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?

Ghost Stories

Oct. 24th 2013

The Time is Fast Approaching and there is a nervous tension in the air!

Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast and Southeast Virginia Paranormal Investigations host Paranormal Workshop and Ghost Hunts at Belle Grove Plantation!

Friday Night starts our Halloween Ghost Hunts at Belle Grove Plantation!

If you can’t be here, don’t worry, we will be sending out updates throughout the weekend on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!


We are going to give away one Ghost Hunt Ticket for Saturday, October 26th or Halloween, Thursday, October 31st!

We want to hear YOUR best Ghost Experiences!

Starting Now until 3pm, Friday, October 25th, write your best ghost experience story. Don’t forget to include where it happened it! (City and State or Country) The best story will win the free Ghost Hunting ticket! This is a $50 value!

Since our comment section isn’t working here on our new website blog, you can post your story on our old blog or Facebook page.

Either way make sure you get it in before the “dead” line!

No ghost writers please!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | 1 Comment »

Belle Grove Plantation Makes Press for Halloween!

Oct. 24th 2013

On Wednesday, the King George Journal released an article about Belle Grove Plantation!

How awesome is this!

King George Journal Newspaper release an article on Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast talking about the Paranormal Workshop and Ghost Hunt for Halloween!

by Richard Leggett

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Halloween Season brings ghost hunters to Belle Grove

King George Journal Newspaper release an article on Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast talking about the Paranormal Workshop and Ghost Hunt for Halloween!

Historic Belle Grove Plantation, the birthplace of President James Madison that is now King George’s most luxurious bed and breakfast, will host paranormal investigators and ghost hunters for the next week as it participates in Halloween activities.

“Is Belle Grove Plantation haunted? Since arriving on the property, we have had several personal experience as well as stories told to us about others experiences,” said Michelle Darnell, who operates the bed and breakfast and event venue with her husband, Brett.

“In the time we have lived at the plantation, we have to say that none of the experiences are evil or malicious in nature. We feel they are just those that came before us that loved this plantation and never wanted to leave,” Darnell said.

The Darnell’s are hosting a Paranormal Workshop and Ghost Hunts Oct. 25, 26 and 31. The workshop will be Saturday, Oct. 26 featuring investigative medium Laine Crosby from 10:30 am to noon.

King George Journal Newspaper release an article on Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast talking about the Paranormal Workshop and Ghost Hunt for Halloween! Meet Laine Crosby

From 1pm to 6pm a Paranormal Team called Southeast Virginia Paranormal Investigations will be at Belle Grove to teach would-be ghost hunters how to hunt for ghosts the right way.

On Oct. 25, 26 and 31, the SVPI team will host a Ghost Hunt at Belle Grove to see if the historic plantation is actually haunted. “We have had them here before and have gotten lots of results.” Darnell said. “And the funny thing is, ‘Are you haunted’ seems to be the second question we are asked on our tours.”

King George Journal Newspaper release an article on Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast talking about the Paranormal Workshop and Ghost Hunt for Halloween!

The SVPI ghost hunters hosting the Ghost Hunt at Belle Grove are from Newport News. “This paranormal team of investigators has years of experience and is working on a new television pilot, ‘Paranormal Apprentice’. Belle Grove Plantation will be their second episode.” Darnell said.

“If you have ever watched shows like ‘Ghost Hunters’ or ‘Ghost Adventures’ and wanted to be a part of a real paranormal investigation, then this is the event for you!,” Darnell declared.

King George Journal Newspaper release an article on Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast talking about the Paranormal Workshop and Ghost Hunt for Halloween!

King George Journal Newspaper release an article on Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast talking about the Paranormal Workshop and Ghost Hunt for Halloween!

King George Journal Newspaper release an article on Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast talking about the Paranormal Workshop and Ghost Hunt for Halloween!

SVPI will bring all their paranormal equipment and will be taking Belle Grove visitors and guests o nighttime paranormal investigations. The Ghost Hunters will be conducted from 8pm to 4am. Darnell said suites for overnight guests are still available, but urged visitors to call to book a suite or check availability.

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Belle Grove History, Darnell History | Comments Off on Belle Grove Plantation Makes Press for Halloween!

Giving and Receiving

Oct. 23rd 2013

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”
― Mother Teresa

The last few days have been so amazing for us. Not just because we have been busier than we have in the past or that we have met some of the most wonderful people. But because we have received so much this week that it has really taken our breath away.

