The Details Matter

Oct. 26th 2013

On Friday, we took deliver of two canopies for the Hipkins-Bernard and Conway Junior Suite as well as the valances for the Turner Master Suite. We are almost done with all the curtains for the bedrooms! We just need to wait for the finally curtains for the Turner Master Suite as well as the half canopy. Then we just have to get the curtains for the Parlor, Formal Dining Room, Small Dining Room, Library, Common Room and the Foyer Room. But the ones we have gotten is a huge step towards finishing!

Not only does it help us cover the windows, but with them in place, we can better able to see what kind of decor we want or need for the room. Knowing that, we can find those pieces and complete the room. The Madison Master Suite, which got its curtains and canopy first is almost done. We just need to find a few portraits of James and Dolley Madison as well as some smaller decor and we can call it done!

Enjoy the pictures of the new arrivals!

Here is the “Before” of the Hipkins-Bernard Junior Suite

Decorating Our Suites at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George, Virginia, Birthplace of James Madison

Here it is now!

Decorating Our Suites at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George, Virginia, Birthplace of James Madison

Decorating Our Suites at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George, Virginia, Birthplace of James Madison

Here is the “Before” of the Conway Junior Suite

Decorating Our Suites at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George, Virginia, Birthplace of James Madison

Here it is now!

Decorating Our Suites at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George, Virginia, Birthplace of James Madison

Decorating Our Suites at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George, Virginia, Birthplace of James Madison

Decorating Our Suites at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George, Virginia, Birthplace of James Madison

Here are the Valances for the Turner Master Suite

Decorating Our Suites at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George, Virginia, Birthplace of James Madison

(This is the window with Carrie Turner’s etching in it)

Decorating Our Suites at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George, Virginia, Birthplace of James Madison

Decorating Our Suites at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George, Virginia, Birthplace of James Madison

This is the Turner Master Suite Bathroom Valance

Decorating Our Suites at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George, Virginia, Birthplace of James Madison

Who says the details don’t matter??

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Belle Grove History, Darnell History | 2 Comments »

Ghost Story Anyone?

Oct. 25th 2013

As we prepare for our busy weekend of ghost hunting, we thought it would be fun to share some of the spooky happenings in and round Belle Grove Plantation. Just to get you in the mood for some chilling and thrilling fun we have in store for you tonight!

Make sure you watch your Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for updates through the day and night as we share in all the fun!

Haunted Lambs Creek Church in King George Virginia is haunted and story told by Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast for their Paranormal Workshop and Ghost Hunt Weekend

Lamb’s Creek Church – King George, Virginia

This story is taken from “Virginia Ghosts” by Jenny Lee, Marguerite du Pont Lee

In King George County on the King’s Highway about thirteen miles from Fredericksburg, on the Rappahannock River side, an interesting Colonial building may be found called Lamb’s Creek Church. Erected in 1769 it is now six miles from a lone gravestone on Muddy Creek marking the site of the Mother Church in use as early as 1710.

In Brunswick parish extending up to Stafford County, in days almost forgotten, far beyond the tide of the years in which we live, Sunday mornings the coaches of the aristocracy rolled from far distant points and over rough roads to the door of Lamb’s Creek Church.

In the company of family and friends and surrounded by retainers a large congregation listed to the delights of paradise glowingly painted, and hell pictured as very real and very hot! The lessons were read from the priceless old ‘Vinegar Bible’, so called owing to a typographical error in the edition, the heading of the Parable of the Vineyard made to read ‘Parable of the Vinegar.’ This Bible was given to Muddy Creek Church about 1716. Stolen after the Civil War, by great good fortune it has been recovered and is in use one each year when a service is held in the church. The old prayer book, also inherited from the Mother Church was printed in 1739 when George II was King.

The devastating War of the Revolution scatted the faithful an altered the lives and fortunes of the people. For fifty years the church doors were closed.

Not until the Civil War did man’s hand shatter and desecrate this relic of a civilization of which the despoiler did not even dream, and could not possibly appreciate. The woodwork was pulled out, the windows and doors broken, and the church used for a stable.

In a bend of the road this large country church may be seen from quite a distance. A vital need in the lives of a generation long passed away, it stands in an isolated spot abandoned and by the world forgot-a mute witness to the  transitoriness of all human religious expression.

