Wednesday August 8th 2018
Today I returned to Colonial Williamsburg to tour in the hot August sun. The heat index today was over 100. Thankfully the buildings are air conditioned.
Watching the trades at work was big on the agenda today. I started with a visit to the wheelwrights shop. They had wheels of all sizes in various levels of completion. Next up was visit to the brickyard to get a demonstration on how bricks were made. They were only preparing the mud, filling the molds and setting the bricks to sun dry. Firing the bricks will be done in colder weather. Near the brickyard is the cabinet shop. They were making chairs, desks and a harpsichord at this time, but there were examples of tables, chests and other furniture they have created in the cabinet shop all with period tools.
In an other area of the colonial town I visited the silversmith and engraver. They provided more of a period lecture on the value of silver in the colonies, but they had some nice examples of the work in display cases. The blacksmith across the street was busy making axe heads and other tools of the era. It was a very popular exhibit. I was looking over the heads of many other people, so I didn’t stay long. All of these exhibits except the cabinet shop were exposed to the outside temperatures to get out of the heat I needed to tour other buildings.
I visited the R. Charlton Coffeehouse to interact with the people of the past and get a lesson on the history of the area around 1766. An “Irish serving girl” told her story about life in Williamsburg. One of my fellow visitors really got into it and started to interact with her as if he was a citizen of the era from Philadelphia. Let’s just say his wife wasn’t pleased. We were also entertained by the news of the day about the near lynching of the royal official commissioned to enforce the stamp act. There is an element of historical fiction to all of Colonial Williamsburg. You know there is true history being presented, but you’re not sure how much of the story is embellishment.
After the coffee house visit, I took a tour of the Colonial Capitol. Williamsburg was the capitol of the Virginia colony for about eighty years. The capitol was moved to Williamsburg in 1700 after the building in Jamestown burned and was relocated to Richmond around 1780. As part of the tour we got to site in the House of Burgesses where Patrick Henry made his famous speech against the Stamp Act. The Capitol building also contains the General Court. While setting in the court we got a history lesson on the origin of some of our rights as citizens. The lessons were presented in the form of a story about a cook that killed a tavern owners slave. It was another case of real history that was probably well embellished.
I lasted about four and a half hours of touring. There is still more to see, but I returned to the visitors center when I passed near a shuttle bus stop with a bus approaching. I will probably go back at least once more while I’m here. Tomorrow, I plan to go to Jamestown.