We have received some of the most meaningful things at the plantation that we can’t even begin to put them into word. It is beyond our greatest expectations and has caused our hearts to burst with all the love and support we have gotten from others.

The first to arrive on our door step was two boxes of books from Robert in Nevada. He had written to me and told me about these books that belonged to his father. His father, John M. Wilson MD,  had a deep love of the Civil War and History and was a member of the Cleveland Civil War Round Table. Now that his father has passed, Robert wanted them to go somewhere others like his father could enjoy them. We asked Robert to place his father’s name in each of the books before sending them so in the future, his father and his name would be part of the historic library.

When I opened the box, I didn’t expect what we got! These books are just beautiful! Each one is leather tooled covers with a picture of the subject on the front. It color is a silver-gray and gives these books a wonderful finish. These books have now found a place among our “American History” section of our “James Madison / Belle Grove Plantation Library”.


Civil War Books donated to Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast / James Madison Library in King George. Virginia

Civil War Books donated to Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast / James Madison Library in King George. Virginia

Civil War Books donated to Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast / James Madison Library in King George. Virginia

American History Section

Books donated to Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast / James Madison Library in King George. Virginia

American Life Section

Civil War Books donated to Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast / James Madison Library in King George. Virginia

General Interest Section

Civil War Books donated to Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast / James Madison Library in King George. Virginia

Found Fathers /  Founding Mothers / Revolution / Constitution Section

This section could really use some books if you have any on these subjects!

Civil War Books donated to Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast / James Madison Library in King George. Virginia

James Madison Section

Of all the sections this one is in the most need!

If you have any books on James Madison, please consider donating them to our historic library!

The next gift was just as wonderful. Dorothy was part of a group of ladies that came to the plantation last week for a tour. She and the ladies had a wonderful time. I personal enjoyed sharing Belle Grove with them and got just as excited seeing their faces as they saw each room.

Dorothy had told me that her husband, John Halpin, who had passed away was a fan of chess. She had caught sight of our chess set in the library and had told me that her late husband had a set that she would like to give to Belle Grove. She told me then that it was a better set than our crystal pieces and that it would look wonderful in the library.

She came over on Tuesday, after missing me on Monday to deliver the set. I was again blown away by the gift. This set is so elegant and so well made! The detail in each piece shows the love and care the creator use in making it. And to know that her husband spent hours enjoying such a set as well as knowing our guests will be just as fortunate just warmed our hearts. It now graces our library on a game table with two chairs waiting for players to come along and love them.

Chess Set donated to Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast  James Madison Library King George, Virginia

Chess Set donated to Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast / James Madison Library in King George. Virginia

Chess Set donated to Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast / James Madison Library in King George. Virginia

Chess Set donated to Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast / James Madison Library in King George. Virginia

Chess Set donated to Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast / James Madison Library in King George. Virginia

Chess Set donated to Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast / James Madison Library in King George. Virginia

Chess Set donated to Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast / James Madison Library in King George. Virginia

Our next gift came today and has brought such beauty to our Madison Master Suite. Trish Bailey of Trish Bailey Designs brought us two wonderful flower arrangements to place in our Master Bath. They are unique and colorful and fill the space just as we had hoped. It was such a wonderful gift, not only the flowers, but her talent that she gave us free of charge. They are just … beautiful.

Flowers donated to Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast / James Madison Library in King George. Virginia

Our last gift surprised me this afternoon. After running some errands, I arrived back at the plantation to two very large boxes on our porch. I started running through my head wondering if we had something coming. And for the life of me, I couldn’t think of what I missed.

I pulled them into the kitchen and cut away the ties and opened the first box.

Inside I found two canvas wrapped in paper.

Still I wondered what it could be.

After I pulled out the first canvas, I still didn’t know what I had.

It was on opening the second box did I realize that these canvas were all one picture cut into three parts.

When you place them together, you have …

James Madison Portrait given to Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast / James Madison Library in King George. Virginia

James Madison!

The gift was from our daughter, Alexa and her boyfriend, Young for our 27th Wedding Anniversary on Friday. The pictures all together measure 4 feet tall and 2 feet, 8 inches wide! It is so big! The photo is of a statue of James Madison.

