Results 1-5of 5 Reviews
by Anne-Marie Byrne
Westchester County, New York
August 7, 2010
ashbourne, United Kingdom
March 26, 2010
From journal Back in the USA
by two cruisers
November 28, 2007
From journal Plantation Hopping
New Bern, North Carolina
January 23, 2006
There are four brick outbuildings forming a Queen Anne forecourt which is believed to be the only remaining example in America of this architectural style. These include a large two story kitchen, laundry house and two L-shaped barns, one with the ice cellar beneath it. Other original structures include the stable, smokehouse, root cellar, pump house and dovecote.
There is a gift shop on the premises and an admission fee is charged which helps preserve and improve this unique part of our history. Shirley Plantation has been designated a National Historic Landmark
From journal The Grand Illumination in Colonial Williamsburg
Riverview, New Brunswick
October 7, 2003
I think I was expecting the Virginian equivalent of an English great house, and perhaps that was naïve of me, because let me preface this description by saying I found Shirley to be disappointing.
Shirley is an extremely old plantation, settled c.1613. Granted to the Hill family in 1660, the mansion was begun in 1723 with the marriage of Elizabeth Hill to the son of "King" Carter. It was completed in 1738 looking very much as it does today. It is an extremely impressive building, a study in symmetry. Unfortunately, all you will see is the ground floor as the family still lives in the house. I find it disingenuous to claim that this National Historic Landmark receives no funds from government or private agencies, that the admission helps to preserve it . . . and at $10 a head, allow the family to occupy it. That may be the only resemblance that it has to an English great house, but at least in the latter, the ground floor or the north wing is a treasure worth seeing.
What you will see is a magnificent flying staircase that rises three floors with no visible means of support. You will see comfortable principle rooms filled with original woodwork and family portraits and mementos that hearken back to colonial America. It is a home through which the tide of history has flowed . . . it has been part of the Revolutionary and Civil wars and it sits in a particularly attractive position overlooking the James.
I had said previously that the house is an exercise in symmetry and I think that the site and the layout are what the visitor will take away with him. The outbuildings are situated to create a forecourt as one approaches the house. The whole effect of a long walkway with first the tool barn and the granary straddling it and then the similar-looking laundry house and kitchen in the same juxtaposition is one of extreme order, and of course, extreme wealth. It is in those buildings, as well as the stables, the dovecote and the smoke house where one is expected to spend much of his time here . . . which means you will be poking about in empty buildings.
By now, you might have noticed that I had mixed feelings about Shirley. The one effect of the visit was to discourage visitations to the other plantations. Should you wish to explore further, try shirleyplantation.
From journal The Environs of Williamsburg and Richmond