I'm a last minute kinda gal. I like to make plans ahead of time, but I don't believe in firming anything up because at the last minute plans most likely will change. Instead I spread my options out, knowing if plan A fails, there's still plan B & C left. In this case Plan A involved using a coupon for a hotel in Hopewell. Even though my first choice, Comfort Inn Plus, which was determined after reading reviews on-line, said they had no rooms available when I checked on-line, I thought we should still give it a shot as a walk-in. My senses proved correct and we had a really nice King room for two nights. My only complaint were the wee little pillows on the bed. Shouldn't a king sized bed have king sized pillows? These were softer than marshmallows and about the same size. I don't think I got two straight hours sleep, so I wasn't in the best physical and mental frame before heading out to the plantations.
We figured we'd go to the furthest ones first so opted to leave Weston Plantation in Hopewell for the end of the day. First up was Shirley. Ms. Garmin took us on a pebbled dirt road up to the Great House.
It was a perfect spring day and the crowd was very light so that was cool. Our tour began as soon as we got our tickets. No photos were allowed in the inside of the home. Our guide was knowledgeable, but based most of her tour on the portraits on all of the walls. I couldn't keep up with the names. I was more interested in their daily way of life, but that wasn't in the script. No mention of what was grown on the plantation, or what a typical day entailed. Neither was the mention of any slaves. I remembered what Bulletproof had said about the surrounding plantations and how hundreds of them fled to the Union Army to escape to freedom, but if I didn't know any better, and just based my knowledge on the scripted tour, it was like this plantation never had slaves.
The Great House is a lovely home, and the family still lives on the top floor, but my goal was to learn a slave's daily routine, what they wore, what they ate, or, at the very least, see slave quarters. I asked the guide if there were any on the plantation and she said no. There was one building off to the right of the Great House which had a replica kitchen on one side...
and had information about the slaves on the other.
There were binders of photos and info that I so wanted to read thoroughly, however it was impossible. There must have been a wasp nest in that room because it was crawling and buzzing with nose-diving wasps, yellowjacks & bees. I was waiting for scorpions or snakes to join the fray! My husband offered to run in and grab the book but I could only see him getting stung and told him to forget it. It wasn't worth it.
We were able to take pics of the grounds, where there wasn't a rope cordoning off an area. I would have liked to get closer to the James River but access is denied. Here are some shots...
|Trellis of grapes to be|
|A dovecote. Never heard of one before.|
|Here's the inside. Are those dove wings from the sun's rays?|
|Why are bricks in this tree? It was hit by lightning in the 1960's and it was thought tree wouldn't die if bricks were put inside. According to the lady in the gift shop it still produces walnuts.|
Next up...Berkely Plantation.