Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Another gift from John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

Friday October 4, 2013
Anvil Campground
Williamsburg, Virginia


Our day in Williamsburg is full to the brim.



Williamsburg 002


There is so much to see here it’s hard to know where to begin. If you have never been here before or don’t buy tickets at your park or hotel, you must see the visitor center films.  There is one they’ve had for years but it’s still great.   We go directly to the Historical Area.  On the way we walk through Merchant's square where I see a fellow Charlottesvillian and stop to chat.   He takes time away from his writing to suggest several things we won’t want to miss.


Williamsburg 006


Williamsburg is a one of a kind place.  An entire town restored to the 18th century.   There is a modern Williamsburg but you can walk for quite a distance before it interrupts the feel of this place.  There are no cars permitted but 18th century transportation is available.





All of this is thanks to Mr. Rockefeller and the Rector.


Williamsburg 030


Those who were following us in Acadia will remember the wonderful and beautiful carriage roads which were designed and paid for by John D. Rockefeller Junior who continued to pay for the up keep until his death in 1960.  Williamsburg is another of his amazing projects. 

He pretty much saved the area from being razed after being approached by William Archer Goodwin a rector of Bruton Parish Anglican church.  There is a short and interesting history here if you are a history buff.  Particularly the section entitled “Beginnings”.



I think the period clothing really adds to the atmosphere.


As we walk down the streets there are numerous costumed interpreters.  Everyone who works in Williamsburg is in 18th century garb and has a specific identity.  You can ask them any questions you like about the area, the history, the town or themselves and they will answer in character.   Some of the tourists are dressed too though not as many as at a Renaissance Faire.  There is a shop where you can rent appropriate clothing if you’d like to.


Williamsburg 094


I think this young lady is carrying the American Girl company’s doll Felicity whose story is that she lived in Williamsburg in 1774.  There are dolls, stories, clothing and props for nearly every period in American History.


Williamsburg 009


Williamsburg 040



The colonial town is not gated; you can visit for free.


All of the outdoor grounds are open to the public but if you wish to be able to do the building tours, the reenactments or see the working artisans you need a pass.  With that you can come and go as you will and do anything you like. We got our passes at the campground and had to “upgrade” from a one day to the special for seniors.  Now we are on our way to the ticket office to get a separate free ticket for a special tour.  For these too it appears you must have the pass. 

When we pass by the courthouse a young woman is pacing back and forth apparently awaiting the outcome of a trial.  Later in the day we attend a court session.


Williamsburg 016

Williamsburg 020 



We also pass an outdoor market and some folks playing games in the field next door..

  Williamsburg 028


 Williamsburg 026




We strike it rich with an accidental tour and a fabulous tree.



Williamsburg 036


As we leave the ticket office, we find  a “short introductory tour” with a Williamsburg farmer is just beginning.  So we tag along.  He takes us out onto the palace green (the several block long lawn in front of the Royal Governor’s Palace) and provides all kinds of information about what to see where, whose house is whose and the history of it all.  We walk down the green as he points things out.  Then over to the Compton Oak which is a THE most amazing tree.

It would take several people to put their arms around this tree.  Its branches are bigger than most of the trees we hug and many of the branches nearly touch the ground.  It shades a huge area and there are multiple benches which groups of people use to get out of the sun as we are doing.




Williamsburg 046



Our first house tour is at the home of Law Professor George Wythe.


Williamsburg 037

One of the things our farmer advises us is that if we would like to see Mr. Wythe’s home, it is only open when he has stepped out which is between 9am and 1pm today.  So we bid him good day and head over there across the green.

In 1779 the College of William and Mary made George Wythe the first professor of  law in the country.  He had been Thomas Jefferson’s tutor when reading the law with a current attorney was the main way one became a lawyer.  Carrie is a graduate of William and Mary Law but reports she has never met Mr. Wythe although she has heard a great deal about him.




Our tour group is ushered into the drawing room.  We take seats around the edge.  We are told that the chairs are pushed back because there was dancing in this room.  I’m taken by the contrast between the formal and bold wallpaper and the unfinished floors.   In the corner cupboard I find a very interesting tea pot.  A little humor for those who know their American History.



Williamsburg 052



Williamsburg 058


I am very surprised that we are taken up to the family’s private quarters on the 2nd floor.  I wonder what the Wythes will say when they return.  

The wallpaper in the guest bedroom and the stripes in the Wythe’s bedroom are again both very bold.








This is the wallpaper in the hallway both upstairs and downstairs.


Williamsburg 066


We are shown the other rooms in the house as well, the children's bedroom, the study, the office, the summer bedroom but space prohibits showing it all.  And I know you want to have some surprises when you come yourself.


