Update on the Paranormal Ghost Hunts

Nov. 3rd 2013

Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast talking about the Paranormal Workshop and Ghost Hunt for Halloween!

We just finished our last Paranormal Ghost Hunt on Halloween and all we can say is “Wow”!

We had three nights of Paranormal Investigations as well as a Saturday filled with learning more about how to investigate correctly with our Paranormal Workshop and Medium Session.

Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast talking about the Paranormal Workshop and Ghost Hunt for Halloween!

We would like to thank our Paranormal Investigators from Southeast Virginia Paranormal Investigation ( http://virginia-paranormal.com/)for hosting the Workshop and Ghost Hunts this year for Belle Grove Plantation. They provided an exciting evening of safe investigating and showing our guests how to capture some great results.

Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast talking about the Paranormal Workshop and Ghost Hunt for Halloween! Meet Laine Crosby

We would like to thank Laine Crosby, Paranormal Investigator Medium (http://www.lainecrosby.com/). She helped our guests to understand how a Paranormal Medium works and how to get better in tune with their own abilities. We would like to congratulate Laine on her book, Investigative Medium, The Awakening,  being number one on Amazon’s Best Seller for the supernatural.

The guests that attended Laine’s session were very excited to spend time with her. In fact the session was going so well, we had to step in to remind them of the time. Almost ever person who came told me that they enjoyed her and looked forward to her returning soon!

(special note – Laine will be returning in January! Watch for updates on this event!)

During the Ghost Hunts, if you follow us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, you got a small taste of what was going on at the plantation.

Paranormal Ghost Hunt and Investigations at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George Port Conway Virginia

Friday Night’s Victims…

Paranormal Ghost Hunt and Investigations at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George Port Conway Virginia

Saturday Night’s Victims…

Paranormal Ghost Hunt and Investigations at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George Port Conway Virginia

Thursday Night’s Victims…

When our guests would arrive, we would give them a brief tour of the mansion and grounds so they were familiar with their surroundings. Then one of the Paranormal Investigators briefed the group on how the investigation would go and what to expect. It was so much fun to watch our guests’s faces as they would show past results from the plantation. They would then split into small groups and head out to their places.

Each “session” would last for 45 minutes to one hour, depending on the results the groups were getting. While they were out, Brett and I would stay back and watch the four camera feeds. These cameras were infrared cameras that allowed us to see in the dark as our guests and the investigators moved through the mansion.

At the end of each session, the groups and investigators would return to the “base camp” to discuss results and to load up on coffee. The investigations were from 8pm to 4am! They investigated most of the mansion as well as the grounds and our Summer Kitchen. They even walked over to the cemetery for a brief stop to see if there were any results from there.

Of all the nights, I have to say Saturday seemed to be the most active. Friday and Thursday had results, but Saturday had the most drama. On Saturday, there were two different sessions, one in the Turner Suite and one in the Summer Kitchen that made one stop and wonder. During these two sessions, the lead investigator, Todd, used both flashlights and a “spirit box”.

To use the flashlight, they would place a flashlight (turned off) on the floor. They would then let the spirits know that they can communicate with them by turning the flashlights on and off for yes or no. They also used what is called a “spirit box”. This is a tool used by Paranormal Investigators. It is a device used for contacting spirits through the use of radio frequency. The idea is that the spirits use the “white noise” to speak through.

On Saturday, in the Summer Kitchen, using the spirit box, Todd asked questions and was getting responses! He found that he was talking to someone named “Robert”. “Robert” stated that he was a visitor to the plantation during the Conway period. He also stated that he had died from being hung. He stated that he was hung by someone named “Edward”. From what I know of the plantation and its history, I do not have any confirmation that anyone was hung here. But of course, things happened that were never reported or recorded.

Paranormal Ghost Hunt and Investigations at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George Port Conway Virginia

In the Turner Suite

In the Turner Suite, they made contact with a man and woman through the “spirit box”. The woman didn’t speak much, but the man did. When Todd ask if the man could see him, the answer was “Yes”. Todd asked if the man could see him all the time and the answer was “No”. Todd asked him what he (Todd) had on his head and the man answered “hat”. Todd started waving his hand. He asked the man what he (Todd) was doing. The man answered “waving”. Todd grabbed his vest that he was wearing and pulled on it. Todd asked the man what he was pulling. The man answered “vest”. When Todd asked the man his name or time period, the man would not answer.

The last big drama was in the basement. While down there for a session, Todd and his group used a flashlight. The flashlight was a twist kind, not a slide or push button. While down there, they made connect with someone or possible several. While they were talking to these spirits, one of the other investigators who was filming felt a light push to her back, when she turned around, she saw a full body dark figure standing behind her. Needless to say, she screamed as did all the other guests in the group. Whatever it was, didn’t seem to want to hurt anyone, but just wanted to be seen.

When they left the basement, they left two flashlights in view of the camera. I sat there and watched as the flashlights continued to turn on and off for over an hour. And I know there was no one down in the basement.

I am sure there are other results that have yet to be discovered as they work through three nights of investigations. If anything else comes up of interest, we will send out an update.

Paranormal Ghost Hunt and Investigations at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George Port Conway Virginia

As far as the question, “Is Belle Grove Plantation Haunted?”…

Well this one is hard to say. Of course I have see the evidence, I have heard the personal experiences and even had a few of my own. From what I have seen and heard, to the best of my knowledge, I would have to say yes, the plantation is haunted. But I have been here since April 1. 2013. I live right here inside the mansion every day and night. We have had guests since August 1, 2013. From what I have seen and heard, there is nothing here that is evil or malevolent. This plantation and mansion is just as calm and peaceful day or night. I like to think that what we have here is just people from Belle Grove Plantation’s past. People that loved this plantation so much that they chose not to leave. I like to think that they watch over the plantation and in turn watch over us. And with the plantation being 342 years old and the mansion being 221 years old, if we didn’t have a few ghosts or spirits, I would be concerned.

In speaking with Laine about it, as a medium, she told me that they (the spirits) are aware of who we are and what we are doing. She told me that they are happy with what we are doing too. That by backing back the history to the plantation, remembering them and bring life back, they couldn’t be more happy with us.

Paranormal Ghost Hunt and Investigations at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George Port Conway Virginia

Am I fear to live here? . . .

Absolutely not. If I couldn’t, I would miss it more than you would ever know.

Paranormal Ghost Hunt and Investigations at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George Port Conway Virginia

Have any of our guests heard or seen anything?. . .

