you are interested in booking an event, please contact us as soon as possible. Contact us through email at virginiaplantation@gmail.com or through our Facebook Fan Page Messages.

Facebook Link

Follow us on our Facebook Fan Page for updates!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | 32 Comments »

Tea Time!

Mar. 25th 2013

I have asked one of our readers and fellow blogger to guest blog for us today!

Once we open, we will be available for Afternoon Tea Parties for social groups.

So I thought it would be great fun to get some information on teas from an expert. 

Please enjoy!

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea

As an institution, the event known as afternoon tea followed on from an ancient Oriental social custom. It came to prominence in the 17th century when it became established as an ‘event’ for the lady of the household.

A lady of wealth and privilege wouldn’t dream of going to an Hotel or coffee house, they being male dominated places where business and politics would be freely discussed and so she would invite her friends for an ‘at home’ of tea, gossip and hopefully scandal.

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea

It was also an occasion where one could shove one’s wealth and rank firmly up the noses of one’s contemporaries and social equals and conduct the serious business of one-up-man-ship. Amongst ladies of rank and privilege the main criteria for an invitation to tea to be offered or accepted were wealth, property and social standing. Tea at that time was a highly expensive and valuable commodity and therefore the mere invitation to tea was an ostentatious gesture.

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea

Being so precious the tea caddy became an important a fixture. It would be a solid box (or mini-safe) to which only the Hostess, or possibly a very trustworthy housekeeper, held the keys. Its presence said immediately that one was sufficiently ‘well-heeled’ to provide tea in the first place. Nowadays it would be the equivalent of inviting the neighbours over for drinks and then providing them with only the finest French champagne! The number of servants on hand to actually serve the guests was also a major plus factor in the social status stakes!

Queen Victoria by Bassano

Queen Victoria by Bassano

During the reign of Queen Victoria (1837–1901) afternoon tea began to expand into more of a small meal. The growth in industrialisation and the coming of a reliable artificial light meant that working hours could be extended beyond the restrictions imposed by natural daylight. As the gap between lunch and dinner became longer and longer afternoon tea, of necessity increased in variety and content with the addition of finger sandwiches, biscuits, savouries and cake, in order to fill the gap.

An American Tea Clipper at Sea

An American Tea Clipper at Sea

When, as time passed, the supply of tea from distant lands (India, China, Ceylon) increased in quantity due to the development of faster methods of transportation during the course of the Industrial Revolution, tea began to come within the reach of middle class purses and, eager to emulate the landed upper classes, they rapidly adopted the custom.

Gradually, along with the sandwiches and savouries, rich cakes, iced fancies, glazed pastries and sweetmeats from a bygone era were rediscovered and added to the ‘menu’ Afternoon tea became, for the aspirational Hostess to display her abilities in producing an interesting and exotic array of goodies for ‘The Ladies’ as well as the beverage itself.

At this time of course the Master of The House would be out and about with social, business and financial concerns. The rapidly expanding ‘Gentlemen’s Club’ market would provide for him with such niceties when ‘in town on business’ and of course any children would be confined to the nursery or playroom with a nurse or guardian to enjoy their own, more light-hearted tea-time and to keep them out of sight!

It would not be until the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when women would become suitably emboldened and emancipated to go ‘out to tea’ at places like the Ritz, Selfidges and Harrods for their socialising but that is for another post.

Kevin Houghton

Granny Robertsons Cookbook

A Social, Cultural and Culinary Archive of Great Britain in the 20th Century


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Posted by Michelle Darnell | in General History | 37 Comments »