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Christmas at Stratford Hall Plantation
Westmoreland County, Virginia

Stratford Hall is one of those great iconic houses that stands alone in the halls of American history as the birthplace of more great Americans from the same family, than almost any other, who effected dramatic and downright daring change, during their time. Each generation has its own heroes…those who with unbridled passion dared to follow their conscience in the face of almost insurmountable odds. The Lee family of Stratford Hall is just one of those families. The birthplace of two signers of the Declaration of Independence, this great house was witness to the birth pangs of a new nation that would go on to change the world. Oh, if only walls could talk!

Richard Henry Lee, a pivotal figure during the American Revolution, was the first president of the Unites States under the articles of confederation which preceded the United States Constitution. Although we always think of General George Washington as “the father of our nation,” it could actually be said that it was Richard Henry Lee who dared to assume that role against the greatest world power at that time — Great Britain. The other Lee brother to sign the Declaration of Independence was Francis Lightfoot Lee. The Lee family, who had much to loose as traitors to the British Crown, risked life, limb and all of their wealth in order to declare their independence from the King of England.

Stratford Hall is also the birthplace of three Virginia Governors: Thomas Lee, the first Virginia-born Lee who served the Commonwealth during colonial times, Henry (Light Horse Harry) Lee, who took his oath of office in 1791, and the grandson of Henry Lee, Fitzhugh Lee, who served as a confederate general during the Civil War and later was Governor of Virginia during the turbulent and trying reconstruction years, when Virginia was still reeling from the ravages of the war.

Although there were many generations of Lees who contributed astounding works to the Commonwealth and the nation, perhaps the most famous Lee of all, General Robert E. Lee, was born at Stratford Hall in 1807.

The “great hall” lies at the center of Stratford’s main floor, and was used for entertaining and receiving important guests and dignitaries. It has long been considered one of the most beautiful surviving rooms in America. It has been greatly photographed and has even served as a movie set for various films, such as The Patriot.

This year, as in years past, you are invited to take a trip back in time and visit Stratford Hall Plantation as a guest for “Christmas at Stratford.”

Visitors will be greeted by refresh-ments and entertainment in the Stetson Visitors Center and will travel across the bridge to the gift shop area, where they will be greeted by a true colonial bonfire. It is here that you will meet your guide, who will lead you on a journey where you will personally experience a taste of Christmas in colonial times, at Stratford.

The first stop on the tour, will be the detached kitchen where you will discover how food was prepared for the Lees and their guests. Your guide will then take you through parts of the Great House, where you will see how the food was served and view period decorations and festivities that would have occurred at Stratford during this time.

If you have ever been to a “Christmas at Stratford” celebration, you know how wonderful it is and what a wonderful tradition it has been all these years. If you have never been and are looking for a special living history event to attend over the holiday season, you will not want to miss Christmas at Stratford Hall. The plantation is located on Route 218, approximately 2 miles off of Route 3 in Westmoreland County.

“Christmas at Stratford” will be celebrated on Friday, December 12 and Saturday, December 13, 2008. “Great House” tours will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. both evenings. Admission for the tours will be $10 for adults and $5 for children.

Many people over the years have found the dining hall at Stratford Hall to be an excellent place to enjoy delicious, traditional Virginia fare as it would have been served in colonial times. Dinner will be served on Friday, Dec. 12, at 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. On Saturday, dinner will be served at 4:00, 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. Please call in advance as Dinner is by reservation only.

The Christmas dinner menu includes prime rib, fried oysters, silver dollar crab cakes, sliced Virginia baked and country ham, roasted red potatoes, rice pilaf, candied carrots, seasoned green beans, biscuits, pecan pie, red velvet cake, fruitcake, coconut cake, and iced tea or coffee.

Reservations can be secured by credit card only. Your card will be charged for the full amount one week prior to 
the dinner.

The price for the dinner is $48.00 (ages 12 and up), $24.00 (ages 6-11) and children age 5 and under are free. This includes not only dinner but the cost of your tour ticket as well. Please make your reservations now to ensure your choice of date and seating times. Dinner and lodging can be reserved by calling Neva Folk at 804-493-8038, ext. 8504.

“Christmas at Stratford” is the high-light for many Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck families. Actually, people come from Richmond, Washington, DC, Virginia Beach and beyond to celebrate a colonial Christmas in a true close up and personal experience. See you there!

For more information on the history of Stratford Hall, “Christmas at Stratford” or other special events, please visit Stratford Hall online at www.stratfordhall.org.


Written by Karin Andrews, Contributing Writer