A Private Tour of Colonial Williamsburg!

**PLEASE NOTE: While John Sutton and Williamsburg Private Tours DID provide me with a tour at no cost, I was not in any way paid for my review. The following opinion is hereby my own.**

I’m so excited about today’s post – it’s really a special one!

At the beginning of November, my husband had to go away on business for two whole weeks. While both of us had been away for work events since we had been married, two weeks was slated to be the longest we’d ever been away from each other since we had FIRST MET! And, while I don’t think he’d call me a needy wife, we were both a bit unsure of how we would do away from each other for that length of time.

So I decided to fly up to Virginia Beach and spend a weekend with him!

Thanks to Hotwire, I got round-trip tickets and a rental car for under $300 – quite the deal, if I do say so myself! My plan was to travel up on Friday afternoon, spend all day Saturday with him, and then come back home on Sunday.

But what were we going to do on Saturday? Virginia Beach is quite the happening place when it’s warm, but it was in the 30’s and 40’s that weekend. I wasn’t going anywhere near the ocean, and most of the area’s “beach tourism” spots were closed down because of the weather.

In my snooping around, I discovered that we would be just about an hour away from Williamsburg, Virginia!

Now, any U.S. history buffs like myself know what a draw Colonial Williamsburg is, right?! Both Jerrod and I really enjoy historical destinations during our travels, and neither one of us had ever been to Williamsburg (believe it or not), so it was the perfect destination!

But how on earth could we see everything? I mean, I knew we could walk through and SEE everything, but as far as actually knowing all those special details behind the historic sites…I was worried we would miss all that.

So…I decided to book a tour. And literally, the first website I stumbled upon was Williamsburg Private Tours, and it belonged to John Sutton.

Meet John:

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Well, that’s John on the right, ha! This is me and John outside Christiana Campbell’s Tavern, which was George Washington’s favorite tavern to hang out in in Williamsburg! (The fact that I LOVE to cook and bake and serve others and that my name is Kristen Campbell is no coincidence, I’m sure!)

When I came across John’s website, I was pretty impressed! You can check it out by CLICKING HERE. I contacted him to see if he was available to give a tour on the Saturday that we had planned to be in Williamsburg, and he was!

We arrived in downtown Williamsburg about 15 minutes ahead of our tour and discovered a wonderful market happening in Merchants Square!

I do love a good market on a Saturday! #merchantcircle

It was great to poke around, see all the items up for sale, and also enjoy local shops, like The Cheese Shop! <— So amazing!

Our designated spot to meet with John was at the seated statue of Thomas Jefferson.

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Notice how he looks like he’s writing? He used to hold a bronze quill…until some mischievous vagrant broke it off and stole it. Poor Mr. Jefferson.

Not only has he lost his pen, but Mr. Jefferson is FREEZING! I tried to warm him up a bit, but I don’t think it did him much good…

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…but he was gracious, nonetheless!

When John arrived, we got acquainted quickly. He’s one of those kinds of people that you can get to know quickly, and it isn’t long before you feel like you’re in the presence of a friend! And we started off our friendship with a tour of the GORGEOUS College of William & Mary!

The college is named such for King William III and Queen Mary II of England, is the second oldest in the nation, and as they boast, has had classes cancelled because the British invaded! Three of the first ten U.S. presidents attended the College of William & Mary: Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and John Tyler. More recently, comedian Jon Stewart, actress Glenn Close and quite a variety of sports stars have all attended the school!

We spent most of our time here, in the Sir Christopher Wren Building:

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Interesting facts about this building:

  • Workers began construction on this building, then known simply as the College Building in 1695, before the town of Williamsburg even existed
  • According to tradition, the building was designed by the famed English architect Sir Christopher Wren who also designed St. Paul’s Cathedral in London
  • Over the next two centuries, the Wren Building burned on three separate times, each time being re-built inside the original walls

Also, those cannons – on either side of the door, can you see them? – are among several captured from the British after the Battle of Yorktown in 1781. These cannons were actually fired AT George Washington. Eerie!

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And here is proof that the cannons were indeed discharged…

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We checked out the inside of the Wren Building, as well, and came across this lovely painting of Queen Mary II of England! (the “Mary” of the college) inside The Great Hall. Any ideas why this painting may have been a pricey one to complete?

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Because her arm was included! Painting commissioned that included an arm or a leg were always more expensive, hence our saying these days: “It cost me an arm and a leg!”

The Wren Building also houses the beautiful Wren Chapel.

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All that light is coming from windows down the top left of the room!

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Yes, the organ still works!

And yes, it’s beautiful, but a bit eerie, as well. Among those buried in the crypt under the Chapel are several distinguished Virginians — Sir John Randolph, his sons John “the Tory” and Peyton, Bishop James Madison — as well as Lord Botetourt, the beloved colonial governor, a statue of whom can be seen in front of the Wren Building.

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#collegeofwilliamandmary #colonialwilliamsburg

One of the things we loved about John’s tour was the fact that he knows SO much about not only Colonial Williamsburg, but of American history in general!

He showed us this:

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That, my friends, is a sixpence. (It was basically the equivalent to the dollar we have now). Except, in colonial times, they didn’t have pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters…you get the idea. All they had were these coins. So if something cost LESS than one of these coins…they simply broke the coin into bits. Yes, “bits”. Have you ever heard the cheer, “Two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar!”? Here’s where it originated!

John throws TONS of these fun facts into his tours! We really have no idea how many of the colloquialisms we use now originated back at the birth of our nation!

