Events & Programs

  • Valentine’s Day at Stratford Hall


    On February 13, treat your Valentine to a special four-course dinner served by the Inn at Stratford Hall. Dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. $120 per couple. Dinner & special overnight lodging package costs $232 per couple. Reservations required. Call 804-493-1966 for reservations and information....

    February 13 @ 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm
  • “Reading Lee” with Bud Robertson


    Join Dr. "Bud" Robertson for the 2016 "Reading Lee" lecture at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library Auditorium on February 19, 2016, at 7 p.m. FREE to the public....

    February 19 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
  • Leedstown Resolves 250th Anniversary Commemoration

    Richard Henry

    FREE ADMISSION to the 250th anniversary commemoration of the Leedstown Resolves on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 11 a.m. in the Council House. Optional buffet luncheon (by reservation and not included with admission) is $15.95 per person. Sponsored by the Northern Neck of Virginia Historical Society and Str...

    February 27 @ 11:00 am - 12:45 pm

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Rediscover The Payne Family

With an oral tradition that their ancestors were slaves owned by Thomas Lee, the Payne family’s history has been closely linked with that of Stratford. Very few records of the African-American community at Stratford exist, but it is possible that the Payne name originated with the Payne family that lived and are buried near the colonial port of Leedstown. It is also possible that the Paynes descended from the slave West who was listed in Philip Ludwell Lee’s estate inventory of 1782.

The first recorded Payne at Stratford was William Payne (1833-1927) who was born on the plantation and worked, both before and after the Civil War, as butler and house servant for Mrs. Elizabeth Storke. He married Hannah Jackson from nearby Popes Creek Plantation. William’s brother Roderick Payne was Mrs. Storke’s driver. William “Bill” Payne is buried in the Shiloh Baptist Church cemetery, directly across from Stratford’s entrance, and his wife Hannah is buried at Stratford.

William Wesley Payne (1875-1954), son of William and Hannah, grew up at Stratford during Mrs. Storke’s ownership of the plantation. After Wesley married Louisa Mary Johnson in 1901, she worked as cook for the Stuart family who inherited the plantation from Mrs. Storke. The couple made their first home in the outbuilding northeast of the Great House. Wes (sometimes called West) worked at Stratford all except for four years after the death of his wife when he had to care for his youngest children.

Wesley Payne is best remembered for his lively interpretation of the kitchen yard after the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation purchased Stratford. Mrs. Lanier, President of the Foundation, offered Wesley Payne his choice of a monument marking his birth site. He preferred that a cabin, similar to the one in which he was born, be built on the knoll across from the Great House. The cabin, built to Wesley’s description, was constructed in 1941. Wesley Payne is buried in Shiloh Baptist Church cemetery.

Wesley and Louise Payne had ten children. Their son Ulysses Sylvester “Joe” Payne (1909-1985) worked at Stratford for fifty-three years. A veteran of World War II, Joe Payne began working for General and Mrs. B. F. Cheatham, Stratford’s first resident superintendent, and served as Head Gardener for many years. He married Dorothy Johnson, who became a historic interpreter at Stratford after her retirement from teaching school. Like his father and grandfather, Joe Payne is buried at Shiloh Baptist Church, located across from Stratford Hall.

Thomas Payne, Wesley’s brother, also grew up on Stratford. Laura Payne was one of his thirteen children. Laura lived in the west brick room of the Great House while working as cook for the Stuart family from the late 1920s to 1932. After her marriage to Leon Streets, who worked on the farm at Stratford, they lived in a tenant house that was moved to build the Executive Director’s house. In 1940 they built a home a short distance away on Route 3. Laura worked at Stratford for 57 years, mostly as head cook in the Plantation Dining Room. Laura and Leon’s daughter, Vernell [Cruse], was born at Stratford in 1936.

A new sign marker in the area of the former slave cemetery at Stratford memorializes the known Payne descendants who were buried there: Walter Payne (Wesley Payne’s uncle); Hannah Jackson Payne (Wesley Payne’s mother); Ardrick Payne (Wesley Payne’s brother); Lawrence Payne (Wesley Payne’s brother); Ardrick Payne (Wesley Payne’s great-uncle); William Payne (Wesley Payne’s great-uncle); Walter Payne (Wesley Payne’s great-uncle) and Hannah Payne (Wesley Payne’s sister).


1) 1920s, of William “Bill” Payne (1833-1926), who was born into slavery at Stratford. After gaining his freedom, Bill Payne continued to work for Elizabeth Storke, his former owner, as a house servant. For most of his life, he considered Stratford home; all of his children were born at Stratford Hall.

2) Wesley Payne

3) Payne Cabin, reconstructed

#blackhistorymonth #virginia #history

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This photo mashup from the Cultural Landscape Study shows the Great House in three different time periods (L-R: c.1897, 1920s, and today). #tbt ...

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In October 2015, we purchased a c.1815-1835 Baltimore sideboard for the Dining Room service area. It was immediatly packed up and sent to the conservator. This week it arrived at Stratford Hall. It will be on view in the Visitor Center until the Dining Room project is completed. ...

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