Yes a couple have, but only those who went looking for it. Most don’t know and don’t hear anything. I think the “spirits” are at peace most of the time and they don’t want to bother anyone.

This plantation is a peaceful place. It is warm and relaxing. That is why I think some have chosen not to leave.

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Belle Grove History | 6 Comments »

The Details Matter

Oct. 26th 2013

On Friday, we took deliver of two canopies for the Hipkins-Bernard and Conway Junior Suite as well as the valances for the Turner Master Suite. We are almost done with all the curtains for the bedrooms! We just need to wait for the finally curtains for the Turner Master Suite as well as the half canopy. Then we just have to get the curtains for the Parlor, Formal Dining Room, Small Dining Room, Library, Common Room and the Foyer Room. But the ones we have gotten is a huge step towards finishing!

Not only does it help us cover the windows, but with them in place, we can better able to see what kind of decor we want or need for the room. Knowing that, we can find those pieces and complete the room. The Madison Master Suite, which got its curtains and canopy first is almost done. We just need to find a few portraits of James and Dolley Madison as well as some smaller decor and we can call it done!

Enjoy the pictures of the new arrivals!

Here is the “Before” of the Hipkins-Bernard Junior Suite

Decorating Our Suites at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George, Virginia, Birthplace of James Madison

Here it is now!

Decorating Our Suites at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George, Virginia, Birthplace of James Madison

Decorating Our Suites at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George, Virginia, Birthplace of James Madison

Here is the “Before” of the Conway Junior Suite

Decorating Our Suites at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George, Virginia, Birthplace of James Madison

Here it is now!

Decorating Our Suites at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George, Virginia, Birthplace of James Madison

Decorating Our Suites at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George, Virginia, Birthplace of James Madison

Decorating Our Suites at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George, Virginia, Birthplace of James Madison

Here are the Valances for the Turner Master Suite

Decorating Our Suites at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George, Virginia, Birthplace of James Madison

(This is the window with Carrie Turner’s etching in it)

Decorating Our Suites at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George, Virginia, Birthplace of James Madison

Decorating Our Suites at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George, Virginia, Birthplace of James Madison

This is the Turner Master Suite Bathroom Valance

Decorating Our Suites at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George, Virginia, Birthplace of James Madison

Who says the details don’t matter??

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Belle Grove History, Darnell History | 2 Comments »

Ghost Story Anyone?

Oct. 25th 2013

As we prepare for our busy weekend of ghost hunting, we thought it would be fun to share some of the spooky happenings in and round Belle Grove Plantation. Just to get you in the mood for some chilling and thrilling fun we have in store for you tonight!

Make sure you watch your Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for updates through the day and night as we share in all the fun!

Haunted Lambs Creek Church in King George Virginia is haunted and story told by Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast for their Paranormal Workshop and Ghost Hunt Weekend

Lamb’s Creek Church – King George, Virginia

This story is taken from “Virginia Ghosts” by Jenny Lee, Marguerite du Pont Lee

In King George County on the King’s Highway about thirteen miles from Fredericksburg, on the Rappahannock River side, an interesting Colonial building may be found called Lamb’s Creek Church. Erected in 1769 it is now six miles from a lone gravestone on Muddy Creek marking the site of the Mother Church in use as early as 1710.

In Brunswick parish extending up to Stafford County, in days almost forgotten, far beyond the tide of the years in which we live, Sunday mornings the coaches of the aristocracy rolled from far distant points and over rough roads to the door of Lamb’s Creek Church.

In the company of family and friends and surrounded by retainers a large congregation listed to the delights of paradise glowingly painted, and hell pictured as very real and very hot! The lessons were read from the priceless old ‘Vinegar Bible’, so called owing to a typographical error in the edition, the heading of the Parable of the Vineyard made to read ‘Parable of the Vinegar.’ This Bible was given to Muddy Creek Church about 1716. Stolen after the Civil War, by great good fortune it has been recovered and is in use one each year when a service is held in the church. The old prayer book, also inherited from the Mother Church was printed in 1739 when George II was King.

The devastating War of the Revolution scatted the faithful an altered the lives and fortunes of the people. For fifty years the church doors were closed.

Not until the Civil War did man’s hand shatter and desecrate this relic of a civilization of which the despoiler did not even dream, and could not possibly appreciate. The woodwork was pulled out, the windows and doors broken, and the church used for a stable.

In a bend of the road this large country church may be seen from quite a distance. A vital need in the lives of a generation long passed away, it stands in an isolated spot abandoned and by the world forgot-a mute witness to the  transitoriness of all human religious expression.

Just prior to the desecration of this house of worship by Federal soldiers two Confederate officers, one named Hunter, are said to have entered the church one night seeking refuge from a heavy thunder storm. The flashes of lightning were very vivid, and the thunder deafening. Running in they seated themselves at the door facing the chancel. Presently, for one brief moment the inky darkness was relieved by a great flash of lightning. The two men were dunfound to see kneeling at the chancel rail as if in prayer a woman dressed in white! In pitchy darkness, silently and breathlessly they awaited the next flash. There still kneeled the woman! A third view of the figure was sufficient and both soldiers made a hasty exit into the teeth of the furious storm!

Mr. Thomas Lomax Hunter, a lawyer of King George County, very courteously makes rely to my letter of inqury as follows:

‘My father and uncle were the only Hunters in the Civil War from this county, but I have never heard the story you relate of them and Lamb’s Creek Church.

Lamb’s Creek Church has however been long looked upon by the natives here as haunted, and while I cannot recite any detailed story about it I have no doubt that reputable witnesses of its neighborhood could be put upon the witness stand to prove its ghostly character.’

(One note – Thomas Lomax Hunter was the son of Frederick Hunter and his wife Rose Turner Hunter. Rose was the daughter of Carolinus and Susan Turner, owners of Belle Grove Plantation from 1839 to 1894.)

There are a couple more stories about Lamb’s Creek Church.

It is said that two civil war soldiers can be seen resting on a rainy night. This usually happens on rainy nights and that the church’s windows glow from the inside around the 27th of October. There is also a ghost of a young girl who died of pneumonia. You can see a strange blue light and an apparition of the girl running and playing.

