News and notes from Fredericksburg's entertainment scene
Historic houses open for ‘jollity’
BY CRAIG SCHULIN
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
There were no door-buster specials, no decorated trees or even a portly gentleman dressed in bright red.
Christmas in early America was a bit simpler than we know it today, but still an occasion embraced as a time for merriment, feasting and getting together with friends and family.
Two area historic homes will be hosting guests in their annual Christmas celebrations this weekend, and visitors can get a glimpse of what Thomas Jefferson described as a time of “jollity.”
Stratford Hall will celebrate the season with its 1774 Christmastide.
A candlelight tour of the birthplace of Robert E. Lee is just one of the offerings there this Saturday.
Col. Phil Lee and his wife, the owners of Stratford in 1774, “welcome guests” to watch, even join perhaps, the Rappahannock Colonial Heritage Society’s dancers in the ballroom.
George Washington’s Young Friends will be on hand in costume and character to chat about Colonial life in the Northern Neck.
As it is today, imbibing played a big part at Christmas celebrations.
“Our 18th-century beverage-making demonstrations were pretty popular last year,” said Jon Bachman, public events manager at Stratford.
“People back then liked punches and hot toddies. Visitors here can listen to how they were made and get the recipe. No sampling, though,” said Bachman.
For an additional cost above the regular price of admission, carriage rides will be provided by Oakley Farm Carriage Service.
Reservations can be made for dinner that is being served in Stratford’s dining hall.
At the time this article was written, reservations for the 4 p.m. seating were still available.
Lodging on the grounds is available as well.
Visitors to James Madison’s Montpelier will also be able to experience early American Christmas celebrations.
Each night this weekend “Dolley Madison,” the vivacious wife of our fourth president, will greet visitors to the home for a candlelight tour.
“Dolley loved to host parties, to socialize,” said Doug Smith, acting senior vice president for advancement at the Montpelier Foundation.
“The decorations here will be at their height, and visitors will get the chance to see period dancing in the Grand Salon and hear singers outside on the grounds,” said Smith.
Finger food, wine and hot cider will be served.
“The experience here harkens back to a much simpler time. It really gets you in the mood for the holidays,” said Smith.
WANT TO GO:
What: 1774: A Stratford Hall Christmastide
Where: Stratford Hall, 483 Great House Road, Stratford
When: Dec. 8, 4:30–8:30 p.m.
Cost:$10 adults/$5 children; carriage rides $5 (toddlers, infants free); Christmas dinner extra (reservations required)
Info: 804/493-8038, stratfordhall.org
What: Montpelier Candlelight Tour
Where: 11407 Constitution Highway, Orange
When: Dec. 7–9, 4:30–8 p.m.
Cost: $35 adult/$5 child (ages 6–14)
Info: 540/672-2728, ext. 141; montpelier.org
Craig Schulin: 540/374-5403