It does seem that a fair proportion of Banished's Bugs has been given over to historic buildings of late. And here is another. After the Smithfield Farmer's market and breakfast at the Main Street Cafe we thought to take a left turn rather than a right and headed down the little travelled ( by us) road to Surry county. Yes Brits that's Surry without the e. Mrs.B and I were Jr. free this morning and just took a drive. Place names were new not just to me but to Mrs. B and she has lived around SE Virginia for 25 years. One signpost that intrigued us was Bacon's Castle and so we followed the signs not knowing if it was a feature or a town. 20 minutes down the road brought us to the Bacon's Castle crossroads and the turnoff onto a single track road. Another mile brought us to the gate and the drive to this amazing house.
This then is Bacon's Castle. It was originally known locally as Arthur Allen's Brick House when it was built in 1665. Yes that's right Sixteen Sixty Five. This turns out to be the oldest documented dwelling in Virginia and the oldest brick dwelling in North America. It seems bizarre that this isn't one of the biggest tourist attractions in the state. But my wife has never heard of it and there were about a dozen cars in the little grass parking lot. And so what else could we do but take the tour?
The original house is a cruciform Jacobean bulding that survives largely untouched and there is large 18th century addition to me side linked by a "hyphen".
Amazingly the house was owned by only 3 families from the time it was built until the early 1970s when Preservation Virginia took it over. That's more of something you'd expect in an English stately home and honestly this is about as close as one could come to that idea in the U.S. unless you include the estates of the 19th and early 20th century robber barons.
It is in the middle of absolutely nowhere the nearest other buildings being either an ugly prefab Baptist church and a rundown trailer park. Yet here is an English country house with a classic 17th century English formal garden along side. It seems some kind of a little miracle that it has survived though I'm undecided if it's lack of fame is a blessing or a curse. Personally I loved the quiet and would hate to see it turned into another Colonial Williamsburg.
It's a gem.
Just look at that gable-end and the chimneys (matched by the three at the other side of the house ) made decorative by the simple act of turning them through 45 degrees.
The name Bacon's Castle incidently derives from 1676 when followers of Nathaniel Bacon occupied the house as a local defensible base of operations for their rebellion against Govenor Berkeley. Happily while they made off with various of the portable contents they did so before the Royal Marines arrived and so the house was spared any conflict and so any structural damage .
Oh yes and there is a bonfire night party in November!