Charles City Favorites

  • SCENIC  ROUTE 5
    SCENIC ROUTE 5
    by matcrazy1
  • BERKELEY  PLANTATION  -  FRONT  VIEW
    BERKELEY PLANTATION - FRONT VIEW
    by matcrazy1
  • MOVIE  AT  BERKELEY  PLANTATION
    MOVIE AT BERKELEY PLANTATION
    by matcrazy1

Most Recent Favorites in Charles City

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    War Between the States

    by b1bob Updated Oct 17, 2007

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    Battle of Evelynton Heights
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    Favorite thing: During the War Between the States, the plantations were treated differently by advancing federal troops.

    Federal troops occupied Berkeley Plantation, and President Abraham Lincoln twice visited there in the summer of 1862 to confer with Gen. George B. McClellan. Even after the war, the Harrisons were never able to buy back the plantation.

    Evelynton was the site of fierce skirmishes in 1862 during the War Between the States, when General George McClellan waged his destructive Peninsula Campaign; J.E.B. Stuart, Stonewall Jackson and John Pelham bravely led the Southern offensive in the Battle of Evelynton Heights. From this site on 2 July 1862 , Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart commanded his First Virginia Cavalry in the shelling of Federal soldiers encamped at Harrison's Landing and Westover Plains across Herring Creek. Known as "The Battle of Evelynton Heights" it contributed to the failure of Union General George B. McLellan's Peninsula campaign against Richmond. The original house and outbuildings were burned during that conflict, and the current residence was erected two generations later by Edmund Ruffin's great grandson, John Augustine Ruffin, Jr. and his wife Mary Ball Saunders.

    As a result of the Battle of Malvern Hill, hundreds of wounded and dying federal troops wound up on the front lawn of the Shirley Plantation. The Carters could have tried to remove the clutter in their yard, but they gave comfort to the sick and wrote letters for the dying. As a result of that act of uncommon kindness during wartime, General McClellan granted Federal Order of Safeguard meaning federal troops were forbidden from acting aggressively against the Shirley Plantation.

    en español, em português

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    Evelynton Plantation GBNF

    by b1bob Updated Oct 17, 2007

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    Evelynton Plantation
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    Fondest memory: The good news is, Evelynton Plantation didn't burn down as too many historical places do. The bad news is, the owners have decided to discontinue the tours. However, Evelynton Plantation has too much history and beauty for me to remove from the page altogether. Due to its prime location on the James River, it was a popular venue for weddings. My friends Ron and Kim Lushbaugh exchanged vows there before a crowd of more than 100 on 10 September 1994. My first impression on arriving was that the ice sculpture wouldn't make the "I do's". The wind blew out the unity candle. After the ceremony and before the reception on the terrace, a horse-drawn carriage whisked away Ron and Kim. It was a right nice wedding- a bit too fancy for my taste.

    Evelynton was originally part of Westover Plantation. Named for Byrd's daughter, Evelyn, this site has been home to the Ruffin family since 1847. The family patriarch, Edmund Ruffin, fired the first shot of the Civil War at Fort Sumter, South Carolina.

    The drawing room is where women would withdraw while the men SHOT THE BULL (chatted usually with exaggeration), smoked, etc. in the library. Today, a suntan can signify that a person is well-traveled, particularly to tropical climates. Years ago, however, a suntan signified that you were a labourer. It wouldn't do for a rich socialite to look as if she had done work, which explained the high fire screen.

    In the dining room, the guide gave an interesting presentation on how they marked and counted silverware after guests left. I saw a pineapple carved into the wood on the mantle.

    The thing that was most unique was they put the public loos in the silo.

