My trip to Williamsburg and Yorktown

I had a wonderful trip to Colonial Williamsburg and the Yorktown Victory Center in Virginia. It was a great opportunity to indulge my obsession with all things 18th-century.  <g> 

We thoroughly enjoyed both places, but we were particularly impressed with the Yorktown Victory Center, which emphasizes "living history", with outdoor exhibits where you can explore an 18th-century farm and a military encampment from the Revolutionary War.  The site is currently undergoing a major renovation (they're building a new Museum of the American Revolution, scheduled to open in 2016) but we were able to see quite a lot, and the museum there has an extensive collection of artifacts, covering not just the Yorktown battle but the entire period of the Revolution.

These signs in the Colonial Williamsburg Visitors Center made me laugh:

The photos below are organized by category, not by date. Photos marked with (W) were taken at Williamsburg, and photos marked with (Y) were taken at Yorktown.  As you look at these photos, you may recognize some of the items from my Friday Fun Facts posts.


Applying the ink (W)

Part of the printing press (W)

"Upper and lower case" trays for holding lead type (W)


Apothecary - notice all the carefully labeled containers (W)

Lavender, ginger, and camphor. (W)

Leather strips (with tooth marks!) for biting down during surgery (Y)

Medical chest like the one Jamie gave Claire in DRUMS. (W)

Military medical chest, showing the tiny bottles it contains. (Y)  The labels read (left to right): Snakeroot, Sage, Ipecacuanha, Peruvian Bark, Castor Oil, and Gum Arabic.

Doctor's desk (W)

Surgeon's tools (Y)

Here's a brief video I took of the doctor's office in the rear of the apothecary shop in Williamsburg.


Blacksmith (notice the red-hot iron!) (W)

Buckets made by a cooper. (W) They're much heavier than their modern counterparts!

Hogsheads (Y)

Women in the mantua-maker's shop, sewing by the window, where they have the best light. (W)


Caltrop, like the one on ECHO's cover. (Y)  It's small enough to fit easily in the palm of your hand.

Cannon (Y)

Cartridge box (W)

Postilion boots (Y), worn by cavalry, with extra protection for the feet to keep them from being crushed (for example, between two horses)

Re-enactor with musket (Y) - yes, that's a female, but don't tell, or they'll kick her out of the Continental army!

Here's a video showing how much faster a musket can be loaded and fired than a rifle.  This wasn't planned ahead of time; they did this demonstration for us on the spur of the moment.


Bed-key (Y). Used to tighten the ropes on a rope mattress, to keep it from sagging.  (You may recall that Claire used one of these in ABOSAA.)

Dining table (Y)

Lanterns (Y)

Laundry area (Y)

Oven. (W) We were told that it takes practice to learn how to judge the temperature.

Herbs and other bits of things hanging from the rafters to dry. (Y)

A sleeping space in the barn. (Y)


Lord Dunmore's proclamation offering freedom to slaves in Virginia who fought for the British. (Y)

Broadsheet announcing Cornwallis's surrender at Yorktown on Oct. 19, 1781. (Y)

War Club and tomahawk (Y) If you've read THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, you'll remember the club that Siverly used on Jamie, which looked like the one shown here.

Finally, if you're planning a visit to Williamsburg in the next few months, be sure to check out the "Threads of Feeling" exhibit in the art museum there. It's a collection of scraps of fabric worn by infants admitted to the London Foundling Hospital in the 18th century. (You may recall that Lord John and Percy attended an art exhibit in BOTB to benefit the Foundling Hospital.) It's a heartbreaking collection that really conveys the depth of feeling of the parents who could no longer care for their children.


jayjay said...

Thanks Karen - what a great time you had. It's too far to come from New Zealand, but I feel I was wandering along with you for some of the way.

Anne said...

What a great trip! I always find the clothing and medical things fascinating. Thanks for sharing your photos.

Niki said...

Very interesting. Thanks for sharing that.

Have you ever been to Old Salem, Guilford Courthouse National Military Park or Tannenbaum Park (next to Guilford Courthouse)? I highly recommend them if you haven't. Guilford Courthouse has its battle reenactment in March and there's living history at Tennenbaum on that same weekend.

The House in the Horseshoe (sight of a Revolutionary War skirmish) near Sanford is a neat place. The location is really peaceful and beautiful.

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