I tried the three parts over the mantle in the Parlor, but I think it looks a little too big for that space. I think we are going to place it in the library on the large wall between the two Common Room doors with the accent lights on it. What better place for a large picture of James Madison than in the “James Madison / Belle Grove Plantation” Library!

James Madison Portrait given to Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast / James Madison Library in King George. Virginia

Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast  James Madison Library King George, Virginia

Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast  James Madison Library King George, Virginia

We can’t even begin to tell you how blessed we feel!

It is just beyond any words we can say. We do want to thank everyone that have supported us, given of their time or resources or both and have followed along with us each and every day. This has been an amazing journey that still to this day brings me to tears. In my mind all I can keep saying is, “How did I ever get so lucky, so blessed to be here? How did I ever desire all this and more?”

“Encourage, lift and strengthen one another. For the positive energy spread to one will be felt by us all.

For we are connected, one and all.”

― Deborah Day

Thank you with all of our hearts!

Brett and Michelle Darnell

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Belle Grove History, Darnell History | Comments Off on Giving and Receiving

Sarah Elizabeth Has A Story To Tell

Oct. 20th 2013

Recently we held two contests to name and give history to one of our newest portraits. After 195 names suggestions, Dolley Madison of Montpelier narrowed it down to just ten. We opened voting to the public on Facebook and she received her name as Sarah Elizabeth.

We also needed her history so we could tell those that visit where she came from and how she came to be at Belle Grove Plantation. The contest rules were that it needed to be a short story (2500 to 7000 words) and had to incorporate her history into a time period and people of Belle Grove Plantation without making her a relative. We didn’t want to get her history confused or mistakenly added to the true history of Belle Grove Plantation.

The contest ended on September 30th with so many stories that it took us longer than we expected to read them all! They were all very good and really brought Sarah Elizabeth to life. And we really wish would could pick all of them! But after much thought, we have selected the story by Jean Marie Moore Graham of Virginia. Jean will be receiving a free night in the Conway Junior Suite where Sarah Elizabeth is now.

Congratulation Jean!

Below is her short story.

The Portrait of Sarah Elizabeth at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast


          In 1698, upon the death of her grandfather Captain Anthony Savage, Elizabeth Thornton Conway received 700 acres of what is now Belle Grove Plantation in King George County, Virginia.  It remained Elizabeth Conway’s property until her son, Francis Conway I became of age and inherited it in 1717.  About this same time, Francis Conway I and Rebecca Catlett were married and during the next few years had six children.  Then, in 1736, Francis died.  A year later, the widow Rebecca met and married John Moore, a widower and well-known businessman who was living in the Port Royal area in the Colony of Virginia.

Not much is known about John Moore although some researchers claim his family may have settled in the southern part of the Colony of Virginia.  However, no records have been found to prove this.  As time passed, most people came to believe the story that followed him to the Port Royal area…that he was from the south, that he was a widower with a young daughter, Jane, and that he also had with him a young girl, Sarah Elizabeth, who had become his ward about ten years earlier after both her parents were killed. After John’s wife died, he and both girls had moved to a boarding house in Port Royal.  Then, in 1737, after John married Rebecca Catlett Conway, they all moved to her homestead on the King George County side of the Rappahannock River.   Records show that around this time, the plantation property began being referred to as Belle Grove.  Perhaps John thought the place needed a new name — a name that was easier to remember and easier to pronounce than “Mangecemuzen,” the Indian name it had been called in earlier times.

Sarah Elizabeth was probably about sixteen or seventeen when John Moore and Rebecca Conway were married. Sarah was long remembered by those who knew her as being quite lovely with green eyes and dark hair. After John and the family had settled at Belle Grove, many people noticed how quiet Sarah was and often commented on how sad she seemed. She had been part of John’s family since she was very young and was likely still brooding over the loss of his wife.   At other times, she seemed rather impetuous and house servants were often puzzled, never quite knowing what she might say or do next. Friends and family claim Sarah stated many times that she had no intention of ever marrying anyone. As she became more carefree and adventurous, family members and acquaintances worried about her safety because she was so strong-willed.  She was very headstrong and would do whatever she wanted, often alone.   As time went on, although Sarah Elizabeth’s mood swings were less, the family continued not knowing what to expect of her. The house servants whispered about her boldness and her ever-changing personality.  They, too, wondered and worried about what she might say or do next.

