My Family At Bacon’s Castle

Due to popular demand (from a couple of my readers), today’s post is about how my Mom and her family came to live in Bacon’s Castle in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

First, a little history about the house.  Everyone from the little town of Bacon’s Castle refers to Bacon’s Castle (the house) as “The Castle House”. It was built by an Englishman, Arthur Allen, in 1665. It’s not known how he came to be wealthy enough to build such an elaborate house in the Virginia countryside at that time.

It was originally referred to as “Allen’s Brick House”, but since being briefly overtaken by supporters of Nathaniel Bacon and used as a fortress during Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676, it has been known as Bacon’s Castle.  Bacon, most likely, was never even on the property.

The house was owned by relatively few families through the years. The Warren family owned it for three generations, beginning in 1876.  They were related to my maternal grandmother, who was also a Warren.

The Warren family was one of the wealthiest in our area. My granddad, on the other hand, was a sharecropper. He and my grandma were parents to eleven children at the time he was asked by the Warrens to farm the land at Bacon’s Castle.

Prior to moving into the Castle House, my mom and her family had moved many times. She told me that Grandaddy was a good farmer, and other landowners were constantly making better offers to attempt to lure him to farm their land.

Once they moved into Bacon’s Castle, they remained there for nearly twenty years. Their youngest child, Sarah, was born in the Castle House. Aunt Sarah passed away two years ago, but she was always proud to have been born in that historic house.

Aunt Sarah’s future husband, Bill, during World War II

During the time my family lived there, the front of the house sported a double-decker wooden front porch. My mom said there was no door to the porch from the second story, but the children would climb through a window and sleep out on the porch during the summer.  This photo has been in our family for years, but I’m not sure of its origin. The 1665 portion of the house really isn’t visible in this picture; it’s hidden from view by the huge tree on the left.

And here’s my Aunt Lucille in front of the house, sitting in an Adirondack chair, most likely made by my daddy. (Aunt Lucille was always a snappy dresser.)

I’ve always loved this picture of my Mom and Grandma with my sisters. Maybe they were enjoying watermelon on a hot summer day?

I’m sure I was probably told why the family moved from the Castle House after all those years, but I don’t recall the reason. And sadly, I don’t think there’s anyone left that I can ask.

There’s much more family history relating to the Castle House, and I may share some of that from time to time. What I’m unable to put into words is the feeling that comes over me when I step foot on the land there. It’s a feeling that’s shared by my son, my sister, my nieces, and most likely, many of my cousins.  Even though none of us actually lived in the Castle House, the presence there of our family is so very strong.

I think the word that comes closest to describing it is….home.

fog over the Castle farmland (photo taken by Marshall)

Bacon’s Castle has been owned by Preservation Virginia since 1973, following the death of W.P. Warren. It is temporarily closed to the public.

Update: Bacon’s Castle is once again open to the public; hours are seasonal.

32 responses to “My Family At Bacon’s Castle

  1. What a wonderful story and isn’t it great you have pictures from “the day” to accompany it. The house certainly has a lot of memories for you I’m sure and just think of all the “spirits” that haunt the halls from so many years of existence! That shot of the Castle’s farmland that Marshall took is spectacular. Thanks for sharing – would love to hear more…..


  2. Thanks for sharing your history. I know you are so proud of your ancestors and the Castle House. Great story.

  3. ..there is no feeling quite like the feeling of “home.”
    Thank you for sharing your story .. and photos .. with us! MJ

  4. Really enjoyed this post about our “home”…and, yes, we were eating watermelon on a hot summer day sitting on that settee. With no a/c, everyone spent a lot more time outside then than they do now!!

  5. Such a rich, loving history of family beautifully shared. Thank you for this, Dianna. It’s so interesting!

  6. I love old pictures….especially ones that have a story in them. Thanks for sharing your family history with us!

  7. Wonderful story and wonderful pictures to go with. That is a wonderful photo of you all outside; I can just imagine the video…there’s so much action in it. Thank you for sharing.

  8. This is a great story, Diana! I loved seeing all the photos of the Castle House and your family. I know what you mean about the feeling of being “home.” I still feel the call of “home” when I drive by my dad’s old farm. And it’s been out of the family for over 30 years! I hope you’ll share more stories of Castle House with us. Have a great day!

  9. 1665?! I have never ever come close to seeing anything that old in person. Love your well written family story (so interesting) and I love that house – Please keep us updated on its renovations.
    Have a beautiful Monday.

