Monthly Archives: October 2011

Halloween Haunts: Bacon’s Castle

 
A few years ago, in time for Halloween, our local PBS station, WHRO, planned a series of video vignettes about supposedly haunted places in the Hampton Roads area. 

The folks from WHRO visited Bacon’s Castle and decided that a video about the “Castle Light” would be part of the series.  The video would be just a few minutes in length, and would air with other videos in one of two thirty-minute shows.

Guess who they chose to play the male lead?

Marshall!

I was proud of him for taking part in this. He made several friends at the tv station and learned a bit about the “film business”.  (Although the Castle Light wasn’t depicted in the video quite as we had always heard it described.) Prior to Halloween Haunts airing on tv, Marshall was invited to a private showing and reception at the WHRO studios in Norfolk. Motor Man and I went as his guests.

Of all the stories, pictures and events involving my family and Bacon’s Castle, the two most special, by far, are my wedding to Motor Man that took place there, and Marshall appearing in this video.

Here’s the link to Halloween Haunts-Bacon’s Castle.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWP7woe6QrQ

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Castle Sunset

 
Last week, in my post about portraying my grandmother during a Twilight Tour at Bacon’s Castle, I shared this photo of the sunset. It was taken through a window in the attic, where I was stationed during the tour.

This next photo was taken through the same window, but I used a flash on this one.  It’s easy to see that very little has been done in the way of restoration in the attic, or garret, as it was called.

My post last week resulted in many comments regarding my family’s years at Bacon’s Castle, as well as strange happenings that have supposedly taken place there.  This week, I’ve enjoyed sharing our family’s Castle photos and stories about the house.

I have one more (special) Bacon’s Castle post planned for tomorrow – Halloween, and then we will return to “regular programming”.

Castle Sunrise

 
Recently, Marshall & I headed out at “0 dark thirty” to catch the sunrise at Bacon’s Castle. He and I both have many, many photos of the house and property, but realized we’d never been there at that time of day.

It was a beautiful morning to be up and about so early.

 Marshall says the Castle just begs to be photographed.

I love this one that he took of the sunrise through the trees on the front lawn.

And this one of the barnyard area at golden hour. Even with algae on the fence, it’s still a beautiful photo.

When Bacon’s Castle was built, the front door was in the area of the house that’s illuminated in the morning light in this next picture.  It was known as the porch tower. Sometime in the 1700’s, an addition was built and joined to the original house by way of a “hyphen”. The front door was then moved to the hyphen.

Yes, this house begs to be photographed. And Marshall and I oblige every chance we get.

The Girl At The Gate

 
Are you tiring of Bacon’s Castle stories yet? I sure hope not, because I have another one to share today.

I may have mentioned previously that I worked for one season, in 2000, as a historic interpreter at the Castle. Marshall also began his ten-year employment there that year.  One afternoon, he and I were the only staff members working, and at one point, we had no visitors in the house or on the property.

The gift shop/admission office was located at the rear of the house, but there was a hallway leading to a front window. And through the window, you could see the gate at the end of the drive. I was sitting at the desk, and Marshall was standing in the center of the room, looking down the hall toward the window.

Suddenly, he began staring intently in that direction, leaning forward as if to get a better look.  He didn’t say anything at first, but glanced at me and pointed toward the front gate.

I thought: that must really be an unusual car coming down the drive.

Finally, he said something like: “there’s a girl standing at the gate”.  I stood up from the desk, walked around it and went over to where he was. By that time, she had walked behind one of the brick posts.

We immediately began walking through every room at the front of the house, looking toward the highway, but never saw anyone.  A few minutes later, a family drove through the gate, came in and signed up for a tour. We asked if they’d seen anyone walking along the highway: they hadn’t.  (Bacon’s Castle is on a quiet little country road, and a person wouldn’t have had time to walk to any of the nearby houses.)

I’ll always remember what Marshall asked me shortly after this happened. He said: “Mom, you do believe me, don’t you?”.  Well, yes, I do believe him. First of all, because he’s my son, and also because I witnessed first-hand his reaction to what he saw at the gate.

He said the girl wasn’t dressed as women dress today, but rather was wearing a long, white dress, and was standing directly in the center of the drive, looking toward the house.

A few years later, a visitor had taken a tour guided by one of the other interpreters. When the tour was over, the visitor asked Marshall who that girl would have been that she saw in the garden. She described her just as Marshall described the girl at the gate to me.

Marshall and I will tell you that this was something we couldn’t explain. And perhaps some things just aren’t meant to be explained.

Scared Of My Own Shadow…And The Light

 
It was a relief to see Mama Kat’s list of Writer’s Workshop prompts this week and realize that I could participate and still keep with my Bacon’s Castle theme.

