Brides get swept away at Belle Grove Plantation!

Jul. 27th 2013

We would like to congratulate Brittney and Eric!

We wish you all the joy in the world in your new lives together!

Thank you for making us a part of your special time together!

DSC_0058 small

Brides really do get swept away at our Southern Plantation!

See what we are up to at Belle Grove Plantation!

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Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Belle Grove History, Darnell History | 10 Comments »

Another First

Jul. 23rd 2013


On Saturday, Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast saw another first!

Our First Wedding!

We would like to introduce


Mr. and Mrs. Travis Cousins!

Surrounded by a handful of family and friends


Travis and Stephanie

exchanged their vows on our balcony overlooking the river 

on Saturday, July 20, 2013

We would like to wish them a wonderful new life together! 

Thank you for coming to Belle Grove Plantation and allowing us to share your special day!



















Officiant was Tamara Riley of

No Ordinary Ordained

No Ordinary Ordained

Photography was by

Mary Chamberlin of


Chamberlin Photography

To see more “first”

Visit our Facebook Fan Page

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Thank you!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Belle Grove History, Darnell History | 22 Comments »

See Belle Grove Plantation in the New Issue of Brides and Weddings of Northern Virginia!

Jul. 6th 2013

B&W July 2013

We are so excited to announce that

Belle Grove Plantation

has a wonderful piece in the new issue of

Brides and Weddings of Northern Virginia Magazine!

This magazine is the ultimate guide for Wedding Planning for the Northern Virginia Bride!

This publication is designed to give brides helpful planning tools and up to date information on the Northern Virginia Wedding scene. The Publisher and Editor, Cindie Reinhold found her inspiration after seeing a need in the marketplace for a quality-oriented planning guide to help bride locate wedding resources. Using the knowledge and expertise of countless industry professional, Brides and Weddings offer editorial content that help brides create their dream weddings while saving time, stress and money.

You can view a digital copy of this new issue by going to:

Find Belle Grove Plantation’s article and let us know what you think!


Keep up with that is going on at Belle Grove Plantation

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Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | 14 Comments »

Bridal Show

Jun. 2nd 2013

Today was our first adventure into Bridal Shows!

Our first Bridal Show Vendor Booth

Our first Bridal Show Vendor Booth




We attended the Virginia Wedding Network Bridal Show in Fredericksburg. It was so much fun and we had a chance to meet allot of brides and vendors! Here are some great pictures from the show!

Thank you to Didi Russell, her team and Virginia Wedding Network for providing a great show today!


We want to thank my sister, Shay for helping us with items for the table.

It wouldn’t have looked as good as it did without your items!

And we want to thank Brigitte with Chikpea Florist for allowing us to use two of her bridal bouquets for the table! 


One of the first vendors we met was NannyTainment. Here’s a thought. How many times have you gone to a family wedding and had children running ever where? This is a great service. They come to your event and watc h the children so you can enjoy the event!



This is Lillie with Wild Lillie Events. She was our neighbor at the show. What an awesome person and great event planner!

We were excited to see Cindie Reinhold, editor and publisher of Brides and Weddings of Northern Virginia.




I had to watch Brett at this show! This is Casnio2U. They provide Casino games for wedding receptions and other events. Brett and I are talking about having a Casino Night at Belle Grove! Anyone interested in having some fun?


Brett got a lesson on how to play Black Jack





He didn’t win at Black Jack but did pretty good at the Roulette Table. The neat thing about this service is you don’t play with your own money. When you come in, they provide you with 50 thousand in chips to play with!


This is La Mollioa Catering. They were also our neighbors. It was so hard not to go over and eat through the whole show!

It smelled and looked so good!



This is Teresa with Couture Jewelry.

She has some of the most wonderful pieces! Once we get our online store open, you must go and check her pieces out!



This is Michelle with Occasions by M&K .

She is THE Wedding Planner! You can’t go wrong with her planning your wedding!



I just met these fine ladies. We are hoping to see them at the plantation for our Vendor Fair.


