Another Delivery This Morning!

Jun. 18th 2013

I couldn’t wait until the end of the day to write about this delivery!

This morning at 9am, we had a visit from the Fed Ex man!


He brought us a package addresses to

Brett, Michelle and Hurley!

Inside we discovered a wonderful book from Deborah in California! 

The book, “Dawn’s Early Light” is a romantic novel about a woman who dresses as a man in order to follow her man to war. Set during the Revolutionary War, this is the first in a series that works its way through to World War II.

But what made it even more special was a special treat just for Hurley!


Hurley will be coming to the plantation on Friday this week. He will be staying behind with me because he has a photo shoot coming up June 25th with a bride that will be staying at the plantation in July.

Don’t forget Saturday, June 22nd at 10am


We will be receiving our landscaping by flatbed truck!

If you can volunteer, we would welcome you to come and help us make Belle Grove Plantation beautiful again!

Hurley will be joining us!


Please bring the following if you have them:

Work Gloves



Plastic Rain Barrel if it is empty

Pickup Truck to help move items and water

Lawn Chair

Bag Lunch

We will have ice cold water on hand for everyone!

We look forward to seeing you at the plantation!!

Watch Our Facebook Page today!

Facebook Link

We are getting a delivery of furniture today!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | 20 Comments »

Happy Independence Day!

Jul. 5th 2012

Happy Independence Day!

This morning when I woke up, Brett informed me that someone on our Belle Grove Plantation Facebook page had sent us a message. He is from White Stone, Virginia, which is about one and a half hours from Belle Grove. Since 1999 their site has chronicled the restoration of 18th century Enon Hall in Lancaster County, Virginia by a family descended from its original residents.

Thank you to Enon Hall for reminding us about the 4th of July celebration in Port Royal!

In his message, he mention that he and his family were heading to Port Royal, Virginia for their annual 4th of July Celebration. I had remembered reading about this in the Port Royal Historic Society Newsletter when I first started researching Belle Grove. So true to form, I jumped up, got dressed and headed to Port Royal. Brett stayed behind to get dinner ready when I returned around 6pm. He is such a great husband.

Civil War photo of the Evacuation of Port Royal. The house on the other side of the bank is Walsingham Plantation

You may remember Port Royal, Virginia from our hints at the beginning of our blog. Port Royal is located across the Rappahannock River from Port Conway and Belle Grove Plantation and is located in Caroline County.

According to Wikipedia:
“Port Royal is one of the area’s more historic towns. It was first established in 1652 as a port on a navigable portion of the Rappahannock River during an era when waterways were the major method of transportation of people and property in the British Colony of Virginia. It was an important point for export of tobacco, Virginia’s cash crop.

Local tradition holds that Port Royal was named after the Roy family. Dorothy Roy and her husband John owned a warehouse chartered by the crown, a ferry service across the Rappahannock River to King George County and a tavern. In the 21st century, the chimneys of the Roy house are preserved landmarks in the town.

Port Royal was incorporated as a town in 1744. The “town green”, upon which stands today the Town Hall and the firehouse, was forever reserved “for public and civic use”. Shipping of property from the port began to decline after completion of railroads which began in Virginia in the 1830s. The last scheduled passenger ship service ended in 1932, supplanted by highways. However, Port Royal was served by the new highways which became U.S. Route 17 and U.S. Route 301, with their crossroads at Port Royal.

Probably Port Royal’s most notable claim to fame is that John Wilkes Booth was killed about two miles outside town by Sgt. Boston Corbett, part of a contingent of federal troops, at the now obsolete Garrett farmstead (look for prominent markers along northbound Rt. 301) on April 26, 1865 after Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln on the night of April 14, 1865 in Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC.”You

You can also see more history on Port Royal at their website:

The Port Royal Annual 4th of July Celebration was free to the public. This festival was a celebration with period dress from Colonial to Civil War periods. They had patriotic music and speeches and 18th century dancing. There was even a horse drawn carriage for you to tour Historic Port Royal in. As you tour the town, you can see these beautiful historic homes, which have dated sign for you in front.

