There is so much fascinating history here in Virginia that I don't think I would be able to see it all even if we stayed put for 10 years. I was able to explore colonial life during the Revolutionary War timeframe when I went back to Williamsburg, this time to see the insides of all the buildings! My mom, Eliza and I got to tour the impressive Governor's Palace (you're looking at the back side of it in this picture), which was really interesting. This isn't the original structure, which was destroyed by fire, but all the buildings on the site have been rebuilt with as much accuracy as possible.
This is the front of the Palace. I took this photo the last trip we made to Williamsburg - the time we brought the kids and they were less than interested (it's hard to compete with the thrill of Busch Gardens) so we didn't go inside any of the buildings.
Eliza was much more excited to tour Williamsburg this time around, partly because it was a special day with Grandma and partly because she has been learning a lot of colonial history at school and via Liberty's Kids (an animated series depicting Revolutionary times available on Netflix).
The neat thing about the people guiding tours here is that they're all in costume and act like they really live in that time period. Here is a "house servant" showing us the front entry of the Palace. Check out that gorgeous woodwork!
There were swords and various guns on display throughout the entire front hall. I can't remember how many weapons she said were there, but it was enough to provide a small army with whatever they needed. Just in case the pesky colonists got out of hand, of course. Actually, the last royally appointed governor spent the last year of his governorship on a ship in the harbor because the Palace had been overtaken by the Yankees.
The entire mansion was decorated with the finest woodwork and detail. This was an elaborate post at the foot of the main staircase. I can't imagine how long it must have taken to create all of the interior architecture with such precise craftsmanship. Nor can I imagine how much money it must have required to achieve such a task!
Here is the master bedroom, all decked out with a very fancy canopy bed. The fabric is hand-painted cotton...can you imagine painting such detail over and over again by hand? I wonder if they at least had some sort of a stamping device to get the placement of the images correctly situated. Notice the fancy millwork all over the walls. I cringed to see it all covered in paint, especially because it's all painted the same color. That's how all the smaller rooms were painted = all the same color. If it were me I'd paint the cove molding white along with some of the other details to break it up a bit, but that apparently was not the style back then.
How about that kelly green paint in the dining area off of the ballroom? I'm just so grateful they didn't paint the absolutely stunning trimwork the same color. (audible sigh of relief)
The ballroom was a bright turquoise color. I didn't get any good photos of that room because of the large crowd of people in the room at the same time I was there. They apparently liked bright colors in the late 1700's!
This ornate wood stove was amazing. There was one in the ballroom and one in the dining area.
I had never seen a stove shaped this way, nor had I ever seen one embellished with so much detail. I don't know if these were restored from the original structure or if they procured them after rebuilding the palace. In any case, it's a fascinating example of ironwork.
This photo was taken in an upstairs parlor. Again, everything is decadent and ornate. That "wallpaper" is hand-tooled leather, and it covered all the walls in this rather large room. I can't imagine how a person would even go about making leather wallpaper with an ornate relief pattern such as this. All of the repeats matched precisely too - it was really quite amazing. Not especially a look that I adore, but technically awe-inspiring.
The 10 acres of gardens surrounding the Governer's Palace were as interesting as the inside of the palace. These cylindrical boxwood shapes were GIGANTIC - I'd say they were about 12 feet high, which you can't really sense in the photo.
At every turn and in every corner, there were lovely little vignettes of garden charm.
This was the orchard. The fruit trees are trimmed and trellised so that the fruit is easily picked without ladders.
I'm not sure of the function of this little "tower" in the corner of the orchard, but it provides a lovely focal point in the garden.
This living tunnel was one of our favorite spots in the garden. I'm sure it was a favorite spot for the noble youngsters of the Palace as well, back in the day.
I love all the gnarled and twisty branches of these trees, and I wonder how they came to be that way. Must have been something they did to train them into a canopy form.
Out in the town, we got to tour various trade shops, such as the silversmith. Here he is polishing a piece of silver, which is a very time-consuming task because it has to be done in several stages (from rough stones to very smooth stones). All of the people working in these shops are actual apprentices and artisans and they really do have the skills required to make the goods that they sell. It was very neat to see them at work. I forgot to take pictures of most of the shops, but there was a big blacksmith shop, bookbindery, coffee house, millinery and tailor shop, wigmaker, cobbler, and plenty of taverns and bakeries.
This was the millinery shop. Notice the fancy whale-bone corset piece hanging from the ceiling, and all the elaborate details of the gown in the corner. It always blows me away that such intricate and very well crafted things were made in the days before sewing machines. I certainly would come in dead last in any sort of hand stitching competition with Colonial-era women!
This final photo was taken in the High Court Room of what used to be the state's Capitol building. Again, such a beautiful display of fine carpentry work. You can see how thick the exterior walls are by looking at the window casings. I learned all sorts of things on the tour of the Capitol about the political climate back then and how very dangerous it was for Virginia to declare itself independent of the King's rule. There were huge obstacles in convincing all of the 13 colonies to unite and to be able to declare independence as a nation rather than a disorganized cluster of states and parts of states. It was truly miraculous that they were able to eventually gain complete freedom from the crown, but it was only after incredible sacrifice that they were able to win the war. Living here in Virginia has made the 4th of July a much more meaningful and "real" holiday. So many people have devoted their whole lives and many have even lost their lives to the cause of freedom and justice for all. I hope that we will never forget those sacrifices and may we in the USA cling to the inspired document of the Constitution to guide us in the future.