Apparently, Sarah Elizabeth soon learned to love life on the plantation where she was now feeling free and content.  Everyone talked about how she loved watching the abundance of wildlife at Belle Grove and how she would sit and gaze at the river for hours at a time. She was excited to wander into the yard at evening time where she would usually see deer grazing or rabbits scurrying by.  She spent hours reading to little Jane and teaching her the art of stitchery. Likely, Sarah had learned to read and write at an early age and she was very adept at needlework.  As time passed, Sarah also spent time helping to care for little William, John and Rebecca’s new son. She also liked to garden but was discouraged from working in the Belle Grove garden.  The house servants claimed they often had to lead her away while trying to make her understand that gardening was their task and not hers. Often she would sit quietly near the garden watching the servants as they pulled weeds and gathered vegetables. As time went on, she grew more pleasant and warmhearted.  Everyone soon realized Sarah Elizabeth was no longer lonely and that her days of sadness and brooding were gone.

And, so the story of Sarah Elizabeth continues.  One day while she was visiting friends nearby, she was introduced to a young man who had traveled to Port Royal on business.  His name was Thomas Smithson and he was from a northern city, a place where she had never been and had only read about:  Baltimore.  He claimed that he worked as a cooper and that he had sailed to Port Royal with a load of barrels and tubs.  Sarah had never met a cooper before. No one seemed to know much about this man called Thomas. He seemed a bit mysterious and Sarah Elizabeth was enthralled.  Thomas was tall with dark hair and bright blue eyes.  He was polite with a keen sense of humor.  He made her laugh. Household members and servants were aware that the two of them spent hours walking through the grounds at Belle Grove.  They watched as the couple picked wildflowers and strolled along the edge of the lawn near the river, often holding hands.  Sarah was granted permission to invite Thomas to dine with the family and he accepted her invitations several times. Everyone seemed to enjoy his company. Still, no one really knew much about this cooper named Thomas Smithson.  Who was he?  Did he have good intentions?

Although at first she pretended to have no marked feelings for him, it was apparent that Sarah was quite smitten with Thomas, as he was with her.  He stayed in the Port Royal area for several days and finally, when he told her he had to leave, she promised she would write to him.  He gave her the details of where he would be and promised he would return as soon as he could.  Then, so the story continues, he looked into her beautiful green eyes and asked if she would consider having her portrait painted.  He told her he would make arrangements to have it sent to him if for some reason he couldn’t get back to the Virginia Colony right away.  Sadly, Sarah then accompanied Thomas to the road that led to the river where a ship would take him back to Baltimore.  She desperately wanted to believe that Thomas would return to Belle Grove and to her.  But, she finally decided that should he not return she did want him to have a portrait of her. She was determined to remind him of the wonderful time they had during their days together at Belle Grove.  A portrait would surely help. Everyone knew Sarah was in love, although she wasn’t quite ready to admit it.

Soon she heard about a traveling artist heading for the village of Port Royal across the river from Belle Grove.  Sarah couldn’t believe this exciting news…this artist was a portrait painter!   Not wanting to be too impetuous, she thought about this news for a day or two.  Finally, she decided it was time to have her portrait painted.  She sent word by one of the family servants to a friend in Port Royal asking to be notified when the traveling artist arrived.  A few days later, when she heard that he was there, she crossed the Rappahannock River to meet with him, accompanied by the servant girl, Mary.  The artist’s name was Rufus.  He was tall and thin with squinty dark eyes and a beard.  It was impossible to guess his age.  He was dressed in dark high-waisted breeches and a paint-splattered shirt and carried a satchel filled with brushes and small containers of paint.  He truly looked like an artist and he was friendly and polite. Sarah was excited when he told her that he would come to Belle Grove to paint her portrait and for her to be ready by the end of the following week. After chatting for a few minutes, they decided on the size portrait she thought Thomas would like. Certainly, Rufus reminded her that posing would be stressful as she would have to sit still for hours at a time.   He also likely reminded her to be ready when he arrived, dressed in whatever she decided was the right attire.  And, he would have reminded her that she would have to wear the same clothes and headdress each day until the portrait was finished.