The Lekie House 1775

The Pearson House 1775

The Riverview House 1846

The Tavern 1750

The Timberlake 1750

The Townfield House 1745

The Brockenbrough date unknown some time before 1765

St Peter’s Church 1835

St Peter’s Church 1835 – Interior

St Peter’s Church 1835 – Interior

St Peter’s Church 1835 – Interior

I meet some really wonderful people who shared their love of history with me. I also met the mayor of Port Royal, Mrs. Nancy Long, who welcomed me to the area and told me that they were excited that we were opening Belle Grove. Brett and I are looking forward to becoming part of this celebration next year!

The Rappahanock Colonial Hertage Society –

The Rappahanock Colonial Hertage Society –

Westmoreland Long Hunters

Caroline County Minute Men

Time Traveler

13th Virginia Infantry Co A Montpelier Guard –

13th Virginia Infantry Co A Montpelier Guard 5 –

23rd Regiment USCT –

23rd US Colored Troops – and 54th Mass Volunteer Infantry Reg Co B –

Hundley Carriages, Inc –

Port Royal Mayor Nancy Long

Afterwards, I made a quick stop at Belle Grove, to see what damage we might have had from the recent storms. Happily I can report that Belle Grove is safe and sound. Two hundred twenty-one years, and she is still standing strong. We did lose a branch from one of our older trees at the front entry. This tree has had damage from a lightening strike as well, so I am sure that had something to do with the branch breaking off. We also lost one of the Cypress trees that lines the front drive in. The caretaker had already removed it, but you can see the way the wind just twisted this tree off. Wow.

Belle Grove Plantation – Tree at the front entry gate

Belle Grove Plantation – Tree along the front drive

I am also happy to report that James and Dolley’s nest on top of the chimney is still there. With the high winds, I expected it to have been blown away. I am also happy to report that both James and Dolley were at the nest. We are glad to see James back. He had us worried that something had happened to him since we had not seen him the last several times we were at the house. The caretaker also told us that the eagles have been flying around a good bit lately. Could be that they are looking to pick off James and Dolley’s nest.

Belle Grove Plantation – Dolley on her nest

On my way home, as I rode into Tappahannock, I noticed an antique store that was opened. So you guessed it, I had to stop. And score! I found two more wonderful tea plates to go with my tea cups and saucers.

A to Z Antiques – Tappahannock VA

A to Z Antiques – Tappahannock VA

I arrived back home, just in time as the food was coming off the grill and got to spend some family time with our son, his girlfriend and my father. I have to say for a Wednesday, it was a really good day!

Brett and Hurley

Brett, and I and even Hurley want to wish each of you’re a wonderful 4th of July. Next year, who knows, we might have to have our own cookout at Belle Grove Plantation!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 54 Comments »

Life is like a box of chocolates… you never know what tea cup you may find!

Jun. 17th 2012

Brett is traveling for business again this weekend and week, so you know what that means! More tea cup and antique shopping! Since Father’s Day was this weekend, I asked my father to ride along. I have pretty much checked all the local area’s antique stores and flea markets for tea cups, so I decided to change locations. We heading up Route 17 to Gloucester, Virginia and then jumped on to Route 33 and then to Route 3 (Kings Highway), which takes us up through the Northern Neck of Virginia and to Route 301 (James Madison Highway) that takes us to Belle Grove Plantation.

Our first stop was at an antique store that Brett and I have passed many times on the way to the plantation from our current home in Chesapeake. It is located in Saluda, Virginia, just outside Gloucester. It is called the Treasure Antiques Thrift store. I met the owner as soon as I came in. Once I told him what we were doing and what I was looking for, he quickly helped me locate several cups that met my needs. He even worked out a good deal for me so we could get all of them! What a score! I did have a picture of him and the inside of the shop, but sadly I lost it along with three other pictures when I downloaded some pictures last night. (Bummer) But I know we will be returning so I can get another one next time! John was also helpful in telling us where some other locations were that we might want to hit up! And he even had a map with all the antique stores in the area that we could take with us! I knew after this, it was going to be a good day!