Just prior to the desecration of this house of worship by Federal soldiers two Confederate officers, one named Hunter, are said to have entered the church one night seeking refuge from a heavy thunder storm. The flashes of lightning were very vivid, and the thunder deafening. Running in they seated themselves at the door facing the chancel. Presently, for one brief moment the inky darkness was relieved by a great flash of lightning. The two men were dunfound to see kneeling at the chancel rail as if in prayer a woman dressed in white! In pitchy darkness, silently and breathlessly they awaited the next flash. There still kneeled the woman! A third view of the figure was sufficient and both soldiers made a hasty exit into the teeth of the furious storm!

Mr. Thomas Lomax Hunter, a lawyer of King George County, very courteously makes rely to my letter of inqury as follows:

‘My father and uncle were the only Hunters in the Civil War from this county, but I have never heard the story you relate of them and Lamb’s Creek Church.

Lamb’s Creek Church has however been long looked upon by the natives here as haunted, and while I cannot recite any detailed story about it I have no doubt that reputable witnesses of its neighborhood could be put upon the witness stand to prove its ghostly character.’

(One note – Thomas Lomax Hunter was the son of Frederick Hunter and his wife Rose Turner Hunter. Rose was the daughter of Carolinus and Susan Turner, owners of Belle Grove Plantation from 1839 to 1894.)

There are a couple more stories about Lamb’s Creek Church.

It is said that two civil war soldiers can be seen resting on a rainy night. This usually happens on rainy nights and that the church’s windows glow from the inside around the 27th of October. There is also a ghost of a young girl who died of pneumonia. You can see a strange blue light and an apparition of the girl running and playing.

Haunted Marimon in King George Virginia is haunted and story told by Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast for their Paranormal Workshop and Ghost Hunt Weekend

Marmion – King George County, Virginia

This  story is taken from “Virginia Ghosts” by Jenny Lee, Marguerite du Pont Lee

“Marmion, in King George County, Virginia, has been in the family of Mrs. Lucy Lewis Grymes for more than 150 years. Lord Marmion was the last of the title in England, and in his honor William Fitzhugh, emigrated to the Colonies in 1670, named this portion of his vast estate, erecting in 1674, between two splendid springs flowing in the primeval forest, the mansion still standing. One finds to the north the little house from the depths of which countless juleps were cooled; not far distant the old kitchen to which, from smokehouse and dairy, still standing, bacon, butter and cream flowed in a constant stream throughout the generations.

Behind the house the lovely old office stands in a garden, carpeted in spring with single blue hyacinths and yellow primroses, hardly descendants of flowers brought from England long ago. In the attic of this office quite recently Mrs. Grymes found a roll of Colonial money, signed by her husband’s ancestor, Robert Carter Nicholas.

In 1719 John Fitzhugh took unto himself a wife, and Marmion was their home. A grove of pecans, walnuts and maples stand close to this sturdy and picturesque relic of a bygone age; its two secret rooms, one built in the huge chimney about the other, speaking to us of turbulence and of dangers unknown to our generation.

Marmion in 1785 became the property of Major George Lewis, son of Col. Fielding Lewis and Betty Washington. Their great granddaughter, Mrs. Lucy Lewis Grymes, is the fortunate owner today. A mile and a half beyond flows the Potomac River, and in 1782 Philip Fitzhugh, the last of his name at Marmion, is said to have brought to his home, one day, one of those accomplished artisans, contributing by their skill to some of the most beautiful decorations remaining with us from their day. This Hessian soldier was in a dying condition when found by Philip Fitzhugh on the banks of the river. Recovering his health in course of time, the stranger was then desirous of contributing evidence of his skill in return for the kindness shown him. He decorated the walls of the parlor in lovely landscapes and cornucopias filled with flowers, making from Virginia clay and plants the paints he used – clear and beautiful after the passing of 150 years! Owing to Mrs. Gymes’ willingness to share with countless others her treasures, the superb paneling, decorations and mirror in this beautiful parlor at Marmion were transferred into the keeping of the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

In the long age when dangers threatened, before cannon balls from two wars were left embedded as relics in the brick walks leading from the mansion, a chest of valuables was buried. Whether discovered and carried off nobody knows. But Marmion possesses a charming ghost; thieves cannot break in and steal.

