Over our years in the needlework industry, I had heard of Colonial Willamsburg Historic District, but was not really sure what it was but wanted to visit if I had the chance. In the end Bill and I have been lucky enough to visit this fascinating place twice – once as a research trip and then as tour guides for Arena Tours where we took a party of ladies to visit and to stay in the Williamsburg Inn.
Colonial Williamsburg is a living-history museum and private foundation presenting part of a historic district in the city of Williamsburg, Virginia, USA. In effect, the area is a theme park but like no other I have ever seen.
When you pass through the admission turnstiles you are back on British soil. The idea is that you are visiting the town before Independence. During our first hour walking amongst the coaches and horses, the Governor’s house was stormed, and he ran away with his family. It was certainly living history!
On our first visit we stayed in the nearby town and travelled into the park and spent a long day taking in all the sights and sounds. When we arrived with the Arena tour party we were treated like Royalty at the Williamsburg Inn – limousines to take us anywhere on the High Street and fabulous lounges where we could sit and stitch.
At the dressmakers, the staff looking after the customers were all fashion students from the university with a few character actors added for a bit of glamour. We walked through the plantation where more history scholars were taking the part of slaves working amongst the cotton and the tobacco plants. In the blacksmith’s shed the young chap in the picture made me a large nail which I bought to hang keys at home.
During this visit I was able to wander the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum and I was able to examine some of the lovely early and primitive samplers in the display cases. The volunteer staff were so helpful and opened some of the display cases for me so that I could swoon over the little samplers. I was amazed by a little pocket sampler worked on tiny fabric and in such detail.
There were, of course, several beautiful but very costly embroidery and cross stitch kits available to buy in the museum shop but on this occasion I did resist. I just knew I would never get time to stitch someone else’s work!