Tag Archives: old Virginia homes

Virginia, My Rich Inspiration (Old Homes & Historic Sites)

You may know I’m a Virginian living in the lovely Shenandoah Valley, but did you realize my family has been here for several hundred years and were among the earliest settlers in the valley, that the driving force behind my writing has been my passion for Virginia and its rich history, and reaches even further back to my English/Scots-Irish roots?

I find inspiration in the stories and places known to the people who’ve gone before me.  Many of these homes were dear to them and still are to us today.  I’m also an enormous fan of old gardens, mills, churches…if it’s historic, I’m on board.

Some of the old Virginia homes I’ve found most intriguing and inspiring are described and illustrated below.  This is only a sampling of the many beautiful houses that date to various time periods in Virginia’s extended history.

Mount Vernon, (above), the home of George Washington (built in 1757).  Mount Vernon is absolutely exquisite and the grounds are too.  I can’t rave enough about Mount Vernon.  The gardens are wonderful and the last time I was there, they sold heirloom flower seeds you can grow in your own gardens.  Same thing at Monticello.  Many of these historic sites are accompanied by museums and gift shops that offer items and books unique to that place.  Excellent for doing research on any particular site or time period.

Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson (Built in 1772). I love Monticello, a wonderful old home, and the grounds and gardens are fabulous.  It’s filled with Jefferson’s inventions.  He was an amazing man whom I much admire.  We are proud to claim him as a Virginian, along with a number of other outstanding founding fathers, including George Washington mentioned above.   Not to neglect the founding mothers of whom my favorite is Abigail Adams.  If you haven’t seen The Adam’s Chronicles, you really should.  Extremely well done series, produced by Tom Hanks,  much of which was actually filmed in Virginia.

The beautifully historic homes in Colonial Williamsburg…all of Williamsburg, actually, are wonderful. Largely restored in the 1930’s, Williamsburg is a major tourist attraction for visitors from all over the world.  My dad tells me his aunt had an antique shop there he used to visit, now gone.  Sigh.  Wish that was all restored and still in the family.  How kewl would that be?  I’m a huge fan of colonial Williamsburg.  You haven’t lived until you’ve visited Williamsburg, but if at all possible go during the less crowded and more pleasant seasons of spring or fall.  Summer can be quite hot and humid, but anytime is better than missing it altogether and they do have air conditioning in most of the buildings.  The last time I was there the weather was cool and the crowd thin.  Just the way I like it.  I toured once in cold wind-driven rain, but the crowd was light.  Come to think of it, it’s high time I went back for another visit.

The magnificent Carter’s Grove Plantation (Completed in 1755)  An amazing place!  We visited Carter’s Grove repeatedly on our honeymoon as we went to Williamsburg and it’s not far.  Carter’s Grove is spectacular.  Definitely one of the most impressive colonial homes I’ve ever visited.  I try to imagine actually living there.

Shirley Plantation (Completed in 1738) Fascinating old home and outbuildings.  Shirley is part of the inspiration behind light paranormal romance Somewhere My Love. I have a separate post about Shirley’s famous ghost, Aunt Pratt.  That’s an amazing tale in itself.

Berkeley Plantation (Brick home built in 1726 but the history of the site extends much further back into early America).  I was particularly struck by Berkeley, part of the inspiration behind light paranormal Somewhere My Love.  Berkeley has beautiful gardens too.  I have a separate post on Berkeley, the actual site of the first Thanksgiving.

Chapel Hill, our Virginia family home place (Circa 1816) *the snowy pic.  This beautiful old house had enormous significance in my life and undergirds every story I tell set in an old plantation.  That ‘snake incident’ in historical romance Enemy of the King happened right here.  Those of you who think snakes can’t wind themselves around the antlers of a buck mounted up on the wall best think again.   And they like to do it at night when small children are on route to the bathroom.

The Joshua Wilton House: “The Joshua Wilton House…is a superb small inn and restaurant” – The Sunday New York Times ~ To quote from their website: “Joshua Wilton House offers guests an oasis of quiet charm and gracious living in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. In an elegantly restored Victorian home, Joshua Wilton House occupies a corner in the historic “Old Town” district of Harrisonburg, Virginia.”

This lovely old home is part of the inspiration behind light paranormal romance Somewhere My Lass. I used a compilation of Victorian era Virginia homes, some of which I’ve lived in, for the mysterious house in historic Staunton Virginia where the story begins~

Books I’ve written most influenced by old homes thus far include:

Colonial American Romance Novel Enemy of the King

Light Paranormal Romance Novel Somewhere My Love

Light Paranormal Romance Novel Somewhere My Lass (Release date TBD)

A Warrior for Christmas,  in An American Rose Christmas Anthology.

