Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Colonial Williamsburg

On our recent trip to Virgnia, in September, we visited Colonial Williamsburg. It truly was unlike anything our family has ever experienced. It was like going back in time 200 years, to the 18th century.

The Virginia Governors Palace (Governor Dunmore)
Colonial Williamsburg is a archaeologically accurate area of the real Williamsburg of the 18th century. Many of the houses and shops have been refurbished to be much like they would have in the 18th century. Archaeological research has shown them exactly where and what many of the town shops were, who owned them and what they made an sold. Therefore, Duke of Gloucester Street is much like it was in the 1770's in Virginia.
Colonial Williamsburg has an apprentice system in place as well, where artisans are taught to do the craft/skill as it was done in the 18th century, using the same tools as would have been used then as well. It was quite an amazing place!
Here we visited the blacksmith's shop. This was the only one in town in 1770. There was excavation going on beside this shop on property that was owned by the same person. It was the summer kitchen. It was interesting to watch the excavation. The home was on Duke of Gloucester Street and the shop and kitchen were behind. You entered a small gate at the side of the house and then walked through a courtyard to the smith shop. Not only were horseshoes made here but all kinds of tools, shoe buckles, cooking utensils, anything that was make of metal.
There were many different types of hammers and anvils in this shop, all for different purposes. Interesting!

As we walked down the street, we visited a shoemaker, the silversmith, and the millinery shop where you would buy clothing and accessories and even be fitted for your stays:)
As you leave the city streets of Williamsburg, you go into the 'country' where you find a plantation. This man was showing us how to hand hewn a log into a beam for support for a home. He instructed that you would fall this log in the forest and do all this there and then haul this beam to where you wanted. No sense in moving a heavy log before cutting it. It just made sense. This class was to demonstrate the art of building a home with tools of the time period. There was another man showing us how to split pine into clap boards that would be used to cover sides and roof.
Here the men demonstrated the use of a pit saw, which would be used much in building this house.
Other places we visited in Williamsburg were the Capitol Building where we learned much about the conflicts between the people and their government, the Governor Dunmore's Palace and the Courthouse, where we experienced a mock trial.
Overall this was a great family vacation. We also got VERY good prices as it was during home school week. Check their website. I believe they do this two time each year. There were special classes that they offered to us during this time as well. When we first began talking about it, the children (and I too) were not sure what to fully expect. By the end of our three days there, they were talking about coming back next year. That's what I call a successful vacation.

When we go back, here are some of the things that we will do differently:

1. Make sure to wear comfortable, closed toe shoes

2. Bring snacks and lots of water bottles, maybe even a cooler on wheels

3. Attend earlier in the week. There were some events that you had to 'register' for that were not available to us. The sign ups begin early in the week.

The highlight of our time in Colonial Williamsburg was the wonderful street re-enactments that occurred each afternoon. These provided so much excitement and learning for our children. IMHO there was a bit of literary license that took place but that just provided a platform for discussion among us later on. Above you see the drum and fifer core that marched before the Governors carriage.

Here the Virginia Army is calling people to the town center. The British Army is coming and they need to call for a volunteer Army.

Here the Revolutionary War volunteer army is being sworn in as solders. There is Josh and Daddy, right in the middle.

Here are our two soldiers, ready to fight for their country, and freedom from England. The are equipped with 1 rifle and 2 cider mugs and a bit of hard tack in their pockets.

We were grateful to be blessed with this vacation. Suzie


Big Momma said...

First I have to say, your blog is great. Secondly.. Williamsburg is one of our families favorite places to go. Quite often, my kids and I will dress up in our Colonial Garb before loading in the car to visit. My dear hubby however likes to be the 21st century representative of the family. : )

eliz said...

I miss your posts! How are you? Is your brother settled in? :o)
Elizabeth in MN from COC Homeschoolers