Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Shirley Plantation

Yesterday I, with three of my friends, took a bus/paddle boat tour along the James River in Virginia. 

Our first stop was Shirley Plantation. I had always wanted to visit that plantation and to see the fascinating 'floating' staircase. Unfortunately they did not allow photographs to be taken inside.     
                          However I got some good shots to share on Outdoors Wednesday.

This is the beautiful house at Shirley Plantation. It was begun in 1723 and took the workers 15 years to finish but unfortunately that owner died four years after it was completed. 

The dovecote was fascinating. There are 6 rows of 18 roosts making 108 roosts for the doves. These birds were used for down for pillows and mattresses, for food, and other uses. In the 1940s the birds vacated the dovecote due to modern machinery taking over the farm crops where they fed. They never returned.

This is the store house. It was used to store household goods that were shipped over from England, thence the raised doorways, the bars on the windows and a small door in one of the back doors to allow the cats to enter so they could kill the mice. The family certainly did not want their expensive furnishings eaten by rodents!!

Meals for the family was prepared in a separate building. Stoking up a cook stove inside the house raised a risk of fire, smoke and unpleasant odors. 
The cooks lived on the second floor with their families. 

In Colonial days guests arrived by the river. They were met down at water's edge and brought up to the house in a carriage. On the river side of the house is a large columned porch but guests did not enter the house that way. Instead they were brought around to the 'front' where they could enter a grand entrance hall. The large oak that you see one branch of is over 375 years old. 

Here are me and my friends standing in front of that oak tree.

It was a fascinating history to learn about. This plantation is the oldest plantation in the U. S. and has been continuously lived in by the Hill/Carter families for what is now the 12th generation. Recently twins (a boy and a girl) were born to the current residents. That family lives on the 2nd floor. 

More about our paddle boat ride down the James River soon.


  1. What a rich history. I can't help wonder if my ancestors paddled by too (or maybe even visited this family).

  2. Enjoyed the cyber history tour down the James River.

  3. Fascinating place. I didn't realize that the James River had such a landmark plantation house.

  4. Adore this post! Of course you knew I would. :-) We went to Shirley once, and of course Berkeley and Evelynton. I think Shirley is the oldest plantation to be continuously owned by the same family...not the oldest one. Bacon's Castle beats it and a few others. However, have to tell you something fascinating that we learned recently...Russell is descended from the Carters! His ancestor is Landon, one of Robert "King" Carter's sons...there were quite a number of the plantations spread among King Carter's sons, including Landon's Sabine Hall and John's Shirley. Another brother Charles was considered as a suitor to the widowed Martha Custis before she started seeing George Washington. As soon as I learned about this connection for Russell I ordered a book about Landon Carter. I would love to go to Sabine Hall now, but may never get a chance. I remembered just loving Shirley! Your photos are great!

  5. Amazing stuff and a wonderful to see this bit of history preserved and shared. The dovecote is an interesting place, can you imagine the work to get one pillow? Or having to clean it, lol?

  6. What a fun thing to do! And educational!!! Thank you for taking us along!

  7. You certainly took us on a wonderful tour, such a beautiful house.

  8. We took a vacation years ago to New Orleans and toured several plantations...I loved every minute of and your friends looks so cute in this photo.

  9. Hi Latane, thanks for visiting my blog (Paint Party Friday post). I stumbled onto your google plus blog and saw your beautiful art work. I can't comment on google plus so I searched around to find you and here I am. Your tour of Shirley Plantation sounds delightful. I am looking forward to hearing about the trip on the river. My next door neighbor just moved here from Suffolk. You may know them (Branch).


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