According to Mary, when she and Sarah got back to Belle Grove, Mary helped her try on dress after dress. First, Sarah donned a dress with a green satin bodice.  She decided it was not the look she wanted.  Then she tried a black cotton dress trimmed with rows of soft flat lace. Nothing seemed to be what she had in mind.  She finally decided on a rather plain dark-colored dress. With Mary’s help, she fastened an elaborate ruffled collar to the dress.  Sarah asked Mary to help her try some different hair styles.   She insisted that Mary snip some of her hair a bit shorter so she could brush it softly around her face.  She was anxious to make a good impression on Rufus, the artist, and she wanted to look her best for the portrait. After much deliberation, she decided to wear a strand of pearls and a beaded headdress that had once belonged to her mother.  It was adorned with strings of pearls creating a beautiful contrast on her dark hair.  Sarah knew this elaborate headdress, along with the ruffled collar, would draw attention to her face.  She had been told that many itinerant artists were quite skilled and painted with great attention to the face, especially the eyes, in order to capture a good likeness. If the likeness was extraordinary, word would spread quickly and the reputation of the artist would grow.  Rufus finally arrived and somehow, Sarah Elizabeth knew that the two of them would work well together.  And, so they did.

Sarah Elizabeth sat in a chair for many hours over a period of several days.  Her back ached and her arms grew stiff.  Many times, she desperately wanted to close her tired green eyes and take a long nap.  Mary watched as she sat quietly with her hands folded in her lap knowing that because of Sarah’s promise to Thomas she would persevere. Surely, Sarah thought about Thomas constantly knowing the portrait would make him happy.  Finally, the portrait was done. It was beautiful and Sarah was elated.  And, according to Mary, Rufus seemed quite satisfied that he had painted a fine portrait.  Mary watched as Sarah thanked Rufus profusely and paid him his expected fee.  Sarah spent the next few days trying to decide how to get the portrait to Thomas. But she procrastinated and the portrait stayed in the parlor leaning against the wall above the fireplace mantle. Time seemed to stand still for Sarah.

The story continues: Months passed and one day while sitting out on the lawn staring at the river, Sarah Elizabeth heard a horse and buggy approaching. She rose quickly and ran to greet the visitor.   To her surprise it was her beloved Thomas Smithson riding up, unannounced.  Of course, she was excited beyond words!  During the next few days, they spent hours and hours together, holding hands and whispering.  Neither Sarah nor Thomas realized that the servants were watching their every move, as was young Jane.  The couple walked their favorite paths, often strolling for an hour or more without speaking a word.  Then, sometimes they would chatter and laugh uncontrollably. It was likely about this time that Sarah and Thomas finally admitted to one another that they were in love and that they wanted to be together forever.  But, for some reason, they weren’t ready to share this news with friends or family.  Apparently, the two of them were plotting to run away together…perhaps to be married.  Who knows?

According to Mary, the servant girl, she watched one morning as Sarah Elizabeth gathered a few clothes, along with the pearl-adorned headdress and ruffled collar, and hurriedly tossed them into a large velvet bag. Sarah had also grabbed several shillings from a secret hiding place, stashing them in a small red and gold reticule. She waved to Mary and gave Jane and little William quick embraces before running out the door.   She and Thomas had told no one their plans and off they went, carriage wheels churning up clouds of dust as they drove off.   Mary, the servant girl, watched with tears in her eyes from behind a curtained window as Sarah and Thomas drove away, heading north.  In her heart, Mary knew they were gone for good.  She was right — they were never heard from again.  Did they get married?  No one knows.  No one knows if she remained Sarah Elizabeth, the ward of John Moore, or if she became Sarah Elizabeth Smithson, the wife of Thomas.

People talked for months about Sarah Elizabeth and Thomas and their hasty departure.  Certainly, John Moore was quite distraught, as was the entire family. They all loved Sarah and thought of her as a member of the family.  They were all sad and concerned.  Why had the young couple left so suddenly?  What might have happened to them?  However, remembering that Sarah Elizabeth did have an impetuous personality, many people weren’t entirely surprised.  Even though they tried to imagine that Sarah and Thomas were happy and living a new life, family members were shocked and disappointed that they had not been informed of any plans.  John sent out search parties several times during the following months.  Sadly, no one could find the impulsive, love-struck couple. Occasionally there were rumors that the two of them had been seen in Baltimore. However, there is no record that anyone at Belle Grove, nor any nearby friends, ever heard a word from either of them.