    It's sad to see Evelynton crossed off the list of plantations open to tourists. I hope the misbehaviour by a miniscule few tourists didn't cause the owners to close it to tourists. Hopefully, future generations will reopen it to tourism.

    en español, em português

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  • b1bob's Profile Photo

    Shirley Plantation as a working farm

    by b1bob Updated Oct 17, 2007

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    Todd in the fields for a cotton pickin' minute

    Fondest memory: As my photos of the outbuildings suggest, Shirley Plantation was an honest-to-goodness farm. It still operates as such today. Tobacco was raised here from 1638 until 1816 when the nutrient-depleting crop became less profitable to raise. Hill Carter decided to replace tobacco with wheat, cotton, soybeans and corn. With irrigation and crop rotation (new ideas in agriculture at that time), he restored the plantation to its original profitability. Todd decided he would pose in the cotton fields for a photo and take home a souvenir.

    en español, em português

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  • b1bob's Profile Photo

    View of the James River

    by b1bob Updated Oct 14, 2007

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    terraced gardens leading to the James River
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    Fondest memory: The river was actually the safest mode of transport in the early days of the plantation. Think about it, traveling by horse drawn coach by land made one vulnerable to highway robbery (and I'm not talking about ticket prices to the plantations). The river was not only the choice mode of transport for people, but also for crops.

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    Matt and Urszula's visit to Charles City

    by b1bob Updated Oct 14, 2007

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    matcrazy's1 and 0 along the James River

    Fondest memory: Charles City is sadly little-known to the VT community. However, on 14 October 2004, Matt and Urszula went with me to Charles City to see Berkeley Plantation and eat at Indian Fields Tavern. They were blown away at the off the beaten path nature of this place and the contrast between urban Richmond and the suburbia that is Mechanicsville. We were all surprised to see a Hollywood movie crew filming what the Berkeley tour guide said would be a movie to be released in 2006. Matt snapped every place where photography wasn't expressly prohibited and one or two places where it was. We took the mansion tour, but they appeared to be more impressed with the grounds (the terraced land from the house to the river, the list of firsts, the width of the James River, and they had never seen a magnolia tree before). We had Virginia ham and James River chicken on the way out of Charles City to Colonial Williamsburg.

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  • butterflykizzez04's Profile Photo

    Sherwood Forest Plantation Highway Marker

    by butterflykizzez04 Written Apr 29, 2005
    Highway marker on Rt 5 for Sherwood Forest

    Favorite thing: Along the Rt 5 James River road you will find tons of highway markers depicting interesting and historical information.

    If you have time, and traffic permits, stop and read them. They are very interesting.

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  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo

    Plantations - plan your trip

    by matcrazy1 Updated Dec 20, 2004

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    EVELYNTON  PLANTATION - DRAWING  ROOM (by b1bob)

    Favorite thing: Even if you are great fan of old plantations, gardens and historic houses do not try to visit too many in one day. We visited the Berkeley Plantation in the morning, ate early lunch in Indian Tavern restaurant and visited Colonial Williamsburg in the afternoon. We saw a lot but we didn't have much time.

    Plan your trip to the plantations in advance and keep in mind their different opening hours and remember that some plantations offer tours only by appointment.

    1. Shirley Plantation
    Open daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Tickets $10.50, 9.00 am - 4.30 pm.

    2. Edgewood Plantation
    Historic tours by appointment only. Call: +1 (804) 829-2962

    3. Berkeley Plantation

    4. Westover Plantation
    The grounds and garden are open daily 9.00 am - 6.00 pm but the house is not open to the public.

    5. Evelynton Plantation
    The house, grounds and gardens are open daily 9.00 am - 5.00 pm.

    6. Belle Air Plantation
    The plantation is open 9.00 am - 8.00 pm by appointment only. Call +1 (804) 829-2431.

    7. Piney Grove at Southall's Plantation
    The gardens and grounds are open daily 9.00 am - 5.00 pm for self-guided tours ($3.00).

    8. North Bend Plantation
    By appointment only. Call: +1 (804) 829-5176.

    9. Sherwood Forest Plantation
    Open 9.00 am - 5.00 pm daily.

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  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo

    Plantations along scenic Route 5

    by matcrazy1 Updated Dec 20, 2004

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    SCENIC  ROUTE 5

    Favorite thing: This old route starts from Richmond's Main Street and goes east, just north of the wide James River through Charles City and all the way to Williamsburg.