Some of the old darkies whose forefathers lived in the ‘Quarters’ on the plantation claim today to have seen the ‘white lady’ walking among the roses and honeysuckle in the little cemetery.

Mrs. Grymes writes: ‘Since my childhood, every now and then guests have spoken of a lovely young girl they have seen from time to time in the house. Twice, I myself, when in the guest-room, have felt there was someone in the room, but have never seen the ghost. During the summer of 1928 Miss Edmonia Goode, an elderly lady from Chase City, Virginia, was staying at Marmion with a group of young people whom she had been chaperoning at a house party in Fredericksburg. It was in the afternoon of a bright sunny day. Miss Goode was lying down on her bed resting, when the door opened an a very beautiful young girl came in and started to open the wardrobe. Miss Goode sat up and exclaimed: ‘Why, how do you do? I did not know there was another guest in this house beside our party.’ The girl turned and looked squarely at her. The face of the Spirit, Miss Goode would recognize anywhere. She arose advancing towards the visitor in order to shake hands….”

(This is where the story ended in the book… sorry)

Haunted Stratford Hall in King George Virginia is haunted and story told by Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast for their Paranormal Workshop and Ghost Hunt Weekend

Stratford Hall – Home of the Lee Family and Robert E. Lee

This story taken from

The Spirits of Stratford Hall 

Paranormal experts, if there are such things, are in general agreement that Virginia is one of the most haunted states, perhaps the most haunted, in the nation. And for good reason. It is the oldest colony in America and there are more surviving old houses here than anywhere else. Plus, since the experts contend that tragic and traumatic deaths are a leading cause for the existence of ghosts, if there are such things as ghosts, then Virginia surely ranks at the top of the list since there has been more blood shed here over the past 400 years dating from Indian attacks on the early settlers on up through the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.

Accounts of lingering spirits blanket the entire map of the Old Dominion, from Winchester south to Bristol, and from Monterey east to Virginia Beach. The Northern Neck is not excluded from this questionable list and, arguably, one of the most haunted houses in this historic area is Stratford Hall. It was here, of course, that Robert E. Lee was born in 1807. The mansion itself dates to the late 1730s. Among its long-ago occupants are some of the most famous names in American history, including Richard Henry Lee, a leader of the Continental Congress, and Light Horse Harry Lee, a hero of the Revolutionary War, and Robert’s father.

As with so many antique estates, there is ample justification for ghostly encounters at Stratford Hall, for along with its majestic eloquence, family members through the centuries have had their share of tragic events. If a visitor to the house today asks a tour guide about ghosts, he or she is told they are not part of the narrative. The guides are trained to “protect” the historical integrity of the site. The key to finding a more positive answer to such a provocative question is to query others. Find a maid, janitor, or better yet, a night security guard, and they may well reveal some of Stratford Hall’s most guarded secrets.

That is precisely what the author did some years ago, and the results were quite surprising. Here are some examples. A domestic worker walked into the library one day to clean it, and then promptly retreated. Her supervisor asked what happened and she replied that she didn’t want to disturb the gentleman inside. What gentleman the supervisor replied. The worker said she saw a figure in old fashioned clothes checking over some papers. The two women then reentered the library. There was no one there. The worker became very frightened and fled the house.

Once, a well known psychic visited. When she passed through the great hall on the second floor, she stopped and said she felt “so many good impressions.” She claimed to see the room full of Lees and that there was dancing, music and entertainment. She added that the Lees were pleased with how the house was being taken care of.

A hostess said her encounter came on a dismal, dark winter afternoon. During a tour, she saw a woman and a child in a room in colonial period costume. She thought it was another hostess but when she later asked the hostess about it she was told she hadn’t even been upstairs. Then she lifted her hand and covered her mouth and said that the first hostess “had finally seen them.” Who? She has seen Ann Lee, the distraught and broken hearted wife of Black Horse Harry Lee, and their little daughter, Margaret, who had died in the house at age two in 1820 after falling down the stairs! Others, including tourists, have reported hearing a phantom woman calling for a child, the sound of a child running, and then both of them laughing, as if they were playing together.

