Williamsburg Local Customs

  • Cook in the Governor's Palace kitchen
    Cook in the Governor's Palace kitchen
    by grandmaR
  • Fireplace in Governor's Palace kitchen
    Fireplace in Governor's Palace kitchen
    by grandmaR
  • Costumed docent in guest bedroom
    Costumed docent in guest bedroom
    by grandmaR

Most Recent Local Customs in Williamsburg

  • grandmaR's Profile Photo

    Fireplace for heating and Kitchens

    by grandmaR Updated Mar 16, 2014
    Fireplace in Governor's Palace kitchen
    4 more images

    Because many buildings burned down and because of the heat from fires, usually the kitchens were in a separate building. When you visit be sure to go down in the cellar which originally had 11 wine bins.

    You need a ticket to tour (cheaper if bought on line). The line forms at the front of the building if you have not bought your ticket and made reservations in advance. Docents are in the kitchen (as cooks) and in other rooms of the palace.

    Related to:
    • Museum Visits
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • Tom_Fields's Profile Photo

    Fishing

    by Tom_Fields Updated Apr 4, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Drying fish
    1 more image

    The early settlers spent much time fishing, in the rich coastal waters and rivers nearby. They also harvested huge numbers of oysters and other shellfish. Here, the technique for drying fish is demonstrated.

    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • Tom_Fields's Profile Photo

    Tobacco

    by Tom_Fields Updated Apr 4, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Teaching how to hoe the ground for tobacco
    1 more image

    Tobacco was the first lucrative cash crop in North America. The Jamestown settlers acquired a taste for it from the local Indians. But the type they smoked was too bitter. So a new kind was imported from the Carribean islands. The farmers learned to grow it, and it thrived in the rich soil and temperate climate.

    The King banned the weed from his court, saying that it was repugnant and unhealthy. But it caught on all over Europe, and made the Jamestown colony very profitable. And we've been dealing with it ever since.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • National/State Park

    Was this review helpful?

  • Tom_Fields's Profile Photo

    Boat-Building

    by Tom_Fields Updated Apr 4, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Boats are built here
    2 more images

    The settlers brought boat-building skills from old England. But they also learned new ones from the Indians, who constructed dugout canoes from trees. The Indians would chop down a tree, cut out a cross-section, cut it lengthwise, then burn out the center. Finally, they would scoop out the ashes with oyster shells.

    Both English and local techniques are shown here. Re-enactors gladly demonstrate how it was done and answer questions.

    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • Tom_Fields's Profile Photo

    Other Crafts

    by Tom_Fields Updated Apr 4, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    A blacksmith
    4 more images

    Re-Enactors at Jamestown demonstrate a variety of other local trades, crafts, and skills which were necessary in the new colony. Among them are cleaning clothes, forging tools, navigating on the rivers, baking, keeping records of all transactions, and governing the colony.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • National/State Park

    Was this review helpful?

  • Tom_Fields's Profile Photo

    Soldiering

    by Tom_Fields Updated Apr 4, 2011
    A soldier describes barracks life
    4 more images

    The soldiers kept everyone in the colony safe. These were professionals, who had trained since they were young boys. Most had seen combat in Europe. Of course, the New World offered new challenges. But the Indians' weapons were very much out-classed by the English muskets, swords, and armor.

    I asked about the colonists's involvement in the English Civil War of the 1640s and 1650s. The response was that there were clashes here between Royalists and Parliamentarians. Most Jamestown settlers were pro-Royalist, while the majority in the Massachusetts Bay colony favored the Parliamentary army of Oliver Cromwell.

    In any case, the troops played a vital role.

    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo

    Fences of Williamsburg

    by matcrazy1 Updated Apr 4, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    WHITE  FENCE  OF  WILLIAMSBURG

    I was surpriced to see identical wooden fences, like on my picture, around all, over 500 houses in Colonial Williamsburg. It's very unique in Virginia and even in the USA where individuals fence their houses in thousands different ways.

    I got to know that in this historic area there is the fence law which specify in details (6 points) the shape, size, colour etc. of the fences. The local law make many, many limitations in building anything in this area. In Colonial Williamsburg, they like to keep the fences as they looked in 1776. Mainly guides and other employees live in the historic area. They are proud of their great historical heritage and wise enugh to narrow their rights to build anything they want in historical district. In the residential areas in Williamsburg and in James City County, individuals may fence their private property the way they want to.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Road Trip
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo

    Ink-Powder to see, try and buy

    by matcrazy1 Updated Apr 4, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    FINE  INK-POWDER

    There is ink-powder to see, to try and to buy ($2.00) in colonial Wolliamsburg's Post Office. I got to know that they used quite different ink in the past, in 18th century colonial America than you can find in current store.

    The ink was made and stored as solid ink-powder and then solluted in water before use. Natives used quill pens dipped in the ink stored in inkwells.


    Keep in mind that till 1450 books were exclusively written and copied by hand - letter by letter - which made them very expensive thus not available for most. It changed since Gutenberg brought together the technologies of paper, oil-based ink and the wine-press to print books. But whereas the improvement of paper, print-ink and print-press went fast there were no key changes in hand-writing by 20th century where improved ball pens with a container for ink became popular.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Road Trip
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo

    Hear sounds of colonial fife

    by matcrazy1 Updated Apr 4, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    COSTUMED  FIFE PLAYER

    I met this costumed guy playing on a fife on the main avenue of Colonial Williamsburg, in front of Raleigh Tavern. Fife is a small transverse (side-blown) flute with six finger holes and no keys. It produces a high pitch and shrill tone.