    In addition to picturesque landscapes there are the James River Plantations along the route, all located in Charles City County, privately owned and open to the public. Driving from Richmond there are ony by one:

    1. Shirley Plantation
    Tthe oldest plantation in Virginia (1613) and the oldest family-owned business in North America (1638).

    2. Edgewood Plantation
    Previously part of the Berkeley Plantation, currently it houses Bed & Breakfast Inn and is an example of Carpenter's Gothic architecture.

    3. Berkeley Plantation - read my Must See Activities tips.

    4. Westover Plantation
    Built ca 1730 by William Byrd II, the founder of Richmond. There are secret underground passageways (an escape from Indians). The house is told to be one of the most outstanding example of Georgian architecture in America.

    5. Evelynton Plantation
    It was part of the Westover Plantation at the beginning. The original house and out-buildings were burned during the War Between the States in 1862. The current Georgian Revival manor house was built in 1937.

    6. Belle Air Plantation
    Built ca 1670, it is known for its original massive heartpine timbers and America's finest Jacobean stairway. Currently it is a bed and breakfast.

    Fondest memory: 7. Piney Grove at Southall's Plantation
    Built ca 1790 and first settled by Virginia's prominent Southall family, it's considered the best preserved example of Early Log Architecture in Tidewater Virginia.

    8. North Bend Plantation
    Built in 1819 it houses bed and breakfast now. Known for original antiques, rare books, old dolls and a rich Civil War history.

    9. Sherwood Forest Plantation
    First mentioned in 1616, it was the home of the 10th U.S. President John Tyler from 1842 until his death in 1862. Ther is the longest frame house in America (ca 1720), a classic example of Virginia Tidewater design.

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  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo

    The Berkeley Plantation - general info

    by matcrazy1 Updated Dec 8, 2004

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    THE  TICKET  OFFICE  AND  GIFT  STORE

    Favorite thing: We arrived to the Berkeley Plantation around 9.00 am and spent there over 2 hours which was enough time to see everything. First we joined the guided tour around the mansion and mostly self-guided tour around its basement. Then we enjoyed self-guided tour around the grounds and gardens down to the James River and back. We visited a gift shop and watched a movie on the plantation.

    HOURS
    Daily 9.00 am - 5.00 pm.
    The last guided tour of the mansion starts at 4.30 pm.
    Closed on Christmas Day.

    ADMISSION
    We paid $10.50 per ticket in October 2004.

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  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo

    Good introduction

    by matcrazy1 Written Dec 6, 2004

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    MOVIE  AT  BERKELEY  PLANTATION

    Favorite thing: The short movie on the Berkeley Platation, its history, people, traditions and present day was played at small movie theater. It was good introduction for the visit around this most historical Virginia's plantation. Ask the costumed lady at the counter in the ticket office about the movie. Take there the small leaflet about the plantation to get more info.

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    What is the plantation?

    by matcrazy1 Written Dec 6, 2004

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    BERKELEY  PLANTATION  -  FRONT  VIEW

    Favorite thing: Well, I knew that word although we don't have plantations in Poland, we have farms or farmlands.

    Plantation is a large farm, esp. in tropical areas, on which a particular type of crop is grown. So there is for example tea, coffee, sugar, cotton, rubber plantation. Plantation is an area where trees are grown for wood, as well.

    Newly established colonies esp. in the colonization of North America are called plantations. So it is more than only a large farm. It's rather early colonial community which consists of home of the owner, houses of plantation workers incl. slaves, other buildings and facilities and finally a large farm which specialized in one crop.

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    Firsts at Berkeley Plantation

    by acemj Updated Oct 16, 2002

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    Favorite thing: Most notably, the Berkeley Plantation was the site of the first Thanksgiving, but it also was the site where the military tune "Taps" was composed and first performed in 1862 while Civil War Union Forces were encamped at the plantation. In addition, the first Bourbon Whiskey in America was distilled at Berkeley in 1621.

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