The prompt I chose is:

3.) Something that scared the {heck} out of you when you were a child.

My grandmother lived less than a half mile from us during my childhood.  Of her twelve children, ten of them lived within an easy drive of her house.  Mom and I went to visit Grandma everyday, so I was frequently in the company of my aunts and uncles.

Since the family lived in Bacon’s Castle while all of them were young, the conversation during family gatherings many times would center on events that took place there.

Now, Bacon’s Castle has a history of strange happenings occuring in and around the property, the most familiar being “The Castle Light”.  Supposedly a ball of light travels from the Castle House across a field to a nearby cemetery.  There hasn’t been talk of anyone seeing it for a long, long time. But many years ago, most everyone in the community professed to seeing it.

My mom, realizing that I was a child afraid of my own shadow, did her best to steer the conversation away from the Castle Light whenever possible. She knew that, although I may not have questions while listening to the stories, I would most certainly have them later. At home. After dark.

Today, I’m sharing a few stories about the Castle Light, shared by my family. Most of these I learned after I was grown, by talking with my aunts and uncles –  without Mom’s censorship.

Not all of the children in the family could actually see the light. My youngest aunt, Sarah, was one that could see it. She told me that one evening, when she was around 12 years old (this would have been 1937), she had ridden with her dad to town to pick up a prescription for an elderly man who lived in a little house behind the Castle. As they were driving home down the lane, they could see a light, about the size of a basketball, bouncing along the path in front of them. It stopped over the little house where the elderly man lived. When her daddy went to the door with the medicine, the man’s family told Grandaddy that he had just passed away. When Aunt Sarah looked again, the light was gone.

Aunt Sarah also told me that my grandma could see the Castle Light. On one occasion, she had awakened during the night and gone to the kitchen.  Electricity hadn’t yet come to the area, so the house was dark. Suddenly the kitchen was filled with a bright light. My grandma screamed and then fainted.  You may recall that she had 12 children, so I doubt that she was one to faint easily.

All during my childhood, my mom always pushed aside the idea of the Castle Light, saying she didn’t believe in it and had never seen it.  But at one point, I guess she decided I was old enough to handle the truth.

She finally told me that she had seen something she couldn’t explain. After she and my dad were married (in 1929), they went to visit her parents one evening. (Again, remember  there was no electricity. Oil lamps were the only lighting.) As they were driving down the lane, the front room that was used as a parlor was lit with a brilliant light.

By the time they got to the house, the light was gone. She asked her mother who had been in the parlor. Grandma said: “No one’s been in there. No one’s here except your Papa and me, and we’ve both been back here in the sitting room”.

My Aunt Martha shared stories of seeing the Castle Light, but she added humor to hers. One night, she was upset with her Papa and ran upstairs to her bedroom. She glanced out the window and saw the Castle Light, and soon afterward, heard footsteps on the stairs, so she hid under the covers.  Then she told herself that the light couldn’t be walking up the steps. It turns out that it was her daddy coming to check on her.

I wish I had documented all the stories my aunts and uncles told. Just imagine how many more I could have heard if I hadn’t been such a scaredy cat.

Mama’s Losin’ It 

If Windows And Doors Could Talk

 
….and just maybe…..they can.

This room in Bacon’s Castle is known as the Ladies’ Chamber.

My Aunt Martha was married in this room on Christmas Day, 1935. And Motor Man and I were married in this same room on February 2, 2002, (02-02-02).

If you look closely on the facing of the window to the left, you’ll see evidence of my family’s years at the Castle. Remember I mentioned my Aunt Lucille in yesterday’s post?  The initials in the top left corner in this next picture are those of her (future) husband, AGB, followed by hers: LME. They’ve been painted over many, many times, but are still visible.

The initials in the lower part of the picture are my Uncle Andrew’s, ABE, and I’m guessing FEP was a girlfriend at some point in his young life.

This is the back side of one of the doors located in the attic at Bacon’s Castle. Once again, we find Andrew’s initials.  These carvings must have taken place after the ones in the previous picture, because MVB became his wife.

What would the window facing and attic door tell us? That Andrew was the first boy in his family to get a pocket knife.  That he once loved (or thought he loved FEP), but MVB won his heart. The window would tell us that Lucille, although she grew up to be prim and proper, was once a mischievous young lady.

And that would be just a small fraction of what those windows and doors would tell us. If only they could.

Castle Barn Charm

 
Continuing with the Bacon’s Castle theme, my entry for this week’s Barn Charm is one of the old barns located on the Castle farm.

A little info:

The smoke-stained timbers

I can just imagine the time my Grandaddy and my uncles spent in and around this barn.

Linking up to Tricia’s Barn Charm.