Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Remember When . . . We Went back to 1776? (Our Trip to Colonial Williamsburg)

Finally, two weeks late, here it is. A bit about my trip to Colonial Williamsburg!

So, Roseanna is an eager beaver when it comes to history. And given that it was Homeschool Days at CW, I figured the place would swarming with other eager families. So me and mine were there when the gates opened (metaphorically), a few minutes after 8 a.m. Got our passes, headed out . . . and quickly saw that while the Group Sales office opened at 8, the rest of the place--er, not so much, LOL. So we wandered around for a good long while until other shops and buildings began to catch up with our day. ;-) Still, that provided a good chance to walk the length of the town and decide what we wanted to fit in.

I decided in short order that I felt very out of place in modern dress and that next time, I wanted to be wearing period garb. And got the distinct impression that next time, I may be coming alone if I insisted on that, LOL. (Well, I could probably convince Xoe to dress up with me. The boys,, no.)

First we toured the gaol (very interesting!) and the capitol. By which point the kids were hungry, so while we waited to the restaurants to open, we also stopped in to see the wigmaker, which was great. The lady working in there knows how to bring the process alive, asking us who would like their head shaved first and trying to sell us on the purchase of one of the more expensive wigs--which cost as much as a team of oxen, FYI.

Our next stop was the milliner and mantua maker (read: dress shop). This was another fun one, where we go to handle fabric and watch as they make hats and dresses and talk about shoes--wondering whether the company that once made shoes for both the king of England and George Washington is still in business (hey, you never know!). Getting in the spirit of things, we inquired about apprenticing our daughter there once she's twelve.

Insert said eleven-year-old scowling at us like we are not--funny.

We visited the apothecary and had a rousing discussion on the evolution (and not) of the medical field, the uses of certain items back then, and how people today tend to turn their noses up at the old treatments that did little or had terrible side effects (mercury, anyone?), in all actuality, people today still gladly take remedies with terrifying lists of side effects.

Our favorite stops came after lunch. We went to the cabinetmaker's shop, where the wood worker makes furniture of all kinds. The two boys in the family were highly enthralled--even the nine-year-old who also didn't want us apprenticing him out yet (sheesh, unambitious children, I'm telling you...). But what he did want was to be able to try this sort of work, so Mama's now putting out feelers on how to get a kid started in wood working...
A harpsichord from the museum, which they did NOT let me play. ;-)

While the guys were chatting awls and lathes, I went into the outer shop to play the harpsichord with the cabinetmaker's permission. I'd never actually played one, so that was a real treat! (My husband is now checking out how much these things cost, LOL. Answer: quite a bit. It's like they're rare or something these days...) Naturally, I earned the applause of those who came in after us, ahem. ;-) And the kids found the hidden compartments in the desk beside where I played. A marvelous time was had by all.

From there we went to the brickyard, where no one was making bricks because, alas, it's a summer-only thing. Still, my hubby, from a family of stone masons, had tons of questions for him, and we learned a lot about what brickmaking was back then, and what it is today. They do indeed make all the bricks they use in CW, which is pretty darn cool. And so, as we walked to the Governor's Palace for our last tour of the day, we were spotting the glazed bricks placed artistically within it and reminding ourselves that those were the sides facing the heat directly when the bricks were fired.

Now, I have a cousin who's a docent at CW, so she's the one who gave me a plan of attack for the town, and she offered to meet us for a few minutes when we were done the tour of the palace (thanks, Sierra!). She gave us the tip of the day: go and see the maze.

I'm a history buff. I love wandering around a place like Colonial Williamsburg and learning with every step. My children, however, like just wandering--preferably through something green. So once we found the shrubbery maze (it's not on the maps!), they really started having fun. Laughter was ringing through the afternoon, and my tired kiddos suddenly had energy. So glad we got that tip!

I got to meet with a writer friend of mine for dinner at a local restaurant (yay for Carrie Fancett Pagels!), and then we all soaked our aching feet in the pool at the hotel.

On day 2, we didn't head over quite so early--lesson learned--but were still among the first there. We talked for probably half an hour to a groundsman about the state of the modern country (where my kids proved true to form yet again and had a great time doodling in the dirt with a stick...). We walked to the print shop, learned a lot about how that's done which could be a post in itself (note to self...) and then headed for the museum. We had to get back to WV, preferably before dark, so then called it quits and packed up.

All in all, we had a lovely time, came home with sore feet and legs, learned a lot, and realized that the kids still enjoy the wild exploration above the planned--a note I shall incorporate into future field trips, since they're supposed to be for them and not for me. ;-)


  1. My family loves Williamsburg. Growing up in Hampton, VA, there were always school field trips to Williamsburg. :-)

  2. Beverly Duell-MooreMarch 15, 2017 at 12:37 PM

    Great read, Roseanna! Only it wasn't long enough for me! I'd love to see what you saw. I loved it when I went years ago with my school class. I'd love to go now and soak up all that history.

  3. My husband and I went there when he was stationed at Norfolk in 1970. We ate at the Kings Arms Tavern --- Sally Lunn bread! and bought a cookbook that we still have, that has the recipe for Sally Lunn bread. We even tried it at home. What a fun day.
    I too, would enjoy hearing more about your trip!