This is Lou with Lou’s Blue Martini. He and I share a common background. We both served in the Marine Corps. He is going to work on a new martini just for Belle Grove based on our story about Carolinus Turner and the mint juleps at 5pm. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with!


This is Simply Modern Bridal.

They have some amazing dresses!





This is catering company that will be coming to our Vendor Fair on June 30th. We had a chance to try some of their food and I have to say it was awesome! We had a tartlet filled with roasted red pepper and feta cheese that was just heavenly!



Balloonapalooza and The Popcorn Bag

Delicious Gourmet Popcorn and Balloons for all occasions!



Who needs flowers at a wedding? Why not have an Edible Candy Arrangement!

Do you know that allot of weddings are starting to put up “Candy Bars”? You place our jars of different candies and provide a bag for your guest to take some home. What a great idea for party favors!



Ballroom Dancing anyone?

We are talking with Strictly Ballroom Dance Studio about providing some classes at Belle Grove Plantation!


We loved this!

Mike with Applied Science Fitness Studio brought his motorcycle with a great message!


Calling all Chocolate Lovers!

This is the BEST Chocolate you have ever tasted!

Chocolates filled with liquors! They are out of this world! We can’t wait to get them to the plantation!



We were also treated to one of the most beautiful bridal fashion show!


If you are s bride or know of a bride to be check out this brand new web search engine for wedding vendors!


(and its not missing the “m” at the end)

The show was provided by Ava Laurenne Bride.

We met with them and are hoping that we can get them to our first Bridal Show at Belle Grove!





To see more picture of the Bridal Show

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Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | 17 Comments »

Vendor Fair at Belle Grove Plantation

May. 25th 2013

We would like to announce that we will be conducting our first

Wedding Vendor Fair at Belle Grove Plantation!

Vendor Fair June 2013

This fair is for all Wedding Professionals that would like to work with Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast on future Social and Corporate Events at Belle Grove Plantation.

We would like to invite you to come if you are a


Wedding Planner /Coordinator



Photographer / Videographer

Entertainers / Musician / Singer

Limousine Service

Bridal Wear / Formal Wear

Rental Service

Make-Up Artist / Hairdresser

Jennifer Lay Bowden 09-12 8

 The fair will be Sunday, June 30, 2013 from noon to 4pm at

Belle Grove Plantation

For more information or to register, please email us at

Space will be limited so please register early.

We look forward to seeing you at the plantation!

Jennifer Lay Bowden 09-12 12

To see more about Belle Grove Plantation

Facebook Link

Please visit our Facebook Fan Page!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | 9 Comments »

Field of Dreams

Jan. 13th 2013
Hurley on the way to the Plantation

Hurley on the way to the Plantation

Saturday was just amazing! I know you must have heard this phrase”

“If you build it, they will come”

Field of Dreams

Well, we found out how true that phrase really is this weekend!

When we drove to the plantation on Saturday, we were amazed by the amount of fog we encountered. It just seems to go on and on forever. Just as we got to the plantation, we were still amazed the fog wasn’t lifting. This made me sad because that meant we wouldn’t get to see the eagles. Brett did catch sight of two later in the afternoon, flying just above the river, but it was just too hard to see them.

View from the Riverside Portico. You can't even see the river!

View from the Riverside Portico.
You can’t even see the river!

We had three appointments for Saturday. Our first was with our favorite archaeologists from Ferry Farm. It was their first time at the plantation and we couldn’t wait to show them around. The two archaeologists, Mara and Jason have been helping us date our artifacts for the last year. They brought along a group with them that wanted to see it as well.

Ferry Farm Group(l to r) Mara, Joe, Lu, Kyle, Jason and Nona

Ferry Farm Group
(l to r) Mara, Joe, Lu, Kyle, Jason and Nona

We first toured the Mansion. As we were almost finished, I looked up to see a truck coming up the drive. I knew we had another appointment, so I thought they are just a little early. So I had Brett take over with our friends from Ferry Farms and I stepped out on the front portico. The truck had stopped at the front gate, so I waved them in. When they pulled in, I realized that they were not our appointment. They were a couple from Gloucester, Virginia that had happened up on the plantation. They had come back to get a better look at the house. So I offered a tour of the Mansion while they were there.