Haunted Marimon in King George Virginia is haunted and story told by Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast for their Paranormal Workshop and Ghost Hunt Weekend

Marmion – King George County, Virginia

This  story is taken from “Virginia Ghosts” by Jenny Lee, Marguerite du Pont Lee

“Marmion, in King George County, Virginia, has been in the family of Mrs. Lucy Lewis Grymes for more than 150 years. Lord Marmion was the last of the title in England, and in his honor William Fitzhugh, emigrated to the Colonies in 1670, named this portion of his vast estate, erecting in 1674, between two splendid springs flowing in the primeval forest, the mansion still standing. One finds to the north the little house from the depths of which countless juleps were cooled; not far distant the old kitchen to which, from smokehouse and dairy, still standing, bacon, butter and cream flowed in a constant stream throughout the generations.

Behind the house the lovely old office stands in a garden, carpeted in spring with single blue hyacinths and yellow primroses, hardly descendants of flowers brought from England long ago. In the attic of this office quite recently Mrs. Grymes found a roll of Colonial money, signed by her husband’s ancestor, Robert Carter Nicholas.

In 1719 John Fitzhugh took unto himself a wife, and Marmion was their home. A grove of pecans, walnuts and maples stand close to this sturdy and picturesque relic of a bygone age; its two secret rooms, one built in the huge chimney about the other, speaking to us of turbulence and of dangers unknown to our generation.

Marmion in 1785 became the property of Major George Lewis, son of Col. Fielding Lewis and Betty Washington. Their great granddaughter, Mrs. Lucy Lewis Grymes, is the fortunate owner today. A mile and a half beyond flows the Potomac River, and in 1782 Philip Fitzhugh, the last of his name at Marmion, is said to have brought to his home, one day, one of those accomplished artisans, contributing by their skill to some of the most beautiful decorations remaining with us from their day. This Hessian soldier was in a dying condition when found by Philip Fitzhugh on the banks of the river. Recovering his health in course of time, the stranger was then desirous of contributing evidence of his skill in return for the kindness shown him. He decorated the walls of the parlor in lovely landscapes and cornucopias filled with flowers, making from Virginia clay and plants the paints he used – clear and beautiful after the passing of 150 years! Owing to Mrs. Gymes’ willingness to share with countless others her treasures, the superb paneling, decorations and mirror in this beautiful parlor at Marmion were transferred into the keeping of the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

In the long age when dangers threatened, before cannon balls from two wars were left embedded as relics in the brick walks leading from the mansion, a chest of valuables was buried. Whether discovered and carried off nobody knows. But Marmion possesses a charming ghost; thieves cannot break in and steal.

Some of the old darkies whose forefathers lived in the ‘Quarters’ on the plantation claim today to have seen the ‘white lady’ walking among the roses and honeysuckle in the little cemetery.

Mrs. Grymes writes: ‘Since my childhood, every now and then guests have spoken of a lovely young girl they have seen from time to time in the house. Twice, I myself, when in the guest-room, have felt there was someone in the room, but have never seen the ghost. During the summer of 1928 Miss Edmonia Goode, an elderly lady from Chase City, Virginia, was staying at Marmion with a group of young people whom she had been chaperoning at a house party in Fredericksburg. It was in the afternoon of a bright sunny day. Miss Goode was lying down on her bed resting, when the door opened an a very beautiful young girl came in and started to open the wardrobe. Miss Goode sat up and exclaimed: ‘Why, how do you do? I did not know there was another guest in this house beside our party.’ The girl turned and looked squarely at her. The face of the Spirit, Miss Goode would recognize anywhere. She arose advancing towards the visitor in order to shake hands….”

(This is where the story ended in the book… sorry)

Haunted Stratford Hall in King George Virginia is haunted and story told by Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast for their Paranormal Workshop and Ghost Hunt Weekend

Stratford Hall – Home of the Lee Family and Robert E. Lee

This story taken from HouseandHomeMagazine.com

The Spirits of Stratford Hall 

Paranormal experts, if there are such things, are in general agreement that Virginia is one of the most haunted states, perhaps the most haunted, in the nation. And for good reason. It is the oldest colony in America and there are more surviving old houses here than anywhere else. Plus, since the experts contend that tragic and traumatic deaths are a leading cause for the existence of ghosts, if there are such things as ghosts, then Virginia surely ranks at the top of the list since there has been more blood shed here over the past 400 years dating from Indian attacks on the early settlers on up through the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.

Accounts of lingering spirits blanket the entire map of the Old Dominion, from Winchester south to Bristol, and from Monterey east to Virginia Beach. The Northern Neck is not excluded from this questionable list and, arguably, one of the most haunted houses in this historic area is Stratford Hall. It was here, of course, that Robert E. Lee was born in 1807. The mansion itself dates to the late 1730s. Among its long-ago occupants are some of the most famous names in American history, including Richard Henry Lee, a leader of the Continental Congress, and Light Horse Harry Lee, a hero of the Revolutionary War, and Robert’s father.

As with so many antique estates, there is ample justification for ghostly encounters at Stratford Hall, for along with its majestic eloquence, family members through the centuries have had their share of tragic events. If a visitor to the house today asks a tour guide about ghosts, he or she is told they are not part of the narrative. The guides are trained to “protect” the historical integrity of the site. The key to finding a more positive answer to such a provocative question is to query others. Find a maid, janitor, or better yet, a night security guard, and they may well reveal some of Stratford Hall’s most guarded secrets.

That is precisely what the author did some years ago, and the results were quite surprising. Here are some examples. A domestic worker walked into the library one day to clean it, and then promptly retreated. Her supervisor asked what happened and she replied that she didn’t want to disturb the gentleman inside. What gentleman the supervisor replied. The worker said she saw a figure in old fashioned clothes checking over some papers. The two women then reentered the library. There was no one there. The worker became very frightened and fled the house.

Once, a well known psychic visited. When she passed through the great hall on the second floor, she stopped and said she felt “so many good impressions.” She claimed to see the room full of Lees and that there was dancing, music and entertainment. She added that the Lees were pleased with how the house was being taken care of.

A hostess said her encounter came on a dismal, dark winter afternoon. During a tour, she saw a woman and a child in a room in colonial period costume. She thought it was another hostess but when she later asked the hostess about it she was told she hadn’t even been upstairs. Then she lifted her hand and covered her mouth and said that the first hostess “had finally seen them.” Who? She has seen Ann Lee, the distraught and broken hearted wife of Black Horse Harry Lee, and their little daughter, Margaret, who had died in the house at age two in 1820 after falling down the stairs! Others, including tourists, have reported hearing a phantom woman calling for a child, the sound of a child running, and then both of them laughing, as if they were playing together.

