America’s Historic Triangle: Williamsburg

The Governor’s Palace

On Saturday we went to Williamsburg.  It was the capital of the colony of Virginia.  We spent all day there.  It rained the majority of the day.  That morning when we left the hotel I found $16!  The bills were all wet and dirty so they had been in the rain over night.  I didn’t win the big lottery that weekend so I guess that was the universe’s consolation prize.

We parked at the visitor’s center and walked to the historic part.  There is a nice path through a wooded area that ends at the back of the Governor’s Palace.  Do not walk it at night because the majority of it is not lit.  The reason I know that is my husband wanted to walk back to the car at night in the rain.  I was more than creeped out and practically ran back.

At the hotel there was a “calendar” of events for the week in Williamsburg.  We used that to plan our day.  Historic Williamsburg is laid out like a giant “T”, with the “stem” of the “T” being the lawn in front of the Governor’s Palace, and the “cross” of the “T” being the Duke of Gloucester street.  There are other side and back streets, but that is the basic lay out.  The problem was that if we wanted to see something at 1PM it may have been at one end of the “T” and the next thing may have been at the complete opposite end.  It was a lot of walking.

We walked down the Duke of Gloucester Street going into various shops and exhibit areas.  We wanted to do a quill writing class, but when we got there they told us that the person who was going to teach it wasn’t coming that day.  At 1100 AM we watched 2 re-enactments.  One had sword fighting in it and the other had to do with the Royal Governor leaving the colony and taking stores of gun powder.

We ate lunch at the Kings Arms Tavern. The peanut soup was so good. It was like creamy peanut butter.  We spent the rest of the day going to various exhibits and going into various shops while trying to stay dry.  We ate dinner at Chowning’s Tavern.  We were told it is pronounced Chewning’s.  We really wanted to eat there because welsh rare bit was on the menu.  Welsh rare bit is a super cheesy, bready dish that my husband and I had heard about and have always wanted to try.  It was good.  We got dessert at Shield’s tavern while we were waiting for the ghost walk tour.  We got the apple pie with a Rummer drink.  A Rummer is a traditional 18th century “cocktail”.  It was so strong!  I thought that would be the closest I would come to drinking something like moonshine.  My advice, if you get it, is to let the ice melt a bit and water it down.

That night we did the Shield’s Tavern ghost walk tour.  A guide took us around to various places and told us stories about things that visitors and staff had experienced.  It was pretty interesting, but not scary.  We had noticed that not all of the buildings are open to the public.  We found out that those buildings are rented out to the staff.  We also learned that some of the sites in historic Williamsburg are considered museums and the staff that work there do not have to dress in colonial attire.  I couldn’t imagine having to wear those costumes in the Virginia summer heat.  We were lucky that the weekend we were there as it was a “cold spell” in Virginia in July with temps in the 80’s, but rainy.

Cherokee Indians doing a beading demonstration

On of the things I learned by looking on the Colonial Williamsburg website was that the eastern Cherokee were going to be in Williamsburg all week doing demonstrations.  I wish that we could have seen the dancing demonstrations.  The website said they would be on Saturday, but they were really on Sunday.

Magazine- ammunition and gunpowder storage
Chowning’s Tavern sign
Capitol building

We noticed throughout the day that the staff dressed in period costume had period drinking vessels for their drinks.  This guy in the red shirt sitting in front of the Capitol was the guy who checked your passes so you could go in. You can’t see it but he has a ceramic mug for his water.  We saw this throughout the day.

Making mud bricks
Kiln for making mud bricks
Shaping mud bricks
The brickworks area was interesting.  The mud pit had kids in it.  I can’t imagine those poor parents- their kids caked in mud.  Anyway, to make the bricks someone had to physically mix the clay, sand, and water together.  They then shaped the bricks into forms and dried them before firing them in the kiln.  The brickworks area was open late into the night.  We were finishing the ghost tour around 10PM, and it was still open.
Inside the Governor’s Palace
The entryway to the Governor’s Palace was filled with guns, swords, and daggers.  You could barely see the walls underneath them all.  They were in very intricate patterns.
Governor’s Palace gate

At one end of the Duke of Gloucester street is Merchant’s Square.  A collection of shops and restaurants.  I can remember going to the candy and toy stores when I was little.  The Cheese Shop is there.  It is a great deli that has wonderful sandwiches, as well as food and drink items to buy.

Overall, Williamsburg was a very long day.  We probably saw less than half.  I can understand why some people split it up into 2 days.  It can be done in 1 day if you are ambitious and don’t have children.

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