In the back of the house is a lovely lawn, gardens and numerous white clapboard outbuildings including the kitchen, laundry, dove cote, stable and smoke house among others.  The herb garden is heavenly.  The basil plants are like bushes.  Do they make pesto in the 18th century??


Williamsburg 076

Williamsburg 075


Of course all the plants are authentic to the gardens of the time.  I suppose the swallowtail is to.  This entire town is researched to within an inch of its life.







Williamsburg 085



Tired from being awakened by the trains over night, I take a little rest before our picnic lunch which we eat right on this bench.  Then it’s off to court.






We are ushered into the courthouse and told about court days and the workings of this court.  There were from 5 to 8 judges depending on the case.  There will be 3 cases heard here today and they are short some judges.  I’ve always wanted to be a judge.  So, civic minded as I am,  I volunteer to help out.  I hope I’m not too judgmental.

The bailiff talks about the way the court is physically set up.  Only the officers of the court, including solicitors and queen’s counsel,  can go into the area in front separated by the railings.  This is called “passing the bar”.  You must be an official to pass through that bar.     You also will “stand trial”.  There are no seats anywhere for anyone in the court other than the officials.  Everyone stands, witnesses, defendants, observers.  All beyond the bar.


An  African American would never have been allowed to be a judge or even sit on the jury in the 18th century but we live in more enlightened times now. Four of us are chosen to sit in for the absent judges today.


Williamsburg 106


The only actual man of law (solicitor) sits beneath the magistrate in the center of the court and reads the accusations and advises us on points of law.


Williamsburg 107 


The first case is called.

Williamsburg 098


He pleads his case.

Williamsburg 108



The magistrate speaks to a point of law.


Williamsburg 110



We find him guiltyWilliamsburg 111


If you have to be convicted, this is a beautiful courthouse to do it in.


Williamsburg 122


I like being a part of a panel of judges.  I’m considering it for my next career.


This is only part of our first day in Williamsburg but it’s enough for one post.  Next post, we hear the spinet piano, visit the shoemaker and see the Marquis.


  1. What fun ... I liked it there very much but I didn't go to court or the Wythe House ... I did, however, watch a very well formed young man chop wood... nice bench there...

  2. We went to the Wythe House, too, when I was there in July. Actually, it's one of my favorite houses in CW. He's an interesting character and I wonder how many people other than us Virginians know anything about him. He met a sad demise and apparently, people were greedy then, too. :-) Love the pictures. I can't wait until my grandchildren are old enough to go!

  3. I have never been to Williamsburg, but Mo has. Still it is on the list for when we finally make it to that part of the country...someday...2015? I have so many pins from all your information, Sherry, I surely hope that the pinning world doesn't disappear before I can get back to the last 8 states we have to visit.

  4. Love Williamsburg and Charlottesville, where Tracy's brother and family live. Always so much to see and do. Enjoy!

  5. I once attended a class at Ft. Lee, VA and on a weekend another woman and I drove to Williamsburg. It was in the middle of winter with snow on the ground, but I enjoyed seeing it.

  6. Excellent photos and description of a wonder place preserved for future generations. Thank You!

  7. Interesting...never been there...putting it on the list. That wallpaper is something else. Don't think I could sleep with all that color;o)) Loving those basil bushes!!!

  8. Thanks for the wonderful tour, I always learn stuff on your blog. My "Tilt" (thing I learned today) for today :)

  9. What a fun town to visit. If you liked that tree, you really need to see "The Big Oak" in Thomasville, Georgia.

  10. Have been to Williamsburg a couple times, it's just the coolest place! Very cool that you got to participate in the trial too. What fun!

  11. Great tour. I especially like your picture with Thomas Jefferson, our local home town hero. It was another great day!

  12. Better get yourself one of those powdered wigs for your next stint as judge. :)

  13. Our family visited Williamsburg many years ago, but I didn't remember much. Looks like fun!

  14. Fun to revisit Williamsburg via your post. My brother-in-law was married there about five years ago and it sure made for a romantic setting with only candlelight during the ceremony and reception.

  15. We took our granddaughters there a couple of years ago and bought them tri cornered hats. One of the girls put her's on a bench while she ran around a nearby tree for just a couple of minutes. When she got back, someone had stolen her hat!

    I guess we needed a hanging judge like you to punish that thief (but we never caught him/her).

  16. That's a cozy picture of you and Thomas Jefferson. Cute!

    Have been to Williamsburg, but had heard it's especially pretty at Christmas time. Sadly, we never did get there during the holidays when we were living in Virginia.

  17. I love that you volunteered to be a judge! And that a black man did too :) What fun! Did you ask any well dressed, knowledgable actors about pesto? Wonder if they'd have known. Great day. Fun oufit. Great hat!! :)

  18. What a great place to visit. We will put it on the list!


Your comments are the best part of this blog for me.
I LOVE hearing from you!