Glories of the West: Colonial Williamsburg Homeschool Days

Source: Colonial Williamsburg Homeschool Days | Colonial Williamsburg’s Facebook Page

So much goodness in this picture! The Governor’s Mansion at Colonial Williamsburg, once the capital of 18th-century Virginia, with adorable little girls in proper Colonial attire carrying a basket of naturally-dyed wool from (perhaps) some of the Leicester Longwool heritage sheep raised there. A recreation of early America at its finest! Anyone who claims that “America was never that great” should look at this picture, and be ashamed. Yes, we were still colonies of Great Britain at that point in history. But the groundwork was already being laid…

And then we have the excellent phenomenon of homeschooling, in which parents can opt their children out of the politically-correct agendas of so much of public (and even private) schooling! So glad that Colonial Williamsburg – historically one of the flagship sites for living history, and a major influence on me, in childhood and beyond – is providing programs in support. Children need to learn about our history and heritage, and there is no better way than through experiential learning.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has come under fire (not without justification, it must be said) in recent years, for apparent financial mismanagement, and also for some of its programming decisions: replacing costumed interpreters with docents in modern attire, canceling popular events, discouraging reenactor participation, and cashiering the popular tavern Balladeers, for example. But this, at least, deserves commendation.

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Fried Chicken In The 18th Century? 300 Year old Recipe | Townsend

An old English recipe from Nathan Bailey’s 1736 cookbook, “Dictionarium Domesticum,” courtesy of Jas. Townsend & Sons. Sounds tasty!

Glories of the West: Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums | YouTube

The glories of the West take many forms! This includes here in these United States, in this case in Colonial Williamsburg, the original capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia – “the Old Dominion,” the first colony in America settled by English settlers, in 1607, and a state with a rich history. Here we see the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums, performing in an important ceremony:

Graduation march of Johnny Shideler and Chris Hochella, corps members and friends for eight years. Recorded July 15, 2014, in a downpour.

The Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums are not professional musicians; they are local schoolchildren who volunteer to play 18th century music in 18th century attire for the benefit of visitors and others. This is no light task! From their website:

The Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums – also known as the Field Music of the Virginia State Garrison Regiment – carries forward the tradition of military music. Since 1958, visitors in The Revolutionary City have enjoyed the musical performances and experienced the history of America’s Revolution.

Colonial Williamsburg’s field musicians are drawn from a waiting list of young community applicants. Boys and girls begin their education in military music at age 10 and practice weekly for the next eight years, until after they have graduated from high school. These young people talk with the public about the role of music in the 18th-century military. They teach younger members the music and history lessons needed to continue the tradition of the field musicians.

The Fifes and Drums appear in more than 700 performances each year. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is justifiably proud of each of these truly remarkable young Americans, past and present. They have come to symbolize what is best about our community, our history, and our museum.

Nota Bene: “Boys and girls begin their education in military music at age 10 and practice weekly for the next eight years, until after they have graduated from high school. These young people talk with the public about the role of music in the 18th-century military.” The brief clip linked above is from the graduation march honouring two members who have “aged out” of the Fifes and Drums – and conducted in pouring rain, a mark of dedication if I have ever seen one!

For those who have liked what they’ve heard so far, here is a longer montage of performances by the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums:

Painstaking restoration underway to preserve Carter’s Grove

Carter’s Grove, one of the country’s most significant examples of Georgian architecture, survived the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.

Source: Painstaking restoration underway to preserve Carter’s Grove | Lifestyles | dailyprogress.com

Attacked in recent years by insects and damaged by water, the property on the north shore of the James River in James City County was in danger of falling into disrepair until a Chicago businessman bought the property about 8 miles southeast of historic Williamsburg in 2014 for $7.2 million — and took on the monumental task of preserving it.

While I am sorry it is no longer part of Colonial Williamsburg, I am very glad Carter’s Grove – one of the finest examples of a Georgian-era stately home in the United States – is being restored by someone who cares about the place! It was a feature of just about every visit to Williamsburg with my family, when I was growing up, and we went often. I hope the owner will open it to the public once again, when the restoration is complete. But in any case, it’s good to know the work is being done!