Bacon’s Castle: 350th Arthur Allen House Anniversary, Surry, Virginia

by DerdriuMarriner

Bacon’s Castle and oldest North American formal garden host the 350th Arthur Allen Western Hemisphere Jacobean Great House Anniversary in Surry, Virginia.

Bacon's Castle evokes Allen, Hankins, and Warren genealogies

Bacon’s Castle assumes North American architectural significance as:

• oldest documented brick dwelling in Virginia;
• one of three Western Hemisphere Jacobean great houses extant;
• sole domestic high-style seventeenth-century building extant.

It boasts evidence as:

• oldest North American English-style formal pleasure garden;
• Surry County militia headquarters during Nathaniel Bacon’s (January 2, 1647 – October 26, 1676) Rebellion of 1676.

Architectural, landscape, and socio-political historians properly consider the U.S. National Historic Landmark, U.S. National Register of Historic Places, and Virginia Landmarks Register site Allen’s Brick House. The designation defers to:

• Arthur Allen (1602 – June 1, 1670), as original occupant-owner;
• Arthur Allen II (1627 – September 5, 1710), as inheriting child;
• Arthur Allen III (June 1, 1649 – July 20, 1736), as inheriting grandchild.

*****

Email: baconscastle@preservationvirginia.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/bacons castle
Fax: 757-357-5732
Mailing Address: Post Office Box 364 Surry, Virginia 23883
Physical Address: 465 Bacon's Castle Trail, Surry, Virginia 23883
Telephone: 757-357-5976 site, 757-357-9317 garden
Website: preservationvirginia.org/visit/historic-properties/bacons-castle

Cellphone self-guided tours, dawn to dusk, Tuesdays through Thursdays

Hours, March through November, with last interpreter-guided tour beginning at 4:00 p.m.:
Fridays, Saturdays: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.;
Sundays: 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m.
Mondays: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Memorial Day to Labor Day

*****

"Bacon's Castle Surry Co Va R.H. Cocke": drawing ca. 1820 of southwest front and northwest side (gable end) by Colonel Richard Herbert Cocke (September 5, 1769-July 11, 1833), who inherited castle via Uncle Benjamin's marriage to Arthur Allen's daughter ~

At time of drawing, Bacon's Castle had stood its ground for more than 150 years.
1940 Public Works Administration Program: Historic American Buildings Survey
1940 Public Works Administration Program: Historic American Buildings Survey

Bacon's Castle favors authentically formal gardens, sparse interiors

 

No record exists regarding the identity of the architect contracted on 200 acres (80.94 hectares) patented in 1649 by Arthur Allen -- immigrant, justice of the peace, merchant, planter -- to build the Jacobean-styled two-and-a-half-storied cruciform (cross-plan) structure with:

  • curved, stepped Flemish end-gables;
  • English bond-laid brick walls;
  • exterior window surrounds of pargeted (plastered), raised brick;
  • molded brick water table;
  • openings with diamond-paned casement windows;
  • plastered second-story string-course surround;
  • projecting front two-story entry and rear stair-towers;
  • sandstone-tiled, steep-pitched roof;
  • triple cap-joined, diagonally set chimneys rising from a straight stack 4 feet (1.22 meters) deep by 10 feet (3.05 meters) wide.

But the Library of Congress furnishes floor plan copies on-line. It also gives photographed exterior and interior views.  

 

Bacon's Castle with .1 mile drive and iron fence enclosure: castle, grounds, well, and buildings (barns, carriage house, chicken house, corn crib [burned], farm barn, peanut barn, quarters, smokehouse, tool shed, wood shed)

measured July 19, 1940; drawn August 1940 ~ W.T. Ramsay, Field Team delineator ~ scale: 1 inch = 64 feet
1940 Public Works Administration Program: Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS)
1940 Public Works Administration Program: Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS)

Bacon's Castle historically gathers power-holders, rebels, servants, slaves

 

As the United States of America’s first statewide historic preservation organization, the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities holds fast to buying, preserving, and stabilizing significant landscapes and structures since 1889. It interweaves correspondence, digs, maps, paintings, photographs, reminiscences, reports, and surveys to ensure landform/landmark integrity for:

  • 6 historic sites;
  • 200+ legacy properties.

Bacon’s Castle therefore juggles self-guided, interpreter-staffed public access, as do:

  • Cape Henry Lighthouse (1792);
  • Jamestowne (1607);
  • John Marshall House (1790);
  • Patrick Henry’s Scotchtown (1719);
  • Smith’s Fort Plantation (1761).

Excluding 1740s-/1850s-dated alterations and 1850s-dated Greek Revival additions, the 9300-square-foot (863.99-square-meter) mansion keeps authenticity intact with:

  • basement kitchen, garret servant quarters;
  • first-floor chamber/parlor, hall closets and fireplace;
  • second-floor east, west rooms;
  • tower trio of rooms.  

