We are rapidly losing the generation of Americans who won WWII.

The Passing of a Generation

Within a single week in July, 2014 I attended the funerals of two World War II veterans: RADM Thomas Bass, who served for many years as the Director of Stratford Hall, and my uncle, John Reber. During World War II (WWII), Admiral Bass commanded a submarine chaser, SC 676, in the Mediterranean Sea. He participated in the North African campaign …

Figure Five Stratford Hall's slouch hat.

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 …

Nursey

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 …

Dining Room

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 …

Front of Inner

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 …

Thomas Gainsborough, The Morning Walk (Portrait of Mr. and Mrs. William Hallett), 1785

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 …

Cattle

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 …

Purple Squirrel

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 …

The Oval

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 …

Big Brother is watching out for you….

After the death of his father Thomas, Philip Ludwell Lee of Stratford—Thomas’s eldest son—was responsible for the education of two of his younger brothers.  According to Thomas Lee’s will, his executors (Phil was one of them) were to maintain and educate his two youngest sons out of his estate “in such manner as they think fitt Religiously and virtuously and …

ABC

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 …