A Day in the Virginia Countryside – Part Three

The third part of our day in the Virginia countryside – Orange, VA to be exact –  was a tour of Montpelier, the recently renovated home of our fourth president, James Madison.

After a late morning arrival at the Fiber Festival, an easy lunch from local vendors, and a few good hours watching the sheepdog trials, we headed across the road and onto the 2,650 acres that make up today’s Montpelier. Deeded to Madison’s grandfather in 1723, Montpelier was the lifelong home of James Madison and remained in the family until 1844 when Dolly Madison sold the property.

At the time of the sale the property had decreased dramatically from the original acreage of 4,675 – thanks in no small part to the gambling debts of Dolly’s ne’er do well son.

Eight other families have owned Montpelier over the years but none had the impact of its owner of 82 years, the du Pont family.  Indeed, the will of the late Marion Scott du Pont specified that it would be appropriate to restore Montpelier “in such a manner as to conform as nearly as possible with the architectural pattern which existed when said property was owned and occupied by President Madison.”

Five years and $24 million dollars later, the terms of the du Pont will are close to completion.

The furniture and furnishings are not yet in place but knowledgeable and deeply committed docents make the rooms come alive.   A well appointed visitors center, ongoing archaeological exhibits, Confederate encampments, a slave cemetery, walking trails, and glorious gardens add to overall experience.

Garden Entrance with a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance

In addition, the estate maintains a full calendar of events including the Montpelier Wine Festival and the Montpelier Hunt.

My 90 yr. old mother-in-law in the Montpelier gardens >

And then it was time to leave.  Lunch was long behind us so we detoured through Fredericksburg, VA and stopped at the Colonial Tavern, Home to the Irish Brigade.  We happened on this boisterous Irish pub completely by accident and were the luckier for it.

Perfect fall weather called for outdoor seating which in turn gave us a chance to enjoy the easy camaraderie of this very friendly place.  Potato and leek soup, shepherd’s pie, onion rings to write home about and, of course, Irish spirits, made this the perfect finale to our day in the Virginia countryside.  It’s a trip we highly recommend!

Thanks for stopping by,

Michael

P.S. The program for the Fall Fiber Festival has a discounted coupon for Montpelier – a fact we didn’t notice until it was too late.

A Day in the Virginia Countryside – Part Two

A Day in the Virginia Countryside – Part One