Time went by and one day the heartbroken John decided to remove Sarah’s portrait from where it leaned on the mantle. He hung it permanently in the parlor at Belle Grove where it remained for many years. John died in 1749 never knowing what happened to Sarah Elizabeth.  John’s widow, Rebecca, until the day she died in 1761, likely continued to wonder what might have happened to Sarah and Thomas.  To this day, no one knows where they went or why they left without telling anyone their plans.

Many years have passed and Sarah Elizabeth’s lovely portrait has now been moved to Belle Grove’s Conway Room. Visitors to the beautiful Belle Grove Plantation agree that the mysterious portrait depicts her as calm and content.  Yet, she has left us with a secret…a puzzling and intriguing story.  No one knows the answer.  Meanwhile, the portrait hangs for everyone to admire.  Guests will gaze at the portrait and wonder about Sarah Elizabeth for years to come. And, surely her lovely green eyes will continue to keep a keen watch on Belle Grove.

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | Comments Off on Sarah Elizabeth Has A Story To Tell

Blueberry and Lemon

Mar. 7th 2013


If you are hungry and haven’t had a good meal in a few hours…

You don’t want to read this blog!

You have been warned!

Tonight I made a new recipe. It’s not anything out of this world or dramatic in appearance.

They just came out so good that I had to share them! 

They are….


Blueberry and Lemon Pancakes!


1 3/4 cups All Purpose Flour

1/4 Salt

1 tablespoon heaping Baking Powder

1/3 cups Sugar

1 1/2 cups Milk

1 Lemon (juice and zest)

1 large Egg

1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla

2 tablespoons melted Butter

1 pint of Blueberries


Heat your griddle or skillet to medium.

In a large bowl, mix your dry ingredients (not blueberries). In a separate bowl, mix your wet ingredients (not blueberries). After mixing, add your wet ingredients to you dry ingredients. Mix until smooth, but may have a few limps in it. You want it thick as a normal pancake batter. If it looks too thin, add a little more flour. If it looks to thick, add a little milk. Once you have the batter right, add blueberries and gently stir them. Don’t over mix or you will break open your blueberries.


Grease you griddle or skillet with butter or cooking spray. Using a ladle, pour onto you cooking surface. Remember to leave enough space for them to spread out.


You will know when to flip them when you see small bubbles forming around the edges. You can peak too to see if they are golden brown. Flip and cook until golden brown on the other side.

Serve warm with Butter and Maple Syrup.

Next time I make these, I am going to use a Blueberry and Strawberry Compote instead of syrup. But you can see from the pictures… butter and syrup worked nicely too!



To see more photos of foods we have made

Visit our Facebook Fan Page and see our Album called Food!

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Don’t forget to get your Cookie Contest Recipes Submitted!

Click on James Madison below for instructions on how to enter!

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Deadline is March 31st!

No Entry Required!


Please consider making a donation to help us restore our three outbuildings and turn one into a museum!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Food and Recipes | 67 Comments »

Decisions, Decisions

Mar. 5th 2013

crazy smiley

Wow, the last few days have been pretty much a blur for us! We had a last minute meeting at the plantation on Sunday and didn’t make it home until close to midnight. But the meeting was good and now we working on scheduling contractors to come in to do last minute minor repairs, painting, system changes, landscaping and furnishing the plantation.

Our goal is to get as much scheduled and done now before the March 19th Public Hearing so we can hit the ground running after that. The Public Hearing meeting on March 19th is the last one to get our final approval for zoning. After that, we can get our business license and get all the other stuff done.

Our Osprey Babies from 2012

Our Osprey Babies from 2012

We have our list going on what needs to be done to get the door open. First, we have to get the Osprey Nest removed from our chimney and moved to a new location. Hopefully we can get this done before they return for the year. The Osprey generally returns around March or April so our time is running out. There is an Osprey nest here in Chesapeake that is located within view of the highway. I have been watching that site for their return. This morning, I saw one of them! I just hope we aren’t too late!

The next thing we need to do is get all the systems checked out in the Mansion. This mansion was restored between 1997 and 2003 and had upgraded systems added. We are completely wired for anything and have a geo-thermal system. But since the restoration, no one has lived in the Mansion. So things didn’t get used.


We also need to do some painting inside and out. The Mansion has settled some over that last ten years and a few stress cracks have shown up on some of the archways. That is an easy fix. We also will be changing the color of two of the rooms. Outside, we just need to touch up some of the paint and repaint the rails white.

