Thomas Carter Home Site Archaeological Dig

April 2016

Mary Ball Washington Museum & Library and Historic Christ Church & Museum are proud co-sponsors of an archaeological dig in Lancaster County May 12-14, 2016. Funded by The Carter Society (TCS) of Descendants of Colonial Virginia Carters through individual donations, the work will be conducted by the Fairfield Foundation in Gloucester County. They will conduct a shovel test survey on five acres of land at West Point Road where the Corotoman River divides into the Eastern and Western branches. The Farley family owns the 30-acre property and has given permission to carry out the exploratory dig. The rain date for the project is May 26-28.

Volunteers are encouraged to help with the dig but are asked to contact Dave Brown at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so that the work can be organized and scheduled over the 3-day period. Observers are also very welcome to attend and are asked to contact Dave in advance. Tax deductible donations are welcome and can be sent to TCS treasurer, Ben Kemplin, 12345 Bowling Green Road, Alburn, KY  42206; please designate for "TCS Discovery and Preservation Fund."

Thomas Carter was an early immigrant to Lancaster County, arriving sometime in the mid-1600s. He married Katharine Dale, the daughter of Edward Dale and Diana Skipwith Dale on 4 May 1670. Edward Dale, a prominent Lancaster County official, gave the 500-acre property to the newlywed couple as a gift, and they established their home near the water front. There they raised thirteen children, nine of whom lived to adulthood. The children and their godparents, all well-known local residents from the Carter, Chowning, Conway, Corbyn, Ball, Dale, Fox, Lee, and Stretchly families, as well as Lady Ann Skipwith, are documented in Thomas Carter’s 1662 Book of Common Prayer, now owned by the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond. In this prayer book, Thomas Carter identified himself as “Mr. Thomas Carter of Barford in ye county of Lancaster in Virga.” Many believe Barford identified his origins in Bedfordshire, England, but some have claimed it identified his property, sometimes in modern times referred to as “Barford.”  

The eldest son was Edward, probably named after his maternal grandfather; the second son was Thomas, Jr. who was a close business associate of Robert “King” Carter and inherited “The Old Home Place,” after his father’s death in 1700. Several generations occupied the house until all of the property was eventually sold to Col. James Gordon. Sons Edward, John and Henry Skipwith Carter also inherited portions of the property. Other sons and daughters went on to become successful members of Christ Church Parish, and St. Mary’s White Chapel. It is said that Henry Carter inherited part of the property on the top of the hill near Merry Point, now known as Verville, and built a portion of the present house in 1725. This property is owned by Mr. Ammon G. Dunton, Jr. and will be one of several Lancaster properties featured on the April 27 Historic Garden Week tour, “Following Country Roads in Lancaster County.”

Contacts for further information: Robert Lumsden, organizer, and Mary Ball and Christ Church volunteer, Heathsville, VA. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and David Brown, Archaeologist, Fairfield Foundation, Gloucester, VA. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Historic Christ Church to Host Kirking of the Tartan

April 2016

The Foundation for Historic Christ Church will be the site of the annual Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan on April 24 at 12:30 p.m. Grace Episcopal Church, Campbell Memorial Presbyterian Church, and the Kilmarnock & District Pipe and Drums will assist in the program while St. Andrew’s Society of Williamsburg will act as color guard.

The word Kirking comes from the Scottish Gaelic word for kirk, meaning church, or, in this case, “blessing.” Tartans are the traditional plaid emblems of Scottish clans. According to Marilyn Hedges, publicity chair, many attendees at the Sunday service will wear tartans representing their clans.

Although the legend of the Kirkin’ goes back to 1745 and “Bonnie Prince Charlie,” it wasn’t until the 20th century that the custom came to America. The Reverend Peter Marshall, one-time pastor of Washington, D.C.’s New York Avenue Presbyterian Church and Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, recreated the ceremony to instill pride among Scottish-Americans in their Scottish homeland. Today, people of many denominations remember the Highlander patriotism, faithfulness, and independence by the wearing of the tartans and the playing of the bagpipes. 

Cooking in 18th Century Virginia

April 2016

What did they eat?  How did they prepare food?  Where did they get the ingredients? 

These and other questions will be answered by Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Foodways Interpreter Kimberly Costa on Saturday, April 23 at 2 p.m. at Historic Christ Church & Museum. According to Marilyn Hedges, Publicity Chair, Costa will evaluate the foods, kitchens, utensils and cooking practices of Virginians of different social levels (e.g., gentry, middling, lower cast).

This will be the final lecture describing life in colonial Virginia in the 18th century. Previous experts have highlighted clothing and dressmaking, health and medicine, and wine for the New World. Costa has worked in the field of living for more than 20 years. She holds degrees in liberal arts and U.S. history and theater. As a Foodways Interpreter, Costa is well-versed in the ways 18th century Virginians prepared their meals, says Hedges.