As Brett finished up on the Mansion with the Ferry Farm group, I had just finished up with the couple on the first floor of the Mansion. So we changed groups and I headed out to the outbuildings with the Ferry Farm group and Brett finished showing the house to the couple from Gloucester.

I was so excited to have the archaeologist look at the outbuildings. I have only had them reviewed by photographs, so no one had really looked at them to give us an idea of their true age. Joe, Mara’s fiancé knows a lot about historic architecture, so I was hoping he could give us a better idea of the dates.

Inside the Summer Kitchen

Inside the Summer Kitchen

Inside the Summer Kitchen

Inside the Summer Kitchen

In the Slave Quarter side of the Summer Kitchen

In the Slave Quarter side of the Summer Kitchen

At the Smokehouse

At the Smokehouse

While looking at them, we did find two small artifacts. One bottle neck, that was dated sometime in the 20th century and a small shard that could have been a cup or saucer bottom. There wasn’t much to the shard so it was hard to give a true date to it.

An artifact is found!

An artifact is found!

As I was showing them the outbuildings, our second appointment arrived. This person is with a chapter of the Colonial Dames of America. She is looking to set up a meeting and luncheon for her group in 2014. They came over and joined the group from Ferry Farms as we finished up with the outbuildings.

The rough estimate we got on the outbuildings is as follows:

Summer Kitchen

Summer Kitchen

The Summer Kitchen / Slave Quarter are really just that. We had a rough date from photographs as it being sometime around 1790. Joe feels that it could be mid to late 1800s. He noted that it is unusual for there to be a wood structure that has been bricked in. So we may have had a brick structure that they covered later with wood. We need to have someone look closer into that.

The Smokehouse

The Smokehouse

The Smokehouse is not 1790s as we thought. It was build last and could date around the mid to late 1800s. We do know that the roof has been replaced since its last use because there is no smoke stains on the ceiling, just the walls and roof framing.

Ice House

Ice House

The Icehouse may be 1790s or even earlier. Joe feels that it was not like the others in construction and could date earlier than the other two. Of course we don’t have the ice pit open. It was filled in long ago. Once we get a chance, we will see about digging out the pit and see what we can find.

After we finished up with the outbuildings, we said our good-byes to our Ferry Farm friends. I then took our appointment into the house for a tour. As we got half way done with our tour, the first couple from Gloucester finished and left. I finished showing the Mansion to our appointment and discussing our ideas for their meeting and luncheon.

As I finished with their appointment, I saw another car pull in. Again I thought it was our third appointment and that they were just a little early. As I walked our second appointment to the front door, Brett came in with an young couple. He informed me that they weren’t our third appointment. They were a couple from the area that had taken a chance to stop by and see if we were going to do weddings at Belle Grove! So we invited them to come in as our second appointment left.

Before we got started with their tour, our third appointment arrived. Brett greeted them and brought them in. We gave a tour to the final group and talked about our vision for the Mansion and plantation. As we finished up, the unexpected couple gave us their information and thanked us for the tour. We were able to sit down with our last appointment and answer some of their questions about a Bridal shoot at the plantation.


Yes, if you build it, they will come. Whew…

The whole time we were giving the tours and talking with the groups, Hurley made himself at home. He was ready to greet the Ferry Farm group at the door with they first arrived. And he followed everyone through the house, making sure that everyone felt loved and welcomed. As our last appointment got ready to leave, Hurley had to be the last one to say good-bye. As they walked to their car, he quickly ran over to say good-bye again.

Of course, we didn’t get to one brick pulled on Saturday. No sun and the air were really cool. The fog never lifted and we even drove home in fog at 5pm. But it didn’t stop us from have a wonderful time with our guest, expected and unexpected. Brett and I also showed that as a team we could really work well together! I don’t know what I would have done without him!