I’ve explored my fascination with castles in Somewhere My Lass as part of my Scottish roots. This is the beautiful Eilean Donan. I hope you share my passion for the past and these wonderful old homes in particular.  But whether you do or not, I will always cherish these places and my memories of them.

Super Review of Somewhere My Love by Author Icy Snow Blackstone

Time means nothing to star-crossed lovers.

SOMEWHERE MY LOVE by Beth Trissel.

Let me start off by saying I don’t like Time-travel stories…they just seem so futile.  I do like Somewhere My Love, however, so I’m contradicting myself and that’s what makes Life so wonderful–its little contradictions.

British-born Julia Morrow has found herself a dream job, working as a summer guide at Foxleigh, a stately plantation in historic Virginia.  Immediately, she has a sense of familiarity about the place, especially the portrait of Cole Wentworth, the tragic heir who was murdered in his bedchamber some two centuries before.  This feeling is further compounded when she meets William, the current manager of Foxleigh who is Cole’s double.  It isn’t long before both William and Julia are experiencing the first stirrings of attraction and love, and the odd sensation that they’ve been through that emotion before.  Julia comes to believe she and William are tied to the original star-crossed lovers Cole and Julia Maury, and the dreams she has of incidents in their lives confuse and worry her.  William’s a little more practical about the whole thing; he thinks it’s merely Julia’s romantic imagination and the atmosphere the plantation itself exudes.  Having given up his law practice to manage the plantation, he’s accustomed to women’s attention because of his resemblance to Cole.  In fact, he’s even let the rumor about that he’s gay so he’ll be left alone but when he meets Julia, however, he squashes that idea fast. Before he can becomes serious, Fate adds a third player to the cast. With the arrival of Lyle McChesney, an out-of-work Australian hired as a handiman, there’s now a rival for Julia’s affection.

When William’s grandmother decides to produce Hamlet as the plantation’s annual Shakespearean play, with William as the melancholy prince, Lyle as Laertes, and Julia as Ophelia, the story reels to its climax in a duel with real swords instead of tipped foils. With a deft counterpointing of the action, the author allows the drama onstage to play itself out paralleling the relationships between the three characters in the play, those in the present, and what happened in that fateful triangle in the past.  Suddenly, no one at Foxleigh is who they appear to be, but merely shadows of the souls they were in Cole and Julia’s world, and the mystery of the death of the heir to the plantation is discovered with devastating and surprising results.

Beth Trissel’s novel is the first in a series; read it and I guarantee it won’t be the only one you’ll read.


For more on my work please visit: www.bethtrissel.com

Somewhere My Love Won the Clash of the Covers Contest at Embrace The Shadows!

clash buttonWoo Hoo!  Thanks to everyone who voted for Somewhere My Love, a murder mystery/ghost story romance with flashbacks to early nineteenth century Virginia and Hamlet parallels.

P&E Logo thing

Blurb from Somewhere My Love

Newly arrived at Foxleigh, the gracious old Wentworth home in Virginia, British born Julia Morrow is excited at the prospect of a summer working as a guide in the stately house and herb garden.  She quickly discovers the historic plantation holds far more.  She becomes obsessed with the portrait of handsome Cole Wentworth, killed in a quarrel over the lovely English lady, Julia Maury, two hundred years ago.  Then she meets his double, William, the only remaining Wentworth heir.  Somehow, Julia must persuade Will that their fates are entwined with those of Cole Wentworth and Julia Maury, and that the man who killed his ancestor has returned to enact the deadly cycle again, or she will lose him twice.  The blade is about to fall.

SomewhereMyLove_WRP_2024_300Excerpt from Somewhere My Love:

A cold finger laid its icy touch on Julia and ran down the length of her spine. “How did it happen?”

“He’s said to have been run through by the very man who made that mark on the door. A Mr. Cameron. Scottish fellow he was, back in…” Mrs.

Hensley pursed her thin lips, blue eyes distant. “Ah, yes, 1806. Some fuss over a woman.”

“How dreadful. What about Mr. Cameron?”

“The friend of a neighbor, I believe. He escaped and was never found. No justice was ever done in the matter.”

Julia hesitated, then asked, “And the woman?”