Security guards, too, have experienced various forms of psychic manifestations. One said a lot of mysterious things happen here, especially strange noises at night. Like what? “Loud racket,” he emphasized. “The sounds of heavy furniture being moved around when no one is in the room. Other times we heard rustling sounds, like petticoats and skirts rubbing against chairs and tables, but you never see anything.” One officer said he heard fiddle and harp music on occasion.

Another guard said one night he was sitting in a chair when something unseen grabbed his sleeve and lifted his arm straight up. Also, he added, when he was alone one night reading a book, he got up to make his rounds and when he came back the book had flatly disappeared. One guard told of a new man on the job. “He quit after one hour and wouldn’t even talk about what happened to him.”

Two officers said that on multiple occasions they had seen the apparition of a small boy, about three or four years old, wearing dark purple britches and a light colored purple shirt with ruffled sleeves. Each time they approached the figure, he evaporated before their eyes. One said, “I believe he was a spirit. If he wasn’t, where did he go?” Could it have been the ghost of Robert E. Lee, who moved out of Stratford Hall when he was just three and a half? Another clue suggests that it might be the son of Philip Ludwell Lee, himself the son of Thomas Lee, the founder of the house. According to family tradition, this boy fell down the stairs in the mansion one day in 1779. He was four years old!

Possibly the most terrifying encounters were experienced by J.R. “Butch” Myers, a leather craftsman who lives in Richmond. He travels about demonstrating how 18th century shoes are made. In June 1989, he was at an exhibition at Stratford Hall. He spent the night in a dependency building near the main house. Getting ready for bed, he lit six candles in stands, then heard approaching footsteps outside and assumed it was the security guard making his rounds.

Myers recalled: “I took a couple of steps toward the door when a sudden down draft of freezing cold air hit me, taking my breath away. It was like walking into a cold storage locker. I got goose bumps all over. Just as this happened, there was a thunderous noise in the chimney. It sounded like the whole building was going to collapse. I didn’t find this out until later but the chimney was sealed top and bottom. There was no way anything alive could be in it.”

“If this wasn’t scary enough, and believe me it was,” Myers continued, “I turned around just in time to see the candles go out. They didn’t go out at once, as if blown out by a down shaft of air. They went out one at a time, in sequence, as if someone was snuffing them out!” At first Myers thought someone was playing a joke on him, but then he realized he was alone in the room. He told a security guard what happened, and the man didn’t seem surprised. He just said, “Oh, you’ve just met our friend.”

Myers returned to his room and relit the candles. He said, “Now you can believe this or not, I don’t care, but the icy coldness hit me again, and the racket kicked up in the chimney, which really scared me now, because the guard had told me about it being sealed. Then, someone or something very methodically extinguished each candle again, this time in reverse order!”
“There definitely was something there, a presence or whatever you want to call it. It was enough for me. I said, “Listen, you can have the room. Just let me get my pillow and blanket and I will get out of here.” And I got out of there as quick as I could and went over to another dependency, where the guard was, and I told him I was spending the night with him!”

Myers went back to Stratford Hall five years later for another craft show on the grounds. He refused to stay in the dependency where he had been before, but one evening he walked over to it. “It was a nice gentle breeze blowing,” he says, “but when I got in front of the building, everything was deathly still. Nothing was stirring. It was an eerie feeling. I put my hand on the doorknob and it was like clutching an icicle. That’s as far as I got. I wouldn’t go back into that room. There was something in there that didn’t want me inside.”

“The guards told me it wouldn’t hurt me, but they hadn’t felt what I had in that room. I’m not saying definitely that it was something evil, but I didn’t want to stick around and find out. It had made its point with me. I’m not psychic or anything, but I believe there is something to ghosts and spirits and there’s a lot we don’t understand about all that yet. But I can say for sure that I am certain there is something other worldly at Stratford Hall. There was something unexplained in that room, and one experience with whatever it was, or is, was enough for me!”

If you are interested in seeing Stratford Hall at Halloween, they are hosting a “Spook-tacular Halloween” as part of their annual Halloween program. It will have something for everyone this year. L.B. Taylor, author of over 13 books on the Virginia paranormal, will present a talk on the ghosts of the Northern Neck in the duPont Library. There will be ghost tours, refreshments, craft making, palm and Tarot card readings. You can check their event out on their website at http://www.stratfordhall.org/

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in General History | Comments Off on Ghost Story Anyone?

Ghost Stories

Oct. 24th 2013

The Time is Fast Approaching and there is a nervous tension in the air!

Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast and Southeast Virginia Paranormal Investigations host Paranormal Workshop and Ghost Hunts at Belle Grove Plantation!

Friday Night starts our Halloween Ghost Hunts at Belle Grove Plantation!

If you can’t be here, don’t worry, we will be sending out updates throughout the weekend on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!


We are going to give away one Ghost Hunt Ticket for Saturday, October 26th or Halloween, Thursday, October 31st!

We want to hear YOUR best Ghost Experiences!

Starting Now until 3pm, Friday, October 25th, write your best ghost experience story. Don’t forget to include where it happened it! (City and State or Country) The best story will win the free Ghost Hunting ticket! This is a $50 value!

Since our comment section isn’t working here on our new website blog, you can post your story on our old blog or Facebook page.



Either way make sure you get it in before the “dead” line!

No ghost writers please!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | 1 Comment »

Belle Grove Plantation Makes Press for Halloween!

Oct. 24th 2013

On Wednesday, the King George Journal released an article about Belle Grove Plantation!

How awesome is this!

King George Journal Newspaper release an article on Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast talking about the Paranormal Workshop and Ghost Hunt for Halloween!

by Richard Leggett

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Halloween Season brings ghost hunters to Belle Grove

King George Journal Newspaper release an article on Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast talking about the Paranormal Workshop and Ghost Hunt for Halloween!

Historic Belle Grove Plantation, the birthplace of President James Madison that is now King George’s most luxurious bed and breakfast, will host paranormal investigators and ghost hunters for the next week as it participates in Halloween activities.

“Is Belle Grove Plantation haunted? Since arriving on the property, we have had several personal experience as well as stories told to us about others experiences,” said Michelle Darnell, who operates the bed and breakfast and event venue with her husband, Brett.

“In the time we have lived at the plantation, we have to say that none of the experiences are evil or malicious in nature. We feel they are just those that came before us that loved this plantation and never wanted to leave,” Darnell said.

