Henry Griggs Rambling
Visit to Australia 2002
Sydney house 2002
Circular Quay 2004
Circular Quay 2002
Centrepoint Tower 2004
Oz Birds 2004
Oz Birds 2002
Bridge Climb 2002
Photo of the day
Geek Alaska 2003
UK in 2003
Geek Caribbean 2002
Photo Of The Day
31st March 1999
We've been to Colonial Williamsburg several times. I've been 3 times, but
Anne's been about 6 times. There's always something new and interesting
to do. When we first went, we bought Patriot Passes. These are tickets
that last a full year, and allow entry and parking as often as youw ant
during that year. This is quite a good deal if you plan on visiting more
than once. It's not such a good deal anymore. When we bought our passes,
they were $30 each. Now they are $65 each.
Colonial Williamsburg is a recreated 18th century American colonial
city. In the early 1900s, most of the colonial buildings in America were
being pulled down and replaced by modern buildings. In the mid-1920s,
the local priest in the Williamsburg area, realised that Williamsburg
was about the only place left with a sizeable number of the original
historical buildings and houses. And if something wasn't done about it,
they too would be pulled down and modern buildings put up. Goodwin went
looking for funds. He eventually approached John D. Rockefeller.
Rockefeller agreed with Goodwin and contributed about $70 million for
the restoration work. They purchased the land and buildings, maintained
what was maintainable and rebuilt what was no longer there. Rockefeller
established an endowment to continue the restoration after his death.
The Williamsburg area is historically important. It was one of the
earliest settlements in the USA, and it was essentially the location of
the start of the American War of Independence. It has US history oozing
from every building.
The city is a small one. Many of the houses have been restored. Most of
the major buildings have been restored or rebuilt. The city is
populated. People live in the houses, and dress in colonial clothes
during the day. They work in the city, doing dressmaking, shoemaking,
carpentry, brickmaking, wheelwrighting, blacksmithing, cooping,
printing, wigmaking. It's fun to walk around all day, look at the
buildings, talk to the people who try and stay in character, and watch
the old occupations. Sovereign Hill in Victoria is similar in concept.
Our First Visit
|Our first trip was just after one of the big hurricanes in 1999.
We stayed overnight at Williamsburg Woodlands, one of the hotels
that surround the historical area. The hotel was almost empty, so we
had our pick of where we wanted to stay. The restaurant was closed
after damage from the hurricane, so we got a suite at a small room
price. The suites were way up the back, in a large ugly blocky
building. Here we are parked behind the building. It was quiet and
it was peaceful and the rooms weren't too bad.
We walked down from the hotel to the tourist and bought our passes.
Then we took the bus to the historical area. It dropped us near the
Governor's Palace and we walked down to it. The Palace is a large
building that has been completely reconstructed from original
drawings, some plans, documents and manifests. It was burnt down.
The reconstruction is amazing. They have regular tours through the
building, and we had to wait. While we waited, we were entertained
by a jovial navvy who had a saucy tale to tell about every state
that us visitors came from. He even had jokes about Australia. We
took the long tour through the palace and we oohed and aahed in
appropriate places. It's a great reconstruction and the furnishings
are incredible, especially the weapons used as decoration. There's
photos of them further down.
This is the Governor's Palace again, taken from the gardens at the
The back door to the Governor's Palace.
We went down into the storage areas underneath the Governor's
Palace, and this is the wine cellar.
This is the Capitol, a reconstruction of the original building.
Williamsburg was the capital of Virginia, and this building was the
most important one in the state. The Governor governed from here.
The colonial government met here. The General Court met here.
Legislation was made and justice was done.
The Magazine. This is a thick brick building, surrounded by thick
walls. They wanted it fairly safe because they kept the gunpowder
and weapons here. Until Governor Dunsmore got worried about the damn
colonials and moved the gunpowder to his ship "for safety". That
sparked a whole lot of trouble for the Brits.
This is the reconstruction of the house of a wealthy merchant,
George Wythe. We took the tour through the house. The house is
furnished pretty much as it was when it originally stood, and it's
pretty effective. The living areas of the welathy houses were quite
reasonable. Poor people lived in very small buildings with very
Anne's Third Visit
On our first visit, we took a ride on one of the carriages. We took
photos but Anne's camera died and they never came out. On Anne's
third visit, she had her new camera, and she took photos of some of
the carriages. Later on, I took more photos. I got a shock when I
went to get up into the carriage. The whole thing was leather sprung
and it just swayed towards me when I stood on the step. After the
ride, I swarmed all over the carriage looking at how it was
supported and sprung so that it stayed fairly steady. The horses
were great. It had been a long time since I had smelt the smell of
horse dung, and that was a very happy smell.
If you look back at the first few photos of the Governor's Palace,
you'll see that this was above the back doorway. Anne took a closeup
of the coat of arms.
The Governor's Palace used weapons as very
effective decorations. We saw images of this a few years ago in Robert
Hughes' documentary of American art. Now we've seen the originals. The
weapons make very formal, stylistic decorations, yet can be pulled off
and used as weapons at a moment's notice. Swords, muskets, pistols,
all are used as decorations.
This is a striking ceiling centrepiece, made of muskets with
The Courthouse. Several times each day they hold court sessions.
These are very popular and there is usually a big lineup of people
waiting to get in. When they open the doors for the next session,
everyone stands up and gets in line. Then they hold a little test.
They want people from the audience to be judges, to be jurors, and
to be criminals. Judges are the fun ones to be. To let the
circumstances bite a little, they hold a test to see who gets to be
a judge. Everyone puts their hand up. Then, put your hand down if
you aren't a white male. Put your hand down if you aren't a
Protestant. Put your hand down if you don't own property. Those few
remaining land-owning white anglo-saxon protestant males get to be
To the right, out of sight on the photo, are the stocks.
They have several different types of stocks. I declined to be placed
in the stocks.
Along Duke of Gloucestor Street are most of the shops of the town.
The one we visit every time is the milliner's shop. This is staffed
by a man and two women. The three of them are exceptionally
entertaining and will talk and talk and talk. They know the clothes
and the fashions and the history and the politics of the times. It
is fascinating to listen to them and ask questions. They stay in
character, and they are real characters.
There are a number of taverns to eat at on Duke of Gloucestor
Street. This is one of them. The food is roughly authentic. We had a
meal at Christiana Campbell's Tavern on our first visit. It was
expensive, but well worth it. Once.