“Heartbroken, poor thing. She returned to England. She was a guest of the Wentworth family and greatly enamored of Cole. All the young ladies

were, but he had a particular fascination with this girl.”

“Why was she so special?”

“Apart from her legendary beauty? She had an angelic quality about her. Or so the story goes.”

An irrational jealousy twanged a jarring note in Julia. In the space of a few short minutes she’d fallen in love with the man in the portrait—typical of her impractical nature and unlikely to advance her nonexistent love life. And yet, she couldn’t help plunging into this sweet madness.

She tore her eyes from the painting. “Do you recall the lady’s name?”

full moon with cloudsMrs. Hensley gave a little laugh. She tapped a finger to her furrowed forehead. “Isn’t that odd? It was Julia something…hmmmm.”

Was Mrs. Hensley teasing her? She had to know.

“I’ve got it. Julia Maury,” the guide continued and arched graying brows. “You’re from England, aren’t you, Miss Morrow? Tread with care here, my

girl. We don’t want you stirring up any ghosts. Foxleigh has enough already.”

“No,” Julia said, reaching out to the dresser to steady herself. Without meaning to, she suspected she’d already stirred up some force beyond her understanding.

Star-crossed lovers, flashbacks to early 18th century Virginia, ghostly, murder mystery, light paranormal romance, Gothic flavors…SOMEWHERE MY LOVE.

For more on my work please visit: www.bethtrissel.com

Embrace The Shadows: http://embracetheshadows.wordpress.com/

Aunt Pratt, Shirley Plantation’s Famous Ghost

ShirleySeveral years ago when my mother and I were visiting old Virginia homes, we went to Shirley Plantation along the James River.  Beautifully preserved, Shirley is well worth a visit.  While there, we saw the painting of Aunt Pratt which has been the subject of odd occurrences at Shirley, and elsewhere, depending on where the portrait is hung. It seems ‘Aunt Pratt’ prefers a certain back bedroom, though the guide wasn’t certain why.

Shirley Plantation and the story of Aunt Pratt were part of the inspiration behind my light paranormal romance Somewhere My Love, released a year ago this month.  In honor of the anniversary of Somewhere My Love, I am reposting that most interesting piece.


SomewhereMyLove_WRP_2024_300Shirley Plantation is home to a famous ghost called “Aunt Pratt.” To quote their website: “Aunt Pratt” was Martha Hill Pratt, the daughter of early Shirley ancestor Edward Hill III. Her portrait in the bed chamber of Shirley’s Great House is the subject of intriguing stories which have been retold by noted author L.B.Taylor, Jr. in his book, Ghosts of Virginia, Volume I. Mr. Taylor is also author of Haunted Houses, published by Simon and Schuster, as well as five regional Virginia ghost books, including Civil War Ghosts of Virginia.

The story of “Aunt Pratt” is included in Lori Haskin’s Book – Spooky America: Four Real Ghost Stories

A reviewer of the book describes the tale:
Picky Aunt Pratt
Shirley Plantation, Charles City, Virginia
January 2002

Martha Hill Pratt must have been an extremely strong woman when she was alive, that’s the only way she could have a ghost that could command so much attention. Martha Pratt was born at the plantation but married and moved to England, the portrait of her hung in the first floor gallery for years, overlooking the family cemetery. In the mid 1800’s the family decided to redecorate and moved the painting to the attic.

Night after night, family members could hear a tapping noise coming from the attic, puzzled they realized the only thing that was moved to the attic was the painting so they decided to move it to the third floor. The tapping continued so they tried the second floor.

That didn’t seem to work either so they returned the painting to the first floor where it originally hung. After that, everything was quiet again. That is until 1974 when family members shipped the painting to New York City for a display of haunted goods. Martha didn’t like it, not at all; the painting rumbled and rattled until they decided to put it in a closet for the night. The family decided that Aunt Pratt had enough, they had the frame fixed [it was damaged when it was in the closet] and hung it back in it’s original location where it still hangs a little crooked to this very day. The last line sums it up perfectly: It’s just a friendly reminder from Aunt Pratt…leave me alone!

For more on Shirley Plantation and Aunt Pratt visit: http://www.shirleyplantation.com/aunt_pratt.html

To explore other historic ‘haunts’ in Virginia check out:


To purchase Pamela Kinney’s non-fiction book, Haunted Richmond, Virginia or her newest book, Haunted Virginia, visit http://www.schifferghosts.com/


For more on my work please visit: www.bethtrissel.com