The Darnell’s are hosting a Paranormal Workshop and Ghost Hunts Oct. 25, 26 and 31. The workshop will be Saturday, Oct. 26 featuring investigative medium Laine Crosby from 10:30 am to noon.

King George Journal Newspaper release an article on Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast talking about the Paranormal Workshop and Ghost Hunt for Halloween! Meet Laine Crosby

From 1pm to 6pm a Paranormal Team called Southeast Virginia Paranormal Investigations will be at Belle Grove to teach would-be ghost hunters how to hunt for ghosts the right way.

On Oct. 25, 26 and 31, the SVPI team will host a Ghost Hunt at Belle Grove to see if the historic plantation is actually haunted. “We have had them here before and have gotten lots of results.” Darnell said. “And the funny thing is, ‘Are you haunted’ seems to be the second question we are asked on our tours.”

King George Journal Newspaper release an article on Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast talking about the Paranormal Workshop and Ghost Hunt for Halloween!

The SVPI ghost hunters hosting the Ghost Hunt at Belle Grove are from Newport News. “This paranormal team of investigators has years of experience and is working on a new television pilot, ‘Paranormal Apprentice’. Belle Grove Plantation will be their second episode.” Darnell said.

“If you have ever watched shows like ‘Ghost Hunters’ or ‘Ghost Adventures’ and wanted to be a part of a real paranormal investigation, then this is the event for you!,” Darnell declared.

King George Journal Newspaper release an article on Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast talking about the Paranormal Workshop and Ghost Hunt for Halloween!

King George Journal Newspaper release an article on Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast talking about the Paranormal Workshop and Ghost Hunt for Halloween!

King George Journal Newspaper release an article on Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast talking about the Paranormal Workshop and Ghost Hunt for Halloween!

SVPI will bring all their paranormal equipment and will be taking Belle Grove visitors and guests o nighttime paranormal investigations. The Ghost Hunters will be conducted from 8pm to 4am. Darnell said suites for overnight guests are still available, but urged visitors to call to book a suite or check availability.

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Belle Grove History, Darnell History | Comments Off on Belle Grove Plantation Makes Press for Halloween!

Paranormal Workshop and Overnight Ghost Hunting Scheduled

Aug. 23rd 2013

Paranormal Nights

Is Belle Grove Plantation Haunted?

This is the most popular question we get on our tours.

Now you have a chance to find out for yourself!

Come join us on Saturday, October 26th

as we host our first Paranormal Workshop


Friday, October 25th, Saturday, October 26th

and a special Halloween Night – Thursday, October 31st

for Overnight Ghost Huntings!

 SVPI Logo

Belle Grove Plantation welcomes

Southeast Virginia Paranormal Investigations from Newport News, Virginia


This team of investigators has performed paranormal research and investigations in some of the most alleged haunted locations in Virginia as well as handle private residence cases. SVPI uses the latest in advance paranormal investigation equipment and have some of the most experienced investigators in Virginia with experience going back to the 1980s.

Come learn from their experience and become a “Ghost Hunter” for the evening!

 ------ 2 cols color

Belle Grove Plantation welcomes

Investigator Medium Laine Crosby



As an investigative Medium, Laine has worked on missing person cases and with authors, historians, archaeologists and paranormal investigators. Author of “Investigative Medium – the Awakening”, Laine tells her own story of discovering her abilities and her amazing life as a medium.


Now have a chance to meet Laine Crosby for a very special session during our Paranormal Workshop!



Paranormal Workshop Schedule for Saturday, October 26th

Laine Crosby – Medium – 10:30am to 12:00pm

Break for Lunch – 12:00pm to 1:00pm (no food will be provided onsite)

Ghost Hunting 101 – 1:00pm to 1:30pm

Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) – 2:00pm to 2:30pm

Videography and Capturing Evidence – 3:00pm to 3:30pm

Case Management/ The Good, the Bad, The Curious (forms of hauntings) – 4:00pm – 4:30pm

Equipment Explanation – 5:00pm to 5:30pm

Tickets for the Paranormal Workshop

Individual Classes – $15.00

All Day Workshop (all classes) – $70.00

(This does not include the cost for the Medium Session)

Medium Session – $40.00


Overnight Ghost Hunt

Have you ever wanted to be a “Ghost Hunter”?

Come join us for an evening of Ghost Hunting at Belle Grove Plantation!


Hosted by Southeast Virginia Paranormal Investigators


Work with the experts as they show you how to use their latest in advance paranormal investigation equipment and knowledge to help you discover if Belle Grove Plantation is haunted.

Ghost Hunting

Friday, October 25th – 8pm to 4am

Saturday, October 26th -8pm to 4am

Halloween! Thursday, October 31st – 8pm to 4am

The Ghost Hunt will be a group of 25 individuals so space is very limited.

Tickets For Overnight Ghost Hunting

Ghost Hunt – $50


Suites Available for Overnight Ghost Hunting

Book a room and receive 20% off your room price!

Only Two Rooms left!

Please book your room on our Website



You may cancel your tickets or room up to Sunday, October 13th. If you cancel before this date, you will receive a complete refund. If you cancel after this date, no refunds will be given unless we can fill your space.

To See More Events and Local Attractions at Belle Grove Plantation

Please visit our Official Website at



or Please visit our Facebook Fan Page

Facebook Link

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | 23 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!

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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 »


Oct. 31st 2012

With today being Halloween, I thought I would share some ghost stories about some of the places we have talked about in the blog.

So gather around for some stories I found from the Central Rappahannock Regional Library in Fredericksburg.

If you dare….


(From our blog: This was the location of the dual between cousins – Posting Family Feud – published in June)

Fredericksburg, Virginia

Chatham was built in 1771 by William Fitzhugh and named after his classmate, Sir William Pitt, Earl of Chatham. The Georgian mansion became noted for its owner’s hospitality during colonial times, but played an even more significant role during the Civil War when it served as a Union headquarters. Walt Whitman and Clara Barton nursed the Union wounded there.

High on a bluff overlooking the Rappahannock River and the city of Fredericksburg stands Chatham. The mansion has hosted many important people, including George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and the Marquis de Lafayette. The spectral apparition haunting the estate is none of these illustrious figures, however. The ghost of Chatham is an English girl who returns in memory of a lost love. Dressed all in white, she walks upon her favorite path at the estate in fulfillment of a deathbed vow.