After we got home Hurley passed out

After we got home Hurley passed out

After we arrived home, it didn’t take Hurley long to pass out. I think he really got a workout at the plantation. Running all over the grounds, walking up and down stairs and making sure everyone was okay. Of course we did have a few times that he acted kind of “funny”. While Brett was showing the two Junior Suites, he heard Hurley whimper. Brett stepped out of the doorway of one of the Junior Suites to see Hurley standing at the threshold between the Parlor and Library. You have to go through the Parlor and Library to get to the Junior Suites. Brett called for Hurley to come to him, but Hurly just stood there and wouldn’t come into the library. Hurley also had an issue in the Madison Room. He wouldn’t go into the bathroom from the bedroom and just stood at the doorway. Funny thing is that later he walked right in to both rooms when we returned with other groups. Humm…

Hurley, the door greeter

Hurley, the door greeter

Hurley running the plantation

Hurley running the plantation

Hurley checking on the fog before we left to go home

Hurley checking on the fog before we left to go home

Hurley getting the last "good-bye" with our final appointment

Hurley getting the last “good-bye” with our final appointment

It was a great day at the Plantation!Brett and Hurley

It was a great day at the Plantation!
Brett and Hurley

Now we are preparing for the coming week. I get to travel Monday to Wednesday night for my current job. The best part is that I am going to Washington DC / Maryland. I will “have” to travel up past the plantation and back by it as I come home. It’s going to be hard to see it yet again this week. Sigh…

To see more photos of Belle Grove

Please visit our Facebook Page!

Facebook Link

Don’t forget to enter our 

“Official Cookie Contest!

Deadline is January 31st!

Cookie Contest 2013

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History, Hurley | 35 Comments »

Heading Back

Jan. 11th 2013


It’s the weekend and we are so excited!

The term “TGIF” has a whole new meaning to us these days.

View of Belle Grove from the opposite bank in Port Royal

View of Belle Grove from the opposite bank in Port Royal

Yes, tomorrow we are heading back to the plantation for a full day of fun.

But we won’t be taking this trip alone!

We will be taking our favorite staff member…



We have two or three meeting set up for tomorrow.

Ferry Farm

Ferry Farm

Our first is with our favorite archaeologists from Ferry Farm. They are coming to see the plantation for the first time! We are so excited to have them there! Who knows what we are going to find out with expert eyes viewing the plantation for the first time!

First Bridal Shoot at Belle Grove Plantation

First Bridal Shoot at Belle Grove Plantation

Afterwards we are meeting with a bride-to-be to discuss having her photo shoot at the plantation. We expect to have many photo shoots and weddings in our future! We can’t wait!

We may also have a group of ladies stopping by to see the plantation and to discuss a future meeting and luncheon with Belle Grove Plantation. I am so excited to have this group come to see us. We are much honored to have them. I will reveal the name once I talk with them to make sure it’s okay to let you know too.

Sidewalk on the Carriage side

Sidewalk on the Carriage side

All while this is going on we are going to start pulling up the bricks that are laid out as the sidewalks on the Carriage side and pathways on the Riverside. There are tons of them! But we have to get them up before they can do the grading on the grounds. We are going to “repurpose” them as part of the new sidewalks and arrival area on the Carriage side.

Front Gate Entry

Front Gate Entry

If we have any left, we are going use them to upgrade the front entry gate. They are about four feet tall and have been painted white. They use to have a topper that would have been most likely a ball and the wrought iron gate has been removed. The wrought iron more than likely went during the Civil War.

Idea for the new Front Gate Entry

Idea for the new Front Gate Entry

But I have an idea of what I would like it to look like now. I want to replace the ball toppers with a finial topper like the one in the picture. It matches the ones I have used in my design for the road sign at the entry.

Best of all I have my father’s really nice camera to take tomorrow. Maybe we can finally get a good shot of the eagles that are flying over all the time. I think I could sit all day and watch them!

Follow us on Twitter tomorrow!



I will be sending our “Sneak Peak” Pictures and Updates!

Don’t forget to send your Cookie Recipes in soon!

Cookie Contest 2013

The Deadline will be here before you know it!