Sunset at Belle Grove

Sunset at Belle Grove

While all this is going, we have to get the contractor to install the new driveway, parking and storm water drainage. We also need to get the bricks out of the ground so we can get the grading on the grounds done. Then we need to install the sidewalks and arrival space with the bricks we pulled. There are also three trees we need to remove. Then there is the landscaping. We need to get our plan down and get the owner to approve it so when you arrive at the plantation, it will be beautiful again.

And while that is going, we have the interior designers working on getting the furnishing we want. Colors, fabrics, chairs, tables, beds, pictures and on and on! We also have to get with a book dealer to get our library stocked!

We also have to get the website finished and photographs done of the plantation for the website.


Then there are the decisions….

Do we want this color or that color? Do we like the flowers, trees and shrubs the landscaper has picked out? If not, we do we want? Do we want a gravel driveway or paved gravel or a tar and gravel driveway? Do we want to use brick or pavers for the sidewalk? When we get the trees cut down, what do we want to do with the wood? Where do we want the formal garden to start? What glasses do we want? Can we get the silverware we want to use? Antiques or reproductions?


These are the questions that are running through our minds these days.

We need your help!

We are going to ask for your advice every day or so on Facebook.

If you go to our fan page, you can help us pick out some of the things we are going to place in the Mansion!

It’s kind of like you are shopping with us!

Thank you for all your help!

Please visit our Facebook Fan Page

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Please “Like” us and “Share” us with your Facebook Friends!

The more advice we get… the better we can make Belle Grove!

Don’t forget our Cookie Contest!

We have gotten some really great entries already!

Hurley has been licking the computer with all the wonderful recipes!

Hurley Taste Test

Click on James Madsion and find out how you can enter and win a $100 Visa Gift Card 

and be

The Official Belle Grove Plantation Cookie!

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No Entry Fee, but Donations are very much appreciated for our Restoration Fund!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History, Food and Recipes, Hurley | 40 Comments »

It’s That Time!

Feb. 28th 2013

It’s finally here!


The Belle Grove Plantation Official Cookie Contest!

Pull out those recipes, warm up those ovens and get us your best cookie recipe!


Belle Grove Plantation will be serving a snack each evening to each room. We are looking for the ultimate cookie that will be serviced for one year as the official Belle Grove Plantation cookie.


We are looking for a recipe that will use ingredients that are readily available in any market. The cookie should be a cookie that can sit on a plate for an hour or so without it losing any of it flavor or texture. Refrigerated cookies and cookie bars are not eligible.

The theme is “A Cookie that James Madison would love”. It doesn’t mean that cookie recipe has to be from the colonial period of American History. It just means that you think James Madison would love it.

Top Ten Finalist 

The Top Ten Finalist will be featured on our blog with their recipe and blog/website information.

The Top Nine Finalist who are not selected as the Grand Prize will be the official cookies for our Sunday Lemonade Socials for one year.

Grand Prize   

The Grand Prize recipe winner will be awarded a visa gift card for $100.

The Grand Prize winner will also be featured on our blog with their recipe and blog/website information.

The Grand Prize winner will be the “Official Cookie of Belle Grove Plantation” for one year and will be served each evening as the night time snack during turn down service for each room. A card will be available with the recipe and winner name and blog/website to promote their sites.

All taxes and other expenses, if any, are the sole responsibility of the winners.  This contest is void where prohibited or otherwise regulated.  All federal, state and local laws apply.


You are eligible if you are 13 years of age or older as of March 1, 2013. Anyone between the ages of 13 to 17 must have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. This parent or guardian will be responsible of all taxes or fees. Parent or guardian’s name must be submitted with the enter information or enter will not be accepted.


To see detail information, please see our Official Cookie Contest Page!


You may enter as many recipes as you wish.

There will be no entry fee for the recipes you enter.

We do ask for a small donation if you would like to consider doing so. This donation will be used as part of the funds raised to restore and preserve the history of Belle Grove Plantation and to restore the three 1700s – 1800s dependencies. Once the Summer Kitchen/Slave Quarter dependency is restore, we will use it as a small museum to house the artifacts and history of the plantation, owners and enslaved community of Belle Grove Plantation.


