Williamsburg (part 3)

Textile 3

[This is part three of my What To Do in Williamsburg Blog for part one go HERE. For part two go HERE. ]

Previous tips included:

  1. Planning your trip in the Fall or Winter to avoid the heat and crowds.
  2. Staying in a Colonial House.
  3. Engaging with the locals.
  4. Visit the Wren Building
  5. Take the Rubbish, Treasures and Colonial Life Tour & the Behind the Scenes Tour
  6. Visit the De Witt Wallace and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museums

Today we’ll go inside some of Williamsburg’s beautiful houses and get a little spooky after dark.

7. Tour the Governor’s Palace. It is the largest and finest residence in Williamsburg and it is meant to awe, inspire and intimidate all who see it. The moment you walk into the entrance hall lined with fire arms and crossed swords you know the power behind the man who lives here. It was home to seven colonial governors and two elected Virginia governors before Thomas Jefferson moved the Capital further west to Richmond in 1780.

Front gate leading to the Palace.

Front gate leading to the Palace.

Tours, which require a separate ticket, will bring you through the public and private portions of the house.

One of the beds in the Palace.

One of the beds in the Palace.

After your tour explore the vast gardens. Don’t miss the box wood maze. And be sure to climb the pyramid over the ice house. I found the gardens more enchanting than the building itself.

View of the box wood maze taken from the top of the pyramid. This was from our 2010 trip, and it had just snowed.

View of the box wood maze taken from the top of the pyramid. This was from our 2010 trip, and it had just snowed.

There were dozens of hidden treasures.

Window through the garden wall looking out to the canal.

Window through the garden wall looking out to the canal.

Even if you don’t take a formal Palace tour be sure to stop in to see the cellars and the kitchen. It will give you a fascinating glimpse on how they kept this huge home running. The cook, a man, was one of the highest paid and best regarded people in Williamsurg btw.

They made one big meal for the day. What kept was "left over" for breakfast.

They made one big meal for the day. What kept was “left over” for breakfast.

8. Tour the Thomas Everard House. On a prime piece of real estate on the Palace Green is the Thomas Everard House. Everard was an orphan when he arrived in Virginia as an apprentice to Matthew Kemp. Everard trained for seven years as a clerk. Soon after his apprenticeship was finished he was appointed clerk of Elizabeth City County court. Eventually he became the clerk of York county court for 36 years,  Mayor of Williamsburg and held other prestigious post in the city. He purchased the house on the corner of Palace Green and expanded it.

The front of the Everard House faces the Palace Green.

The front of the Everard House faces the Palace Green.

His wife died fairly young but his two daughters, Fanny and Patsy lived with him as they grew up.

One of the girl's bedroom.

One of the girl’s bedroom.

Fanny married Rev. James Horrocks in 1765. He was the rector of Bruton Parish Church and president of Williams and Mary. He was a powerful man in the colony. When Rev. Horrocks died she returned to her father’s house. Sadly she died a year later. Her sister, Patsy lived, there until 1774 when she married.


The house is in a “U” configuration. On the main floor the parlor and dining room face the front. The Parlor is a public room in the house. This multi use room can be set up for music, games or dancing.

Thomas’ bedroom was accessible through the drawling room.

Everett's bedroom

He  had a quieter prospect  of the yard and garden out his window. A back door allowed for special friends to enter his cozy retreat.

Like the Parlor, the Dinning Room also faces the Palace Green. Dining

The door in the back of the dining room led to Thomas’ study. This room was also accessible through a rear door.

Evert's study

The Thomas Everard House is open 9-4 Tue, Wed & Friday.

9. Visit Bassett Hall. Williamsburg would not have been possible without the vision of one man and the generosity of another. The first man was Rev. W.A.R. Goodwin, The second was John D. Rockefeller, Jr.. Goodwin convinced Rockefeller to help him rebuild the Revolutionary City to its Colonial glory. Rockefeller and his wife Abby Aldrich Rockefeller.

Bassett Hall front

It was their retreat from the outside world. The Rockefellers visited there twice each year. The house and grounds have been restored not to the colonial era, but to the 1930s when the Rockefellers lived there.

Abby filled the rooms with her folk art finds.

The drawing room at Bassett Hall.

Folk art graces the walls at Bassett Hall.

One of her special interest was “School Girl Art.”  A sub set of her Folk Art collection the School Girl Art was literally done by girls who were away at school, usually finishing school in the 19 and 18th centuries.

A sample of School Girl Mourning Art memoralizing some one close to them who has died.

A sample of School Girl Mourning Art. The artist was encouraged to memorialize some one close to them who had died.

The family entertained  the locals — rich and poor– at their dinner table.

Dining rm

Dining Room decorated to Christmas

During the summer guest were often invited to tea in the Tea Room which was in a building overlooking the garden.

Looking back at the house from the garden.

Looking back at the house from the garden.

Bassett Hall is open Wed-Sun 9-5. Don’t miss the informative movie at the beginning of the tour. You’ll learn a lot about the Rockefellers and the re-making of Williamsburg.

10. Get spooky with it. When you visit a 300 + year old city you expect a lot of history, and probably a few ghosts. So join in the fun and take a Ghost tour. We did the Tavern Ghost tour and it was fun (if not very scary.)  Better still participate in the Cry Witch Program at the Capitol.

Capital for cry witch

The Capitol Building at night before the Cry Witch program.

You’ll witness the trial of Grace Sherwood with first person interpreters bringing the transcript and court room drama to life. We don’t know what the actual verdict was, those documents have been lost. So the audience in the courtroom gets to weigh the evidence and decide Grace’s fate.

Tomorrow we finish up with Williamsburg and move up the road to Richmond.


About ritalovestowrite

Freelance writer, graphic designer, musician, foodie and Jane Austen enthusiast in Northern Baltimore County, Maryland. As a writer I enjoy both fiction and non fiction (food, travel and local interest stories.) As an advocate for the ARTS, one of my biggest passions is helping young people find a voice in all the performing arts. To that end it has been my honor to give one-on-one lessons to elementary, middle and high school students in graphic design and music. And as JANE-O I currently serve as the regional coordinator for JASNA Maryland and am working on a Regency/Federal cooking project. View all posts by ritalovestowrite

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