I was in two different prisons last week…

That’s right! I was in two different prisons at two different historic sites, and I loved it! I had a week off work, and I took advantage by traveling to a few of our Virginia history sites. Happy #TravelTuesday!

The first prison I was in was the Richmond County Museum in Richmond Co MuseumWarsaw, Virginia. The museum is located in the old jail c. 1872. While small, the museum has a lot of information on the local area to share. I learned a lot about the region and the different sites. My favorite experience at the museum was when I got to go in a small room located on the second level of the museum. I walked up the stairs and through the original doors of the jail’s second floor into what, at first glance, appeared to be a closet. There were interpretive panels surrounding the space. I started to read, and found out the floor I was standing on was once a trap door. There had been a hanging in Richmond County at the old jail… right where I was standing. I looked out the window in front of me, now overlooking the main intersection of the town of Warsaw.  Reading about the old jail and the hanging, I learned I was standing where the noose was strung and a trap door once opened. It was an eerie, eye-opening experience that will stick with me.

Following my stop at the Richmond County Museum, I continued down Route 3 for 30 minutes to the Mary Ball Washington Museum in Lancaster County. Mary Ball Washington was the mother of George Washington. While she did not live at the house, now museum, she is a native of the county. Mary Ball left Lancaster County and moved to Westmoreland County, where she married Augustine Washington and they had three children at their Pope’s Creek house, including George. Check out my previous post on the George Washington’s Birthplace in Westmoreland for more information on this site.

Lancaster JailThe day I was at the Mary Ball Washington Museum, they had a temporary quilt exhibit on display in the main house.  With a $3 admission, visitors receive a brochure for a self-guided tour. I really enjoyed how they presented this information for the visitor to travel through the house and surrounding sites at their leisure. Included with admission to the house museum was entry into the Old Clerk’s Office, the Court House greens and gardens, the library, and the old jail. (There’s my second jail!) Of the two jails I visited that day, this one had an air that left me peering over my shoulders. It was a large building and served as the County jail from around 1820 to 1938. The jail has a unique design with additions to satisfy a law passed in 1823 requiring the separation of different prisoners dependant on their crimes.  I was the only one in the prison touring at that time, reading my brochure and looking around, which left me quiet with thoughts as I took in my surroundings.

It was a fun day exploring two historical counties of the Northern Neck. The Northern Neck was the birthplace of three of the first five United States presidents and of the only two brothers who signed the Declaration of Independence. It is rich in history, and has a great Virginia wine trail you have read about before in earlier blog posts of mine: the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail. The wineries embrace this history of the region and offer great points of interest to visit along the trail to the numerous museums.

Cheers to #vahistory and #vawine!



About Christina

Lover of history and wine | Colonial America and Virginia history | Virginia wine lover with a book addiction | vawineuncorked.com
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