After we left we hit up two of the locations John had recommended that were close, but sadly one we couldn’t find. The second one, we did find, but I was only able to find one plate there that fit my needs. There was a second plate that I was on the fence about, but decided to leave it. Now I wish I didn’t because it would have matched a cup and saucer perfectly. Guess I will have to go back and hope that it’s there!

From here we headed towards Kilmarnock across the Rappahannock River. Just as we crossed the river, I sighted a small house that had a sign that read “Revolutionary War / Civil War / Indian Artifacts”. I quickly made a U-turn and headed to the house. What a great stop!


As you walk into this store, you are greeted by a Union soldier’s uniform and Indian Shirt with beading. The front room is filled with anything and everything Revolutionary and Civil War time periods. It was overwhelming. I just didn’t know where to begin. The back door opened and I looked up half expecting Mel Gibson’s character, “Benjamin Martin” to appear. The owner, Chris Trimble greeted me and helped me locate several of his prized items.

The first was a portrait of Mary Ball Washington, mother of George Washington. This was really something to see! (It was also one of the lost pictures from my download) Chris explained that it was of Mary when George would have been just 1 ½ years old. He also told us that there was a companion portrait of Augustine Washington, George Washington’s father, that went with this portrait of Mary. That portrait is located in the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. The next piece he showed us was a snuff box. He told us that it had been handed down through his family and had once been owned by Henry “Light-Horse Harry” Lee and Robert E. Lee! (another lost picture). Then he showed us two buttons from the uniform of the paymaster on the Titanic. (another lost picture-but don’t worry! We are going back!)

Chris continued to show us around looking at buttons from the Revolutionary and Civil War time periods, swords, uniforms, dish, Indian Artifacts and so much more. Chris also makes and restores period furniture. I think we are going to have to look into this when we get the furniture for the house!

We left there and head to a restaurant we passed as we crossed the bridge called “Willaby’s on the Rappahannock” for some hamburgers and a great view of the river.

Then it was back to Route 3 and up towards Belle Grove. This drive was wonderful! It was filled with small towns and crossroads. But what struck me was the fact that this was the road that great men traveled. As we made our way up, we passed Stratford Hall, home of the Lee Family and Robert E. Lee (just 20 minutes from Belle Grove) and the birthplace of George Washington (just 15 minutes from Belle Grove) and the birthplace of James Monroe (just 10 minutes from Belle Grove). We also passed Vineyards and Wineries and antique shops!

Our last antique stop was just 10 minutes from Belle Grove. It is a big red barn set up in a flea market style. I scored big here!

Then we head to our favorite candy stop in King George, Mary’s Cakery and Candy Kitchen,  where my father purchased a small bag of candy. He told me that he was going to eat just a couple, but they didn’t last long. They were pretty much gone by the time we reached Belle Grove. I knew they wouldn’t last. They are so addictive!

Belle Grove – Plantation side

Belle Grove – River side

We made a quick stop at Belle Grove so my father could see it and I could get some more pictures of the house and “Dolley”, our resident osprey.  She was being her normal self, screeching and flying around because someone was there. As she flew off the nest, I walked around to the Riverside to take a few pictures of the house and of her flying and landing back on the nest. As I walked back around to the Plantation side, something caught my eye. I reached down and picked up what looks to be some kind of pottery. So I put it in my pocket and headed back to the car.

On a closer look of this piece, it looks like pottery and it looks like it has a barnacle attached to it. The barnacle is worn down somewhat. I am thinking maybe it was in the river at one point and it washed up during a flood. I am not sure. If anyone thinks they know what it is, let me know! I would love to figure this one out.

We ended our day with a visit to Hornes  Truck Stop in Port Royal for an old fashion hamburger. Anyone that travels Route 17 through Port Royal knows about this place! One of the best stops for fast food on Route 17. And it is only yards away from the site where John Wilkes Booth was killed at Garrett’s Farm.

All and in all it was a great day. Great finds, great food and good company. So now, on Father’s Day with Brett still away, I guess I have only one thing to do… go antique shopping.

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 63 Comments »