We moved on to see some more of the historic sites, and came across the beautiful Bruton Parish Church!

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Interesting facts about this church:

  • It was the First Anglican church built in 1660
  • It was named Bruton Parish for Bruton, Somersetshire, England
  • It was used as a hospital during two wars
  • Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Richard Henry Lee, George Wythe, Patrick Henry, and George Mason ALL attended church here

There are many historical homes that are original to Colonial Williamsburg that are still standing…

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…and also places that have been re-created to look just as they would have “back in the day”, like this garden!

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And John has a story along each step of the way! We really felt as if we had stepped back in time!

We made sure to stop and admire the Governor’s Mansion at the end of the Palace Lawn…

#governorsmansion #palacelawn #colonialwilliamsburg

…and even learned some intricate details about the flag of the great state of Virginia along the way!

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The tour would not have been complete without seeing The Capitol Building!

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Interesting facts about this building:

  • Men who gathered here on May 15, 1776 spoke for American independence (that literally gives me chills to type!)
  • This current building is actually the third one on the site
  • There is a naturalization ceremony held here once a year

And of course, THIS is Christiana Campbell’s Tavern!

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It really was George Washington’s favorite place to chillax while he was in Williamsburg! How cool would it be to serve him some food?!

There was so much more to this amazing tour – I really could go on and on – but I had to condense it into one post!

In conclusion, let me say two things:

1. GO TO COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG. It’s an absolutely amazing place, SO rich in history, and completely beautiful! You will be in awe, I promise!

2. Take a tour with John Sutton! John was born and raised in Williamsburg – you can’t get anyone better to show you around, tell you some great stories and enjoy a historic stroll with, of this, I’m convinced! He will do tours for you, your family, your school group, or any other kind of group you’re a part of, and I guarantee that it will be a blast!

To visit John’s website (TONS of awesome info there, you’ll love it!) CLICK HERE!
You can also find John’s tour page on Facebook and see a pic of US that he snapped at the end of our tour, so CLICK HERE!

You can also find John on LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter and YouTube!

Oh, and not only does John do tours of Williamsburg, but he also does a Ghost Lantern Tour, a Jamestown Tour, a Yorktown Tour, a James River Plantation Tour, and even a Civil War Tour! We’ve already decided that next time we’re in the area, we’re totally going to do the Ghost Lantern Tour!

Thank you, John! We had a fantastic time, and we both look forwarding to seeing you again one day!

And FYI, if you’d like to see even more pics of our tour, head over to my Instagram by CLICKING HERE!

I hope you enjoyed this special post about life at America’s beginnings, very near to the place where the first Thanksgiving ever was celebrated! It’s a great time to reflect on where America came from, and be grateful for everything she is today!

Due to the amount of comments from all of my wonderful readers, it is not always possible for me to respond to each one. However, I absolutely do read them all, and if you’d like to address something specific, or have a question for me, please don’t hesitate to email me at Kristen@theroadtodomestication.com. I will respond to your email as soon as possible! Thank you for visiting the blog!

36 thoughts on “A Private Tour of Colonial Williamsburg!

  1. i love Colonial Williamsburg! We took the kids there years ago and also visited Busch Gardens and a water park. It was a fun vacation and we all learned a thing or 2 at Williamsburg. Great tour, Kristen.

  2. I have a colleague heading to Virginia Beach soon (and we were just talking about it a few minutes ago!) I’m going to recommend he try to do this tour. It looks like a great tour to take!

  3. A lot of interesting things ! Great to know about the coin bits, paintings and other stuffs. Will note this place in our bucket list 🙂 Thank you for sharing us about the history. Your pictures are wonderful 🙂

  4. Your photos are awesome, I really feel like I was there with you. I’ve never been there, but I would like to go with my kids some day. Maybe not in winter though. LOL

  5. I hadn’t heard of the place, being from England, but I know Christopher Wren who designed the main building. He designed many great buildings and works in London. History is fascinating and it’s great to bond with a good guide. You and your husband look as if you’re enjoying yourselves. 😉

  6. Okay… this is freaky. First I go to Theresas blog and she and I are both making baked beans. She made them… I am making them tonight.
    I come to visit you and you have done Virginia Beach and Colonial Williamsburg.
    My Hubs and I are taking all our kids and grandkids to Virgina Beach in 2015. One of the places we are talking about visiting is Colonial Williamsburg.

    I am hearing the music from the Twilight Zone in my head. LOL you are probably too young to have seen that show.

  7. I have been to Colonial Williamsburgh-but ages ago. My Parents took me there, Honestly I don’t remember much. I never knew this ‘Painting commissioned that included an arm or a leg were always more expensive, hence our saying these days: “It cost me an arm and a leg!” VERY interesting!!

  8. I have lived in Virginia Beach all my life and have never visited Colonial Williamsburg, but I have visited Jamestown in middle school. I have learned a lot from your post. Next time you need to come during the summer and visit the oceanfront, Kings Dominion; mostly roller coasters, Busch Gardens; water and rides, and Water Country USA; water park. All super fun places. And let me tag along, I’ll give you a free tour 😉

  9. It looks like you guys had a great time! Not to mention learned quite a bit of history too. I may need to make some plans to take my own tour soon!

  10. I know what you mean about being apart from your husband for any period of time. Stacy had job training for 2 months in Biloxi, Ms. years ago and I went with him.
    If that is a life size sculpture of Thomas Jefferson, he was a small man! What a shame that someone stole the pen!
    Beautiful pictures. I would very much enjoy a trip to Williamsburg!

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