Robert E. Lee’s Slouch Hats

In 1977, Stratford Hall Plantation acquired a slouch hat worn by one of its famous occupants. Loaned long-term by the Comte de Grasse chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution from the historic Yorktown Customhouse, the Robert E. Lee campaign slouch hat (1981.080) was worn during the Civil War by General Lee. The decision to send the hat to Stratford was not a sudden one. In 1967, Regent Isabel Hall of the Comte de Grasse chapter contacted a Mrs. J.W. Dorsey Cooke of Stratford, explaining that the hat had the name of Robert E. Lee inscribed on the inside ... Read More »

What about the children at Stratford?

When we look at Stratford today, we see a relatively calm landscape. A house, outbuildings, gardens, work spaces, living areas, fields, barns, and all of them are (on an ordinary day) pretty darn quiet. But that wouldn’t have necessarily been the case during the Lee family’s ownership of Stratford. The historical record tells us quite vividly that there were children bringing life to Stratford’s now hushed spaces. And we all know that children bring with them a certain vivaciousness that cannot be denied Philip Ludwell Lee and his wife Elizabeth reared ... Read More »

Preservation Month at Stratford Hall…

May is recognized as Preservation Month around the country but here at Stratford Hall every month is Preservation Month. On the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s website for Preservation Month you will find the following paragraph: “May is Preservation Month! As in years past, the National Trust for Historic Preservation encourages preservation and Main Street organizations to use this month-long opportunity to showcase how they are celebrating and saving historic places year-round. This year’s theme, “New Age of Preservation: Embark, Inspire, Engage,” is meant to excite your current supporters and introduce new ... Read More »

Founding Mothers

Hannah Harrison Ludwell Lee was a mother to eleven children, only eight would survive to adulthood, two of whom, Francis Lightfoot Lee and Richard Henry Lee, signed the Declaration of Independence. Women’s lives in the eighteenth century were usually centered on their families. Some became responsible for the sewing that kept their families clothed.  Hannah, however, could provide wealth and position for her family.  She was determined, talented, and devoted. According to a Lee family account, Hannah embroidered this delightful “housewife” (a.k.a. sewing kit) seen below.   A variety of dainty blue ... Read More »

Image is Everything: 18th-Century Fashion and the Lees

Fashion crossed the Atlantic as fast as the ships could travel. The Lees, like many others in colonial Virginia, enjoyed and looked forward to the latest styles in clothing and fabrics. By 1750 the consumer revolution had brought about cheaper copies of fashionable styles, allowing members of all classes to partake in fashionable dress. With this, fashion began to represent an expression of individuality. The constant change in dress mirrored political and social ideals of the time. [caption id="attachment_8932" align="alignright" width="211"] Thomas Gainsborough, The Morning Walk (Portrait of Mr. and ... Read More »

Sustainable Agriculture at Stratford

I first heard the term ‘sustainable agriculture’ while reading the December 1995 edition of National Geographic. It was a relatively new term back then, popping up amid the organic farming movement to encompass something more. Though no certain definition could be created for ‘sustainable agriculture’, it did find three common core aspects: economically viable, environmentally friendly, and socially acceptable. Agriculture hasn’t always been sustainable here at Stratford. Early tobacco farming was very hard on the soil, depleting it of the vital nutrients needed to sustain plant growth. Today, it is the soil that we most look after in order to promote ... Read More »

Earth Day and Purple Squirrels, Oh My!

We celebrated Earth Day on Tuesday of this week. Whether you believe in global warming, or not, there is no doubt we have been on a crazy ride weather-wise here in the Northern Neck, just like the rest of the country. But then that is the point, we are not like the rest of the country. Our winters are usually fairly mild, never much snow; yes we might get the effects of a hurricane every seven to ten years, but an earthquake? Snowmageddon? A Derecho?  A Polar Vortex? An Allergy Vortex?  It is hard to figure out who is winning ... Read More »

Spring-ing into April

The month of March was an eventful one here at Stratford. Not only did we have daily temperatures span from 20 degrees to 70 degrees in just one day, we also experienced a tornado warning! The tornado narrowly missed Stratford, but the strong winds, torrential rain, and hail did do some damage on our property. Even though the tornado passed through in less than 10 minutes, multiple trees fell down due to the wind and rain, and one even fell on our Council House roof! ... Read More »

Big Brother is watching out for you….

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Espionage in the American Revolution

While spying or espionage seems to be a popular news item today, it is by no means new. Thousands of years ago the Roman Spartans were sending secret messages by “scytale,” a coded message on a strip of leather which was decoded by wrapping it around a stick and reading it. During the American Revolution 10% of the war effort was allocated to intelligence. Tory and patriot agents were employed—lured by gold pay. Such tricks as deception or disinformation to fool the British about Colonial plans were common. Campers in Stratford’s Grandparent/Grandchild summer camps will explore this fascinating subject, along with ... Read More »
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