 

Details of Bacon's Castle's trio of chimneys

measured July 19, 1940; drawn August 1940 ~ R.C. Neale, measurer; W.T. Ramsay, measurer and delineator
1940 Public Works Administration Program: Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS)
1940 Public Works Administration Program: Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS)

Bacon's Castle hosts community, educational, holiday, special events

 

Correspondence, Garden Club of Virginia-funded digs of 1984 - 1991, maps, and surveys lead the APVA to restore the 1680-dated, one-and-a-half-acre (0.61-hectare) garden with:

  • packed white-sand paths;
  • six rectangular grid-contained plots for apple, Cherokee rose, columbine, eggplant, elecampane, fig, gourds, grapes, hawthorne, hollyhock, hops, lamb’s-ear, larkspur, lemon thyme, love-lies-bleeding, mother-of-the-evening, mullein, okra, onions, pecan, pomegranate, poppywort, red clover, rosemary, scaly bark watermelons, sensitive plant, snapdragon, sweet potato.

They monitor:

  • brewery/laundry/kitchen/root-cellar, garden brickwork remains;
  • cattle bones and wine bottles from the Rebellion’s four-month occupancy;
  • extant barns, caretaker’s house, slave-house, smokehouse.

On-going inspections currently notify the APVA ownership (since 1973) of $350,000 price-tags to keep Bacon’s Castle culturally enriching, educationally entertaining, and geo-historically enthralling from 2015’s 350th anniversary onward. 

 

Bacon's Castle: 17th century colonial America's Jacobean rarity, still impressively standing in 21st century

Surry County, southeastern Virginia
Surry County, southeastern Virginia

Acknowledgment

 

My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.

 

Bacon's Castle: first-floor west room, looking northwest: 1940 Historic American Buildings Survey photograph

1940 Public Works Administration Program: Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS)
1940 Public Works Administration Program: Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS)

Sources Consulted

 

Ancestry.com. 2012. “Arthur Allen Sr.” U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, U.S.A: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://search.ancestrylibrary.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?gss=angs-g&new=1&rank=1&msT=1&gsfn=arthur+&gsln=allen&mswpn__ftp=Surry+County%2c+Virginia%2c+USA&mswpn=2834&mswpn_PInfo=7-%7c0%7c1652393%7c0%7c2%7c3245%7c49%7c0%7c2834%7c0%7c0%7c&MSAV=1&msddy=1669&msdpn__ftp=Surry+County%2c+Virginia%2c+USA&msdpn=2834&msdpn_PInfo=7-%7c0%7c1652393%7c0%7c2%7c3245%7c49%7c0%7c2834%7c0%7c0%7c&catbucket=rstp&uidh=lx5&pcat=ROOT_CATEGORY&h=118813062&db=FindAGraveUS&indiv=1&ml_rpos=1

Andrews, Stephenson B., ed. 1984. Bacon's Castle Surrey County Virginia. Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities Research Bulletin No. 3. Richmond VA: Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities.

“Bacon’s Castle, State Route 617, Surry, Surry County, VA.” Library of Congress > Prints & Photographs Reading Room > Prints & Photographs Online Catalog > Record. Retrieved August 2015. Available @ http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/VA0955/ 

“Bacon’s Castle.” National Park Service > National Register of Historic Places > Travel > James River Plantations > List of Sites > Surry County. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/jamesriver/bac.htm 

“Bacon’s Castle.” Virginia Historical Society > Collections and Resources > The Garden Club of Virginia > House Sites. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://www.vahistorical.org/collections-and-resources/garden-club-virginia/house-sites/bacons-castle 

“Bacon’s Castle.” Virginia Tourism Corporation > Things To Do > Historic Sites. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://www.virginia.org/Listings/HistoricSites/BaconsCastle/ 

“Bacon’s Rebellion.” Preservation Virginia > Historic Properties > Bacon’s Castle. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://www.apva.org/BaconsCastle/BaconsRebellion.php 

“Bacons Castle.” Gardenvisit.com > Gardens > USA > Virginia. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://www.gardenvisit.com/garden/bacons_castle 

Erickson, Mark St. John. 18 June 2015. “New Find at Ancient Bacon’s Castle.” Daily Press.com > Features > Archaeology > HR History. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://www.dailypress.com/features/history/dp-nws-bacons-castle-archaeology-20150618-story.html 

“Garden.” Preservation Virginia > Historic Properties > Bacon’s Castle. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://www.apva.org/BaconsCastle/Garden.php 

"Genealogy: The Cocke Family of Virginia (Henrico)." 1897. The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 5, No. 1 (July 1897): 71-89

  • Available @ http://www.jstor.org/stable/4242018

“Introduction.” Preservation Virginia > Historic Properties > Bacon’s Castle. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Availabl @ http://www.apva.org/BaconsCastle/ 

Kimball, Fiske. 1922. Domestic Architecture of the American Colonies and of the Early Republic. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.