Security guards, too, have experienced various forms of psychic manifestations. One said a lot of mysterious things happen here, especially strange noises at night. Like what? “Loud racket,” he emphasized. “The sounds of heavy furniture being moved around when no one is in the room. Other times we heard rustling sounds, like petticoats and skirts rubbing against chairs and tables, but you never see anything.” One officer said he heard fiddle and harp music on occasion.

Another guard said one night he was sitting in a chair when something unseen grabbed his sleeve and lifted his arm straight up. Also, he added, when he was alone one night reading a book, he got up to make his rounds and when he came back the book had flatly disappeared. One guard told of a new man on the job. “He quit after one hour and wouldn’t even talk about what happened to him.”

Two officers said that on multiple occasions they had seen the apparition of a small boy, about three or four years old, wearing dark purple britches and a light colored purple shirt with ruffled sleeves. Each time they approached the figure, he evaporated before their eyes. One said, “I believe he was a spirit. If he wasn’t, where did he go?” Could it have been the ghost of Robert E. Lee, who moved out of Stratford Hall when he was just three and a half? Another clue suggests that it might be the son of Philip Ludwell Lee, himself the son of Thomas Lee, the founder of the house. According to family tradition, this boy fell down the stairs in the mansion one day in 1779. He was four years old!

Possibly the most terrifying encounters were experienced by J.R. “Butch” Myers, a leather craftsman who lives in Richmond. He travels about demonstrating how 18th century shoes are made. In June 1989, he was at an exhibition at Stratford Hall. He spent the night in a dependency building near the main house. Getting ready for bed, he lit six candles in stands, then heard approaching footsteps outside and assumed it was the security guard making his rounds.

Myers recalled: “I took a couple of steps toward the door when a sudden down draft of freezing cold air hit me, taking my breath away. It was like walking into a cold storage locker. I got goose bumps all over. Just as this happened, there was a thunderous noise in the chimney. It sounded like the whole building was going to collapse. I didn’t find this out until later but the chimney was sealed top and bottom. There was no way anything alive could be in it.”

“If this wasn’t scary enough, and believe me it was,” Myers continued, “I turned around just in time to see the candles go out. They didn’t go out at once, as if blown out by a down shaft of air. They went out one at a time, in sequence, as if someone was snuffing them out!” At first Myers thought someone was playing a joke on him, but then he realized he was alone in the room. He told a security guard what happened, and the man didn’t seem surprised. He just said, “Oh, you’ve just met our friend.”

Myers returned to his room and relit the candles. He said, “Now you can believe this or not, I don’t care, but the icy coldness hit me again, and the racket kicked up in the chimney, which really scared me now, because the guard had told me about it being sealed. Then, someone or something very methodically extinguished each candle again, this time in reverse order!”
“There definitely was something there, a presence or whatever you want to call it. It was enough for me. I said, “Listen, you can have the room. Just let me get my pillow and blanket and I will get out of here.” And I got out of there as quick as I could and went over to another dependency, where the guard was, and I told him I was spending the night with him!”

Myers went back to Stratford Hall five years later for another craft show on the grounds. He refused to stay in the dependency where he had been before, but one evening he walked over to it. “It was a nice gentle breeze blowing,” he says, “but when I got in front of the building, everything was deathly still. Nothing was stirring. It was an eerie feeling. I put my hand on the doorknob and it was like clutching an icicle. That’s as far as I got. I wouldn’t go back into that room. There was something in there that didn’t want me inside.”

“The guards told me it wouldn’t hurt me, but they hadn’t felt what I had in that room. I’m not saying definitely that it was something evil, but I didn’t want to stick around and find out. It had made its point with me. I’m not psychic or anything, but I believe there is something to ghosts and spirits and there’s a lot we don’t understand about all that yet. But I can say for sure that I am certain there is something other worldly at Stratford Hall. There was something unexplained in that room, and one experience with whatever it was, or is, was enough for me!”

If you are interested in seeing Stratford Hall at Halloween, they are hosting a “Spook-tacular Halloween” as part of their annual Halloween program. It will have something for everyone this year. L.B. Taylor, author of over 13 books on the Virginia paranormal, will present a talk on the ghosts of the Northern Neck in the duPont Library. There will be ghost tours, refreshments, craft making, palm and Tarot card readings. You can check their event out on their website at

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in General History | Comments Off on Ghost Story Anyone?