  10. I love old photos especially when they come with a story. How wonderful that you know so much about your family history. Very intriguing that it includes this old castle. Thanks for sharing!

  11. I love the old pictures and the story to go with them. My family on my dad’s side are farmers that moved to PA from Germany. Our family used a piece of my Great Grandfathers land to grow all our own vegetables. I hated picking weeds but loved harvest time!

  12. i think it is remarkable that you have such strong ties to this place, and that it is being preserved and shall remain for many years to come.

  13. Excellent !! I’m sure I’ve seen all these photos, but it’s great to see them displayed with the family history stories, too .. thanks for including my “back 40” pic, & I’m looking forward to *future* Castle posts 😉

  14. Your Aunt Lucille looks very snappy indeed! My Aunt Loretta once wore a feather boa to a wedding.


  16. I would love to come visit when it opens back up to the public! I love doing stuff like that. There are a lot of neat little places here…. especially in Montgomery, AL… a lot of civil rights history… Tuskegee airmen museum… can’t wait until my little man is old enough to enjoy learning about history! I love it!!

  17. This was a great story!! Maybe someday you will run across someone who knows more to tell you about the house and grounds. Aren’t you lucky to have the photos!!

  18. Shirley Matthews Dunn

    What a wonderful family history you have with Bacon’s Castle. I think i have told you before but when we were going to school I had no ideal you were connected to such great history. Thanks for sharing it is so interesting.

  19. Thanks for sharing that, Dianne. Really nice story

  20. I love this Dianna. I know the feeling you are talking about. It is like everything there speaks to you through the cells of your very being. You’ve told this beautifully. We’ll be sure to check it out next time we come close to Bacon’s Castle.

  21. It must be wonderful to have such a direct connection to a historical place.
    Bacon Castle is the home your family’s heart. I love your historical narrative. Your photos are treasures. Thanks so much for sharing this special part of your heart. 🙂

  22. Very interesting history, Dianna. The photos are wonderful, and Marshall’s photo is beautiful.

  23. This gives me the chills! I really enjoyed this post and learning a bit of history about such a neat piece of property. I know why you get that “feeling” when you’re on the property, too – surely your ancestors spirits are there 🙂

  24. This is amazing! Thanks for gathering the photos and telling your story!

  25. Dianne such a lovely tribute. I have lots of pictures and stories to share with you. I found a book of personal stories and paintings that Mom did of her memories of living in the Castle House. And just last week Dee found a sketchbook of paintings Mom did. I still have such a hard time dealing with her death. Thanks for putting into words what is and was so important to our family. May they all rest in peace and know we love and remember them and the values they placed in our hearts..

  26. I sure find this interesting…what a place that must have been to live at!

  27. What a lovely post! And you know I enjoy the family history along with the actual history of Bacon’s Castle! So very interesting!

  28. I loved hearing your story, and Marshall got a great photo of the property.

  29. Dianna what a great story of your family’s history at Bacon’s Castle. I enjoyed all the old pictures and I am thinking Aunt Lucille could have been a lot of fun! The picture of your Mom and Grandma with your sisters makes me smile-looks to me that there was someone who knew how to put a camera to good use in that shot. I too love Marshall’e shot of the field/pasture with the white fencing. Glad it is being preserved and that must make you feel good too!

  30. Just today I’ve had the time to read your Bacon’s Castle posts. Such rich heritage and so fascinating, Dianna! I know exactly that feeling you and your relatives experience when you step onto that piece of ground. I experienced it myself on the property which had been in my dad’s family for well over 100 years. And that’s why I was so overwhelmed with emotion when my sisters and I sold that property after Dad’s death. I still long to step foot on that land. Home has strong ties, doesn’t it?

  31. I visited “Bacon’s Castle” as a child and again as an adult during some restoration in 1998. It stays with you for sure. I actually found your story via google because it was on my mind and I’ve been longing to go back so I looked it up. Love your story and your photos are amazing!

  32. First off I would like to thank you for you posts on your Grandaddy.
    I have been researching my family history for the last few weeks. Due to living halfway across the country and other reasons, I barely know anything about my family’s history.
    I was excited to read about my Great-Grandaddy on several pages of your blog. It brought to life a family I had never really known! According to a 1940 Census, my grandfather, Stanley, was a farm laborer. I think it’s pretty safe to say that since he was living with his father/ your grandaddy at Bacon’s Castle, he more than likely was working with his dad.
    Today they are reenacting Bacon’s Rebellion, but sadly I’m halfway crossed the country in another time zone and have to work tomorrow. 😦

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