She was brought to Chatham by her father, who wished to sever the young woman’s romance with an English drysalter. Despite the enjoyable social life of the Virginia estate, the girl pined for her lover. The young drysalter followed her to America, however, and the lovers secretly planned their elopement. Finally the chosen night arrived. The young man silently moored a boat on the Rappahannock and cautiously placed a ladder against his love’s window. But instead of climbing down into the arms of her beloved, the young woman found herself enveloped by General George Washington. A guest at Chatham at the time, the general was informed of the elopement plans by a servant.

Washington had the drysalter arrested on that fateful night, and returned the girl to her father’s custody. Taken back to England by her father, the girl ultimately married someone of a more suitable social standing. But she never forgot her true love or the events at Chatham, and vowed to walk her favorite path on the anniversary of her death.

Several visitors and residents of Chatham have watched the English woman as she makes her anniversary journey on the path now known as Ghost Walk. Always seen between noon and midnight, the lady in white has visited Chatham once every seven years since her death on June 21, 1790.


(From our blog: This is one of the Historic Homes we have visited – Posting Kenmore Plantation – published in September)

Kenmore Plantation

Kenmore was built in 1752 by Col. Fielding Lewis for his bride, Betty Washington Lewis, only sister of George Washington. One of the most successful planters in Fredericksburg, Lewis lost part of his fortune when Virginia’s government failed to reimburse him for financing the Fredericksburg Arms Manufactory during the Revolutionary War. Lewis died in 1782 and the estate was eventually sold out of the family. The Georgian mansion and gardens are now restored to their colonial splendor, and one of its rooms is considered to be among “The 100 Most Beautiful Rooms in America”.

Betty Washington Lewis
sister of George Washington

Some people say the ghost of Fielding Lewis is haunted by his financial problems. Other theorize he returns to Kenmore simply because he cannot bear to leave his beautiful plantation – even in death.

Fielding Lewis

No one can be sure why Col. Lewis haunts his 18th century estate, but that he often returns cannot be denied. From the sound of heavy footsteps echoing through empty halls to fireplace andirons mysteriously crashing to the floor, Lewis has made his ghostly presence known to many visitors to the mansion. And Kenmore’s former master has been seen as well as heard.

His apparition usually appears in an upstairs bedchamber where Lewis attended to business matters. There the ghostly Lewis, attired in Revolutionary clothes, has been seen standing and reading a document he holds in his hands. The Colonel has also been seen in the same room, busily studying his accounts, with a look of deep concern in his eyes.
A man who sacrificed his fortune to the cause of American independence, Col. Fielding Lewis may still be troubled by his financial difficulties, as he wanders the rooms of his beloved estate.


(From our blog: This is the plantation that William Bernard took his new wife and children to after the death of Fannie Hipkins-Bernard- Posting A Father’s Love – published in June)

Mannsfield Plantation
in ruins after the Civil War

This 18th century stone mansion survived more than a century o f American change and turmoil until it was burned accidentally by Confederate forces during the Civil War. It was built in 1749 by Mann Page, a delegate to the House of Burgesses. The Mannsfield property adjoins the Fredericksburg Country Club, which is not open to the public.

“The South Will Rise Again,” is a familiar saying. But for the Confederate soldiers who haunt Mannsfield, the South never died. During the Civil War, Mannsfield was occupied by both Union and Confederate forces. The estate served as hospital and headquarters for both armies at different times. But it is the ghostly men in gray who return to haunt Mannsfield. Several nearby residents have sighted the apparitions of the Confederate soldiers as they congregate beneath the estate’s large trees.

The greatest number of ghostly visits occurred, however, while a clairvoyant woman was living in a nearby home. Regularly, the woman saw the uniformed men as they stood guard, tended to their horses, or cared for wounded soldiers. Perhaps these spectral Confederates who still haunt Mannsfield are awaiting the resurrection of the South.


(From our blog: This is the tavern across the street from the Schooler House B&B – Posting Weekend at the Plantation – published in August)

The Rising Sun Tavern

The Rising Sun Tavern recreates tavern life of the 18th century, when a tavern was the center of colonial life. Built in 1760 by George Washington’s brother, Charles, as a home, the building began its role of a tavern in 1792. It served as the city’s post office and stage coach stop. Originally known as the Eagle Tavern among the most patriotic symbols of early America, the tavern continued to operate under several keepers until 1827, when its liquor license was revoked.

Charles Washington
Brother of George Washington

Although its days of challenging and lively political discussions and games of cards and chess over pints of ale are past, the Rising Sun Tavern is still a lively historic attraction and its ghostly inhabitant maintains the spirit of cheer and mischief that once thrived at the tavern. For instance, one tavern guide found that the ghost delighted in unplugging the lights in an upstairs room. Tired of having to replug the cords, she finally cried, “Come on now, stop it!” As she turned to leave the room, the guide suddenly felt herself slipping to the floor as the tavern ghost pulled the rug out from under her. The lights remained plugged in the rest of the day, however.

Another hostess was coming down the stairs early one morning when she felt something tugging at the hem of her dress. She looked to see if her colonial gown was caught on something, but found nothing amiss. As she tried to proceed down the steps, however, she felt herself held tightly in place. Long a believer that the tavern’s ghost was its last owner, John Frazier, she exclaimed, “All right, John, let go!” Immediately she felt herself freed as the ghost let go of her dress hem.

Evidently the ghost is a playful apparition, for he delights in pulling the mob caps from the tavern hostesses’ heads. He also moves objects, such as candles, from their regular storage places. The tavern ghost may also be filled with the Christmas spirit since he delights in pulling his pranks during the holiday season.

Stratford Hall

Stratford Plantation
Historic Haunts

This is the family plantation of the Lee Family and Robert E. Lee. Last weekend I attended their Historic Haunts event on Saturday. It was open to people of all ages. With spooky games for the kids, food and drink and a ghost tour of the Great House, fun was to be had by all.

I was on the first ghost tour at twilight. Our tour guide was a kind gentleman dressed in colonial wear. He guided us around the grounds of the Great House and through it with our flashlights as the only source of light. Along the way we met up with other staff dressed in either colonial wear or costumes that wouldn’t be too scary for the young ones.

The stories we heard told of ghostly appearances of men, women and children that called this grand plantation home. After a walk through the Great House and boxwood garden, our tour ended at the family cemetery vault, which no longer has remains in it. It was a great time hearing the stories and seeing the plantation as the sun disappeared.

Once I returned to Belle Grove Plantation, I had a surprise waiting for me on my cell phone. During the first story, just before entering the house, I decided to video tape the guide telling the story of the ghostly visitors of Stratford Hall. Brett had not been able to attend and I wanted him to see what I got to see.