The lectures take place in the Bayne Center on the Historic Christ Church campus at 420 Christ Church Road, Weems. Tickets for the lecture are $10. They may be purchased the day of the lecture. For more information, see www.christchurch1735.org.

Historic Christ Church & Museum to Welcome Visitors April 1

March 2016

From the beginning of December through the end of March, Historic Christ Church & Museum (HCC&M) is closed for daily tours. According to Marilyn Hedges, Publicity Chair, however, that time is busy as the Foundation Board of Directors, the Volunteer Council, staff and various committees have been creating a full program of activities for the 2016 season. Research volunteers have met to discuss ongoing projects and identify ideas for new ones. The Marketing, Craft Beer Fest, and Development Committees have scheduled events, including the popular Beer Fest, which will be held this year on September 3. The public has already heard lectures on dressmaking, medicine, and wine in 18th-century colonial life and will learn about colonial Virginia food preparation, diners’ tastes and customs in April. Volunteers are delighted by the new items for HCC&M’s gift shop, where visitors can choose a reasonably-priced selection of articles for the home, for children, and for themselves.

March is always the month for continuing education for current and potential new volunteers. This year’s programs included lectures on the similarity between Anglican and colonial Virginia church design, new information about Historic Christ Church builder Robert Carter, and a description of “The Carters of Corotoman and Dynastic Ambition Among the Early Virginia Gentry.” Research Chair Dr. Kathy Galgano challenged volunteers to identify questions to Jeopardy answers on food, wine, medicine, and clothing. The Continuing Education program this year concluded with a Colonial Virginia Lunch Buffet, prepared by Board member Dr. Pam Ward and featuring Brunswick stew, ham biscuits, Mrs. Robert E. Lee’s cornbread and more.

All of this will culminate Friday, April 1, as volunteers and staff officially open the season at Historic Christ Church & Museum. Hours are Monday through Saturday 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. until November 30. The visitor experience includes a short introductory film, a visit to the museum and a special tour of the church led by a knowledgeable docent.

HCC&M will charge a modest $5 admission fee for the museum and tour of the church. The fee will help support new programs and exhibits to offer a high-quality experience. HCC&M members, volunteers, children under 18 and active or retired military are always free.

Executive Director Clare Adams is excited to welcome in the 2016 season at Historic Christ Church & Museum. She is confident that visitors will enjoy one of the best museum experiences at one of the most historic sites in the Northern Neck.

Historic Christ Church & Museum Preparing for 2016 Visitor Season

March 2016

Each March, Historic Christ Church & Museum conducts continuing education for new and returning volunteers. Volunteers, staff, Foundation board members, and experts in colonial history recently participated in the 2016 program, reported Marilyn Hedges, publicity chair. It featured the educational theme “Everyday Life in the 17th and 18th Centuries" with a focus on food, wine, clothing, and medicine.

Past President Tony Waring recapped the successful 2014-2015 roof restoration project. He noted that replacing the 1897 slate roof was completed just one day before the annual Craft Beer Fest. Research Committee volunteers Therese Horwath, Dr. Anne Davis, and Susan Bober presented information on 17th and 18th century Virginia food, medicine and clothing while Executive Director Clare Adams discussed wine, cider and beer in the colonial period. Susan McFadden of Open Door Communications spoke about the 2016 rebranding of Historic Christ Church as Historic Christ Church & Museum to fully convey the experience offered to visitors. Volunteer Ronnee Taylor outlined the six books that will be part of the HCC Readers book group and reflect the themes for 2016. Historian and Director of Education Robert Teagle presented new information about Robert Carter, the builder of this magnificent church.

Keynote speakers were a highlight of the program. Colonial Williamsburg's Architectural Historian and Foundation board member Dr. Carl Lounsbury gave a compelling lecture describing the similarity between Anglican church design and that of the Virginia Colony. Lounsbury concluded that “...Virginians made few changes to a plan that had served them well for more than a century since it was established at Jamestown during the first few years of English settlement in the new world." Another distinguished speaker was Professor John Coombs, Ph.D. of Hampden-Sydney College whose topic was “The Carters of Corotoman and Dynastic Ambition among the Early Virginia Gentry."

Key Historic Christ Church & Museum volunteers lead the three-morning program. Pam Ward, Ph.D., Education Chair and her committee crafted the 2016 program, which included "What's New for 2016" and a Historic Christ Church & Museum version of Jeopardy, prepared by Research Chair Dr. Kathy Galgano. This fun-filled session quizzed the audience on the prior presentations on colonial food, clothing, wine, and medicine. The conclusion was a “Colonial Virginia Lunch Buffet” prepared by Pam Ward and featuring Brunswick stew, ham biscuits, Mrs. Robert E. Lee's cornbread, and more. Volunteers agreed that it was a successful, educational, and interesting continuing education program for the visitor season, opening April 1.

Historic Christ Church & Museum welcomes new volunteers year-round and offers a stimulating and fun environment for those who love history and people. For further information, please call the Foundation Office at 804-438-6855.

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