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Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History, Hurley | 37 Comments »

Back to Belle Grove

Nov. 24th 2012

Riverside Portico
Belle Grove Plantation

Today I returned to the plantation since all this started with my mother. It was so good to be back. It is such a peaceful place and really helped me clear my head and get more focus. And the reason I return was for such a wonder reason. I met with two brides-to-be in 2013. One is getting married in April and one in June. They were there to visit the plantation and to get an idea if they wanted to have some or all of their weddings and receptions with us in 2013. Both were wonderful couples. We would be so honored to help them start their new lives together at Belle Grove Plantation.

Could there be a wedding in our future at Belle Grove Plantation in 2013?

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 51 Comments »

Here Comes the Bride

Oct. 25th 2012

Jennifer Bowden
Patti Monk
Living Story Photography

Back in September we received a request from a bride who was looking to do her bridal pictures at Belle Grove Plantation. When we received the request, my first thoughts was “Oh no. I don’t even have the landscape started or furniture in the house.” But upon reading further into the request we realized that is was no ordinary request. The bride’s family has a connection to Belle Grove that goes back to the 1850s.

When Carolinus Turner owned Belle Grove Plantation, he would have had both slaves and field hands to help him work the 700 acres. One of those field hands was a man named Samuel Andrew McGinniss. Samuel was the oldest son of Frederick and Mary Ann McGinniss. He was born on February 22, 1844 and had 12 brothers and sisters. When Samuel worked for Carolinus, he would have been in his teen years. Samuel even had a younger brother, Carolinus Edgar McGinniss who was born in 1860. Could this brother have been named after Carolinus Turner?

Samuel would enlist as a Private in Company E of the 55th Infantry Regiment of Virginia in Westmoreland County on March 7, 1862. He was 18 years old. He was promoted to Full Sergeant in September 1864. The “Westmoreland Greys” originally known as the “Westmoreland Blues” mustered at Tappahannock on July 24, 1861 with 85 officers and men under the command of Captain J. Bailey Jett. Samuel left the service on May 1, 1865.

Samuel and Mary McGinniss

Samuel married Mary Elizabeth Grigsby, daughter of James Samuel Grigsby and Elizabeth Rollins Grigsby on June 30, 1881. He was 37 years old and she was 32 years old. Samuel and Mary had two known children, Richard Irving McGinniss, 1885 and Andrew Hampton McGinniss, 1889.

Samuel McGinniss Tombstone

Samuel passed away on May 12, 1912 at the age of 68. Mary would pass away 15 years later in 1927. Their youngest son, Andrew passed away in 1980 at the age of 91 years.

Now if you have been following along for awhile with our blog, you may remember us talking about an antique stop called “McGinniss Barn”. This is one of the relatives of Samuel McGinniss too! What a small world it is here!

Well, after learning that Belle Grove Plantation and the family of the bride-to-be had a connection, how could we say no? Shortly after their request, we invited her and her fiancé to the plantation to view the grounds to see if they wanted to do the shoot there. When they arrived, we also met her grandmother. It was so wonderful to walk them around the house and grounds. Grandma just had a ball seeing the place. Then a week later she, her mother and father spent the day with the photographer shooting her bridal pictures.

On Saturday, October 20, 2012, Jennifer and Nick exchanged wedding vows. Today we had a chance to see the photographs from that bridal shoot. This is the first bridal shoot for Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast. What a wonderful story to go along with the first shoot! We would like to wish the happy couple a wonderful and blessed life together! Jennifer and Nick have also told us that Belle Grove Plantation will be their yearly anniversary get away! We couldn’t ask for anything more perfect!

Jennifer Bowden
Patti Monk
Living Story Photography

Jennifer Bowden
Patti Monk
Living Story Photography

Jennifer Bowden
Patti Monk
Living Story Photography

Jennifer Bowden
Patti Monk
Living Story Photography

Jennifer Bowden
Patti Monk
Living Story Photography

Jennifer Bowden
Patti Monk
Living Story Photography

Jennifer Bowden
Patti Monk
Living Story Photography

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 37 Comments »