When I played the video on my phone, the tape started out fine. It was nice and clear, in full color. As the story moved along, the color of the video seemed to go to a gray color. It started out light at first. Then all of a sudden it when completely gray. But what was surprising was that the video started jumping around as if something was cause some kind of electrical disturbance. As suddenly as it came, it left.

So what could it have been?

Did one of the ghostly visitors walk in front of my cell phone as I taped the guide?

Who knows. But it does make you wonder.

We are just days away from the Silent Auction deadline!

Get your bids in soon!

Deadline is Friday, November 2nd at 11:59pm Eastern

Get your piece of Virginia History and help us preserve the history at Belle Grove Plantation!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 46 Comments »

Ghosts of the Past

Sep. 25th 2012

Since Brett and I have started this wonderful journey, there has been one question we seem to get over and over. When people see the manor house and find out that it is over 221 years old, we are asked, “Is there ghosts?” I can’t say that I haven’t asked the same question when I have gone to some of the historic homes Brett and I have done our research it over the years.

Well, with October just around the corner and a Wine Fest almost every weekend and the air cooling off in the evening, we wanted to answer this question head on so everyone knows.

Yes, Belle Grove has “ghosts”


The “ghosts” that I am talking about may not be the ones you are thinking of.

The “ghosts” I am talking about are the ghosts of days past. This plantation has been around for 342 years and the home has been here for 221 years. During this time, the people that have passed through the plantation have left their mark on it. It is these marks that have made Belle Grove the plantation it is today.

Belle Grove
July 1894

As I walk the plantation, I see the outbuildings that were once new and think of the hands that tolled there preparing meals for the manor.

Then I see the trees around the plantation and think of when they were first planted. What wars have them witnessed or marriages have taken placed below their branches?

I see the old boxwoods that line the driveway near the manor. What hands worked to plant them and later took care of them?

Leather Pieces and Shoe Heel Artifacts

And then there are the artifacts that we have found at the plantation. I look at pieces like the shoe heel and have “haunting” thoughts of who may have worn it and what work they may have done at the plantation to leave their mark.

Then there are the cup and plate artifacts. Who may they have served and what words were spoken that may have changed the course of the plantation?

So are there “ghosts” at Belle Grove that you expect to hear about around a fire during a cool October night?

That answer is up for debate.

But if you look at the plantation, you will find “ghosts” of day’s pasts that “haunt” it’s every corner.

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 77 Comments »

Petersburg and an Unexpected Visitor

Aug. 12th 2012

La Villa Romaine Bed and Breakfast


“Oh wow”

That was mostly what I said Friday and Saturday in Petersburg! We arrived late on Friday, thanks to my job holding me over and two traffic accidents blocking our escape from Norfolk. But when we pulled up to the house, all I could say was, “Oh wow.” This Italian style home that was built in 1858 was just a grand place!

Tiles on the Front Porch

As we walked up to the door, again the word, “Oh wow” escaped my lips. The front doors are 12 feet tall! There are two sets, the outer set and then the inner set, allowing a small reception space between the two. When Mrs. Roy opened the door to the main hall, I felt my breath rush out as I tried to say yet again, “Oh wow!” La Villa Romaine Bed and Breakfast is filled with beautiful French and Asian antiques that were from Mrs. Roy’s family in France.

Main Hall

Mrs. Roy warmly welcomed us and walked us upstairs to our room first to put away our things. The staircase leading up to our room was really grand! As you walked the first set of stairs, you were met by a small sitting area on the landing and a hall that leads back to a back section of the house. Then the next set of stairs lead you to the second floor rooms. Our room, The Louis XVI room was a warm floral room that wasn’t too over powering for a man to stay in. It has a king size bed with a draping half canopy. The walls are done in a white and blue stripe and it has a shared bath in yellow and blue. We were the only ones staying the night so we had the bath to ourselves.

Landing Sitting Area between the First and Second Floor

Louis XVI

Louis XVI

Louis XVI

From here Mrs. Roy walked us through to the next room that would have shared out bath, the Renaissance room. This is a very masculine room done in burgundy, browns and black. It is filled with a horse equestrian decor. The bed, the only full size bed in La Villa is a wood craved bed with a crown drape. The headboard had an egg carving in it. I wasn’t sure, but maybe it could have been a Thomas Brooks bed. Thomas Brooks was known for his egg carving accents on his beds. Either way, it was very impressive! If it had been a king or queen bed, I could have easily stayed in that room! Now here is something I have never seen and was really impressive. La Villa has decorated everything, including the inside of the closet spaces! Talk about attention to detail!




Renaissance – Thomas Brooks bed? See the Egg Craving

Renaissance – Closet

Mrs. Roy then walked us over to the Louis XV room with its deep pink walls and plaster accents on the walls. The bed, a king was draped with a beautiful pink crown. We then moved to the last room, the Provence room through the shared bath with the Louis XV room. This room is done in a floral and has a day bed added for additional guests. The king size bed is also draped with a beautiful crown. I was really impressed to learn that Mrs. Roy made all the curtains and draping in the house!

Louis XV

Louis XV

Bathroom between Louis XV and Provence



The main hall of the second floor is an inviting space with places to sit and read or to hold quiet conversations. Mrs. Roy pointed out the third floors above us and told us that they were two studies and a small tack room with her equestrian items. But we didn’t venture up there next. We headed back downstairs to the first floor. Here Mrs. Roy walked us through the main parlor with all her families’ French antiques. I have to say, it was mind blowing! I would love to have just a third of what she has for Belle Grove, but I don’t think it would match the style home it is. But what a great space to drool over!

Main Hall on the Second Floor

Formal Parlor

Formal Parlor

Formal Parlor

Mrs. Roy walked us across the main hall to the library next. As we walked across the floor, I took notice of the wood floor and its inlay patterns. Again, great attention to detail! You can tell the builder and first owner made sure it was to impress. The library was beautiful! It was down in a burgundy with antiques and books. The two most impressive antiques were two chairs from her family’s collection. One date to the 1400s and one from the 1500s. And here we think we are doing well with a home from the 1700s! “Oh wow!”

Wood Inlay Pattern


Library – The chair is from the 1500s

Library – The chair is from the 1400s!