All entries must meet the contest requirements. Recipe entries must be cookies. No bar, biscotti, frozen, pre-made, box mix or any other innovative cookie mix creation will be accepted. Initial judging will be done by panel of judges selected by Belle Grove Plantation for appropriate use of eligible products in addition to the criteria outlined below for the finalist recipes:

  • Creativity
  • Ease of Preparation
  • Appearance

Final judging will be done by a panel of selected by Belle Grove Plantation.  The Judges will select ten (10) Finalist recipes. Decision of the judges is final in all matters relating to this Contest.


If you are one of the ten (10) selected Finalist, you will be notified via email on April12, 2013.

The ten (10) Finalist will be featured on the Belle Grove Plantation blog on April 12, 2013 with the color photograph and recipe, along with their website or blog. The final judging will occur on Saturday, April 20, 2013. The winner will be noticed by email by Sunday, April 21, 2013. The Grand Prize winner will be featured on the Belle Grove Plantation blog along with their color photograph and recipe, along with their website and blog on Monday, April 22, 2013.


If you have any questions about this Cookie Contest, before you enter, please contact us through email at

Please make sure you have read the Cookie Contest rules above before submitting your recipe. 


 For more information

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Please see our Rules and Information Page

Please help us spread the word about our Cookie Contest!

Go to our Facebook Fan Page

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Please Like Us and Share Us with your Facebook Friends

Thank you and Good Luck to Everyone!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Food and Recipes | 12 Comments »

Cookie Contest to Start This Week!

Feb. 26th 2013

We are getting close to March 1st and you know what that means!

Cookie Contest Opens!

So get your recipes and your best photo ready to send us!

In the meantime, here is another cookie recipe we received and wanted to share!

This recipe comes from fellow blogger

This recipe comes to us all the way from British Columbia, Canada!

Arnhemse Meisjes, or Arnhem Girls, OR Arnhem Sugar Cookies

Arnhemse Meisjes, or Arnhem Girls, OR Arnhem Sugar Cookies

Arnhemse Meisjes, or Arnhem Girls, OR Arnhem Sugar Cookies

    “A Delisciously Dutch, Sugar Coated, Pastry Like Cookie”

       *Fun Facts: this cookie was made famous my Roald Dahl (author

of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), after he tasted them when he

was in Holland for a book signing tour. These cookies are best eaten

the first day, but are wonderful with a cup of tea or coffee.*

The Recipe:

   Recipe makes 16 cookies, best of made the night before, or at least

4 hours prior to baking time.

 the juice from 1 lemon

 1/2 cup warm milk (not hot!)

 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast

 1 cup flour

 1 dash of salt

 1/2 cup of butter (room temperature)


1) Squeeze the juice from 1 lemon and set aside.

2) Warm up 1/2 cup of milk in a sauce pan until warm, NOT HOT!

3) Add 1/4 teaspoon of dry active yeast to milk, stir in and let sit

4) Mix flour and salt together. After a few minutes, add milk and
yeast and mix until dough starts to form. Add 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of
lemon juice.

5) Cut up the 1/2 cup butter into cubes. Add one cube at a time to
dough and knead in (or mix on lowest speed) until all the cubes are
mixed in. Add more flour by the teaspoon if dough is too sticky to
remove from bowl. Form it into a log and wrap in plastic wrap and
refridgerate for 4 hours, or over night, but no longer than 2 days.

6) Cut the log into 16 equal slices. Roll each slice into a ball and
roll in sugar. Re-wrap and place in fridge again for 1 hour.

7) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Take out the rolled dough sprinkle
sugar on counter or baker’s board. Put dough balls on sugared surface.
Flatten each ball into an oval shape until about the size of a palm (4
inches in length). Coat each side in sugar and place on silicone
baking mat or parchment paper on baking sheet.

8) *OPTIONAL* Use basting brush to brush a small amount of lemon juice
over ONE side of the cookie after coating in sugar, this creates a
lemon glaze while baking. But this also changes the texture of the
cookie and makes it not as crispy on the outside as the regular
sugared ones. But both ways are good and shown in the picture.

9) Bake for 20-25 minutes, until bottoms are very golden and tops and
edges are a pale yellow/golden. Cool and enjoy. Best when eaten within
8 hours of baking time. DO NOT STORE IN FRIDGE, store in airtight
container.  Day old cookies are more chewy, but make an excellent
light breakfast served with fruit as they become like a sweet biscuit
after the first day.

To see more food offerings from Belle Grove Plantation

Please visit our Facebook Fan Page

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Like Us and Share Us with your Facebook Friends!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Food and Recipes | 22 Comments »