    Well, it's not my favourite musical instrument (I am a fan of saxophone) but I can imagine that fife's spirited and inspirational sounds carried well on the field of battle in the past. Fifes and drums were used for command and control in battle. In America they were popular since 1750s till late 1860s. They played prominent role during the Revolutionary War (1775 - 1783) and thus become traditional symbols of the young nation and of its heritage

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Music
    • Road Trip

    Was this review helpful?

  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo

    New arrangement of chimneys

    by matcrazy1 Updated Apr 4, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    ALEXANDER  CRAIG  HOUSE

    A typical Georgian residential house of 18th century colonial Williamsburg has either one side tall chimney or, in larger houses, two symmetrical chimneys on both side walls. But some Williamburgers broke this rule and put up chimneys in different way.

    Alexander Craig House originally built in 1735 and then changed many times has two chimneys put on one side wall. Alexander Craig was a saddler who may have speculated in land.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture
    • Road Trip

    Was this review helpful?

  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo

    Colonial brick pattern

    by matcrazy1 Updated Apr 4, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    FLEMISH  BRICK  BOND  AT WALL OF TARPLEY'S STORE

    Look at the pattern of bricks on my picture of a wall of the Tarpley's Store. Bricks in each horizontal line are laid in the way that alternately short face and long face is visible. A line below the order is the same but there is long face always below short one and oposite.

    This pattern is called Flemish Brick Bond and is typical for colonial architecture in Williamsburg. Well, it's not so easy to find nowadays. Today bricks are laid quite deferent, with only long faces visible. Flemish became popular in the 18th century particularly when used as a design feature with alternate coloured bricks. Before, in 16th and 17th century, English brick bond was common: with a line of long faces visible above a line of short faces. So, the pattern of bricks can indicate approx. time of a wall building.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture
    • Road Trip

    Was this review helpful?

  • davecallahan's Profile Photo

    car repair

    by davecallahan Updated Mar 20, 2007

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    We had a flat tire while driving on US60. Hit something in the road and bent the rim and broke the seal and punctured the tire.

    Called AAA and they sent a guy out to look at it and after we got the "doughnut" spare on, he gave us the name of the local Chevy dealer where I could go and get it fixed. The tow truck guy offered to tow us (at AAA expense, not mine) but I said that I could find the repair place and the spare tire would be okay until we got the replacement.

    We got to the repair place and found out that they don't normally carry rims (neither new nor used) and would have to order one shipped in from Richmond. And the car dealer did not have facilities for changing tires but would have to refer me to a Dunlop tire store.

    to make a long story, short.... after 7 hours we finally got the rim delivered to the Chevy dealer, then i had to hot foot it over to the Dunlop dealer to get it fitted and a new tire replacement.

    In Rochester, NY all the car dealers of all the brand-name cars all carry a supply of parts and provide all repair services (other than body-dent repairs) right on the premises.
    It appears that Williamsburg, VA does it a bit differently.

    Related to:
    • Road Trip

    Was this review helpful?

  • nick723's Profile Photo

    Raining on your parade?

    by nick723 Written Sep 2, 2006

    many locals have learn to use virgina's bad weather to thier advage. so your planning a trip to busch gardens but a tropical storm looks like it's going to ruin your plans, well wait it out because if when after the storm clears and the park reopens then the weather is cool and sunny and thiers hardly any people in the park! no lines, no wait, why didn't more people think of this?!

    Related to:
    • Theme Park Trips
    • Road Trip

    Was this review helpful?

  • chewy3326's Profile Photo

    Flags

    by chewy3326 Written Dec 21, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Capitol

    The easiest way to tell if any attraction is open is if there's a flag in front of it. In Colonial Williamsburg, the exhibit houses close at 5 o'clock in the afternoon, but each day, many of them may not be open, or have different hours. So if you see a British flag hanging in front of the buidling, it means the building's open.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • deecat's Profile Photo

    Restoration is a Way of Life

    by deecat Updated May 28, 2005

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Bassett Hall in Colonial Williamsburg

    I was fascinated by Bassett Hall or sometimes known as the Rockefeller home.
    When you visit, you experience a video program shown in the Bassett Hall reception building that describes the beginning of the restoration of Williamsburg.

    For those who do not know, John D. Rockefeller Jr. was an heir of the Standard Oil wealth. He became a wonderful philanthropist who became interested in the Reverand Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin's desire to restore all of Williamsburg. He invited Rockefeller to visit, showing him the Bassett Hall Home.

    Eventually, Goodwin convinced Rockefeller to purchase the home. Rockefeller was most interested in the GreatOak, a huge tree that was over 100 years old. Bassett Hall became the Rockefellers' residence during their twice-annual trips to Williamsburg. Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, John's wife, decorated Bassett Hall with folk art. (The folk art museum was developed from her folk art collection.)

    The home is a simple two-story 18th -century white frame farmhouse that sits on 585 acres of woodlands, lawn, and gardens. The garden blooms in the spring and in the fall, just as it did when the Rockefellers made their seasonal visits. You can use the trails that the Rockefellers made in the woods and use an audiotape tour.

    It's called Bassett Hall because Burwell Bassett purchased it around 1800; it was then acquired for Colonial Williamsburg in 1927. Rockefeller purchased it in 1936, and it stayed in the Rockefeller family until 1979 when it was bequeathed to Colonial Williamsburg. It was opened to the public in 1980, and was completely restored in 2000 (it took two years so it did not reopen until 2002.)

    Unlike the rest of the Historic Area (18th century restorations), Bassett Hall appears as it did in the 1930s and the 1940s (the early days of the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg) when the Rockefellers lived here.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

Instant Answers: Williamsburg

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

76 travelers online now

Comments

Williamsburg Local Customs

Reviews and photos of Williamsburg local customs posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Williamsburg sightseeing.

View all Williamsburg hotels