Then we walked into the dining room which is filled with more antiques and china. It was so hard to take it all in! There was just so much to see! Then she led us back to the kitchen through a small butler’s pantry. The kitchen is a cozy space which can be more informal. It would be easily the gathering place for friends and family as the chef of the house whips up a gourmet meal for a few. At the back of the room was the old kitchen fireplace hearth. It was large as you would expect and gives that room that antique feel.

Formal Dining Room


Ktichen – Fireplace

Mrs. Roy then walked us to the day room just behind the formal parlor. This room was filled with Asian antiques and art from her family. Mrs. Roy explained that this room gets the morning sun and is a delight to enjoy your morning newspaper in. I don’t know, I think I would have a hard time reading the current news with such things to be studied around me! I didn’t ask the age of the items, but one would think with the collection this family has assembled over the years; there could easily have been items from the Ming Dynasty!

Day Room

Day Room

After looking around and taking in all we could in one viewing, our growling stomachs reminded us that we needed to head out to dinner and the Arts of Petersburg. We asked for a suggestion of places to eat and Mrs. Roy directed us to the Old Towne District with its abundant food and wide range of cuisines. We chose to head to a little Italian cafe, Maria’s Cafe on West Old Street. As we parked in the public parking lot just a block away, we could hear live music from the outdoor cafe area of Andrades. This restaurant features South American cuisine. Just next door to this is the Brickhouse Run, a British style pub where we were later told we should stop and try the Bangers and Mash. Across the street from Andrades was Wabi Sabi which we were told was a great place for sushi.

Before we hit Maria’s Cafe, we stopped at the Oaks Antique Mall to see my new friend, Robert the antique dealer. He had told us that he would be there working his booth for the Friday for the Arts. There we found him walking around in his tux tails serving a tray of cookies to the guest as they browsed the antiques. Talk about impressive service! I introduced him to Brett and we set an appointment for 11am the next morning to meet and see his home. Here we found out that he was just two doors down from La Villa! What a great bonus!

The Oaks Antique Mall – Robert

So off we went to Maria’s Cafe. I have to tell you as we turned the corner heading down to the opposite side of the block to Maria’s the aroma of the Italian food met us. I think we must have floated down that last block by our noses! Maria’s Cafe has a small outdoor cafe area and a wonderful sitting restaurant inside. As we came in, we were greeted again by the contemporary music of a solo artist. He had a wonderful deep and rich voice that wasn’t over powering and just right for a quiet meal between the two of us. Brett enjoyed Spaghetti with a Mushroom Marinara Sauce to which he added Meatballs. Brett is just a classic eater when it comes to Italian. I had the Chicken Piccata with Mushrooms and Capers and a Wine and Lemon Sauce. It was a wonderful meal and great customer service.

Maria’s Cafe

At this point, we were starting to drag a bit from our long day at work, so instead of dancing the night away at the outdoor cafe at Andrades, we headed back to La Villa Romaine for a restful night’s sleep. Brett was out like a light as soon as we hit the bed, but I needed to unwind, so I picked up a Petersburg guide that Mrs. Roy had in the room. As I started looking through the guide, I realized that there was so much more to Petersburg that I didn’t know.

Did you know that Petersburg was a main transport and shipping area for the new colonies? They had the Appomattox River for shipping and later the rail system. It was because of the rail system that Petersburg became an important area for the Union Army to hold during the Civil War. By cutting off the rail system in Petersburg, Richmond would be isolated and not be able to receive badly needed supplies. General Lee spent his last days of the War here trying to defend it. It would be just shortly after the fall of Petersburg that General Lee would surrender in Appomattox.

Did you know that the Battle of the Crater occurred here? If you saw the movie, Cold Mountain, they used this battle as part of the movie. It is where the Union Army dug a mine and filled it with explosives to blow a hole in the defense line of the Confederate Army. But sadly it did not have an affect the Union had hoped for. Instead, it resulted in more casualties for the Union forces (3798) than for the Confederate forces (1491). General Lee would call it “the saddest affair I have witnessed in the war.”

There were also several plantations in the area I wasn’t aware of. One in caught my eye, Weston Plantation in Hopewell, Virginia. I looked up the location and realized it was just a short drive from where we were. Maybe we would go see this plantation tomorrow on the way home was my thought. Finally I started getting sleepy so I shut off the light and drifted off to a quiet sleep. This house is very sound proof and we couldn’t even here the street noise from passing cars. It was a great way to fall asleep.

Around 4:30am I woke up and walked to our restroom. I turned the light, so by the time I laid back down; I know I was fully awake again. I cuddled back into my wonderful bed and drew the blanket up. As soon as I did, I heard what at first sounded like a deep bass from a radio in the distance. You know the kind you hear as you are sitting at a traffic light from someone’s car. I listened a little more. I realized quickly it was a deep bass sound. It was like footsteps. It sounded like a heavy boot walking along the hallway at a distance. It would walk a few steps, then stop and then walk some more. Then only thing was that it was getting louder with each step. It would walk a few more steps, stop and then walk again. Finally, I could hear it very clearly. It was a really hard boot sound. Someone that was heavy and walked hard. The next thing I knew, I could hear it in the room. It was walking up alongside my bed! I knew it because beside the bed is a small table with a marble top. On top of this table is a lamp and small picture frame. As it walked along my side of the bed, I not only heard the steps, but I could hear the frame and lamp rattle on the table from the steps vibrating the floor and table! All of a sudden I gasped and pulled the blanket up over my face. I didn’t want to see! It stopped. I quickly rolled over and asked Brett if he had heard it. Of course, he had slept through it as always. Sometimes I think a freight train could run through our bedroom and he wouldn’t hear it. So I turned on the light and looked around. Not a sound. After a few minutes, I turned off the light and settle back down. No sound. It was quiet for the rest of the night.

Now I don’t think this “visitor” was something to fear. I think it was more or less checking on me. I thought about it as I tried to go back to sleep. The first thought was that maybe this house had served as a hospital for the Civil War and it was a soldier that was walking around checking on things. It would make sense since the sound was boot like. So when I got up that morning, I met Mrs. Roy in the kitchen. We discussed my experience. She told me that the house was not used as a hospital, but General Ambrose Burnside had stayed there. Maybe it was General Burnside who was checking on us. Who knows, but it was an experience.

General Ambrose Burnside

We really enjoyed our stay at La Villa Romaine Bed and Breakfast…, in spite of the early morning visitor with heavy boots. If you should find yourself in the area of Petersburg or Richmond, Virginia, we highly recommend staying there for a night, or a couple nights.

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 24 Comments »