Colonial Williamsburg: Milliner, Music, and History

10/18/14 Saturday in Gloucester,VA (Chesapeake Bay RV Resort-TT)

On our way out we canceled our last day here, to leave on Monday. We’d decided that would give us some chance for a dentist appointment on Monday as well as put us a day ahead of the Tuesday rains. But the ranger couldn’t get us into another park.

On our way to Williamsburg we stopped at a Home Depot and bought a GFI receptacle. We realize that one of our “rules” is to stay at the campground during weekends, to keep away from the crowds. There were more people around, but we survived. This way we got a rest on Friday.

At the Milliner’s we discovered that factory workers in England would embroider such things as a waist coat (called a vest today) that could be cut out to fit the gentleman.

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On the left is a slipcover, always worn underneath the dress, yet with marvelous embroidery. They wore many things that were unseen, yet beautifully decorated. On the right is a “pocket”, also work underneath their dress.

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In summer the gentlemen could wear a banyan, a robe of lightweight material from India, with designs printed in India also.

milliner 4

On up the street we went to a program “The Gamut of Music”. No photography allowed. We learned that the first musical note, what we call a “G”, they called “Gamma”. Then the next note in the first chord of 4 notes was called “ut”, thus the term gamut, which means in a linear progression. 2 Gentlemen played the harpsichord and a sort of short cello. A lady played the guitar (sort of like a mandolin). She said women could play small instruments, but not anything that came near the face or neck like violins or horn instruments because they would interfere with the beauty of their face.

Then we just made it for a public audience with Patrick Henry, the great orator of his time. People remember his words “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death”. He was an excellent speaker, but not quite up to LaFayette’s inspiration. As he was answering individual questions at the end, we ate our picnic lunch. It’s a great time saver!


We then got in on a tour of the Capitol. I was amazed at how similar their system worked to ours. They had the House of Burgesses (2 representatives from each village), plus the legislators (chosen by the Governor) and the Governor. Of course, no checks and balances; all laws had to be approved by the King. Worse, Parliament (not even asking the King) was enacting punishing laws on the colonists with no representation by the King.

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The House of Burgess met here (the Speaker’s chair at the end is the original that survived when the first Capitol burned). The next photo is of where the legislators met. Notice how much richer their room is.

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The Burgesses were dissolved by the Governor, so they continued to meet in secret, when he was out of town. They wanted to create a list for the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia. George Mason realized how hard it is for a committee to come up with ideas they agree on, so he drew up 10 points for them to begin with. This is what they developed and presented at the Congress:

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This is the courtroom at the Capitol, for felonies like murder, grand theft and treason. The other courtroom we’d been to was the County Court for smaller offenses. In those days the jail (gaol) just held people until their trial. After the trial they are pronounced guilty (hung) or innocent (set free). They did have an option to plea “mercy” from the Judge. If the Judge grants them mercy, then they are branded on the fleshy part of their left hand and they are set free. The next time, they won’t get any mercy.

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Right when we finished our Capitol tour, we heard the fifes and drums. They started their march right outside the Capitol (we actually knew that and planned on it). So we had a great time listening and, for awhile, following them.

march 1


Then we hustled back beyond the Capitol to Bassett Hall. The part to the right was built in 1760, the part left of it in 1770, then when it was restored another part left of that was added in 1930. This is the Williamsburg home of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller Jr., where they stayed every spring (when the tulips came) and fall (when the mums were in bloom). He was inspired to support the restoration of this, at the time, sleepy village. It took years, but is truly a fabulous experience of history. They loved this home because of its intimacy and ease. It was more a home than a palace, like their others. Each morning he loved to go down Duke of Gloucester Street and talk with the workers (they wouldn’t know who he was) and she loved to invite the ladies from William and Mary College and the village to her place for tea. When she died their son took photos of everything, placing furniture and the like in storage. After he died it was then restored to how it was in 1948, when she died. The last image is of a warming oven.

bassett 1 bassett 2 bassett 3 bassett 4 bassett 5 bassett 6 bassett 7 bassett 8

At this point we gave our tired feet a treat and caught the shuttle back to the Visitor Center.

As we made our way home, I got a call from the dentist (responding to my message yesterday). Since I wasn’t experiencing any pain it was fine to wait until Monday to see if they had an opening then or Tuesday.

When we got back we treated ourselves to more yummy “Moose Tracks” ice cream. (Since we couldn’t find any true crack in my tooth via photos, I decided that I wouldn’t suffer if I had some ice cream…) While at the store John spotted the Manager, so we asked her if she could get us into Forest Lake a day earlier. She could and did, explaining that many managers can’t. All this was necessary because TT doesn’t answer phone calls (the only way to make CHANGES to your reservations) on the weekend.

When we got back to Miss Zanzibar John got ambitious, turning off all our power and taking out the old GFI outlet. At that point he found that one of its wires was not completely connected. Once he got it secure, we had our power. Nice job John!!!

Such a relief: no worries about a place to stay Monday, the dentist will find a time for me when I call Monday and our GFI issue is least it looks like it!


About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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