Available via Internet Archive @ https://archive.org/details/domesticarchitec00kimb

mclark66_1. “Arthur Allen.” Ancestry.com > Ancestry Family Trees > Wilson Family Tree. Provo, UT, U.S.A.: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://trees.ancestrylibrary.com/tree/12610673/person/27340867303/facts/sources#smLblTrees

“090-0001 Bacon’s Castle 1966 Final Nomination.” Virginia Department of Historic Resources > Historic Registers > Surry County (Tidewater Region). Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://www.dhr.virginia.gov/registers/Counties/Surry/090-0001_Bacon%27s_Castle_1966_Final_Nomination.pdf 

Roberts, Bruce. 1990. Plantation Homes of the James River. Chapel Hill NC: University of North Carolina Press.

Southworth, Gertrude Van Duyn. 1911. Builders of Our Country. Volume I. New York NY; Boston MA; Chicago IL: D. Appleton and Sons.

  • Available via Internet Archive @ https://archive.org/details/buildersourcoun00soutgoog

Sullivan, Mary Ann. “Bacon’s Castle.” Bluffton.edu > Virginia > Surry County. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://www.bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/virginia/surry/bacon%27s.html 

Watson, Denise M. 12 April 2015. “Bacon’s Castle at 350 (Doesn’t Look a Day over 200).” HamptonRoads.com > Life. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ http://hamptonroads.com/2015/04/bacons-castle-350-doesnt-look-day-over-200 

Wilson, Richard Guy. (Ed.). 2002. Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont. New York, NY, U.S.A.: Oxford University Press, Inc. Society of Architectural Historians Buildings of the United States 

 

Bacon's Castle, northwest side: famous trio of chimneys via 1940 Historic American Buildings Survey photograph

1940 Public Works Administration Program: Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS)
1940 Public Works Administration Program: Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS)
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Plantation Homes of the James River by Bruce Roberts ~ Available now via Amazon

Bruce Roberts takes us on a photographic tour of fourteen of the famous colonial Virginia plantation houses nestled along the shores of the Lower James River: carefully restored, often with the original furnishings.
Bacon's Castle

Bacon's Castle Surrey County Virginia (Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities Research Bulletin No. 3) by Stephenson B. Andrews (Editor), Stephen A. Smith (Illustrator) ~ Available now via Amazon

Bacon's Castle

Nathaniel Bacon Confronting Governor Berkeley in Jamestown, 1676: Available as Giclée Print + as Premium Giclée Print ~ Available now via AllPosters

illustration of "Bacon confronting the Governor in the Square" from Gertrude Van Duyn Southworth's Builders of Our Country, Vol. I (1911), p. 205
Nathaniel Bacon Confronting Governor Berkeley in Jamestown, 1676

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 08/21/2015, DerdriuMarriner
 
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DerdriuMarriner on 09/26/2016

Veronica, Virginia always has been strong on cultural and historic preservation. Perhaps it gets fueled by the Roanoke colonists of what was then Virginia but now is North Carolina getting lost, and Virginians not wanting a similar loss for subsequent generations. Whatever the reason, I'm happy for the consequences: I and others get to see what went before.

Veronica on 09/26/2016

This part of USA seems to have more " history" than other areas.... Very interesting.

DerdriuMarriner on 09/26/2016

Veronica, Thank you for visiting the Arthur Allen House aka Bacon's Castle! The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities is truly impressive in the membership's devotion to accumulating as many images and as much information as possible to ensure accurate, authentic maintenance of historic sites and legacy properties. Bacon's Caste and Rosewell are among my absolute favorites so I appreciate the public access to floor plans and to the grounds.

Veronica on 09/26/2016

The inclusion of floor plans and elevations is a great idea.

DerdriuMarriner on 08/28/2015

CruiseReady, Perhaps they will both work out for you! Barbados and Virginia are each worth the trip, for beautiful things to do and see.

DerdriuMarriner on 08/25/2015

Mira, Your description epitomizes the continuing appeal and strong memories associated with Bacon's Castle!

CruiseReady on 08/25/2015

I would love to see this architectural treasure! Maybe one day, though it is equally likely I will make it to Barbados first.

Mira on 08/22/2015

It's interesting how the buildings and the grounds were designed as a whole. There's the castle smack at the center and trees and then buildings placed symmetrically on the sides of the alley. Then the trees around the castle. Not all of them too close, but still close enough for shade, and then the others there for the view. I love it.

DerdriuMarriner on 08/22/2015

Mira, Yes! The gardens and the house are stunning. There was another Jacobean architecture-styled house in the United States, the Custis House in Williamsburg, but it no longer exists. So it's down to three very early examples: the Arthur Allen House in Virginia and Drax Hall and St. Nicholas Abbey in Barbados.

Mira on 08/22/2015

Have you visited Bacon's Castle? According to what you wrote, the gardens must be impressive. The architecture of the house is also interesting.

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