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Friday, May 9, 2014

JAMESTOWN   ~   JAMESTOWNE

In the 21st Century

This May 13th is the 407th anniversary of the founding of Jamestowne, our country’s first permanent English settlement. Our capitalist society, our nation’s democracy, and the precepts of our Constitution were birthed here, on this island in the James River in Southeastern Virginia. In this post I will give you a brief tour of Jamestown Settlement and Historic Jamestowne, two living history museums that detail the history of Jamestowne and provide a visual experience for people of all ages. A free shuttle runs between the two locations and there is ample free parking in both places. Naturally, both sites have a gift shop with items to please all. There are numerous books of interest for all ages for those of us who devour history.


The entrance to Jamestown Settlement
Jamestown Settlement is run by both the state of Virginia and the Colonial National Historical Park at Jamestown. At the Settlement, there is a video presentation and 30,000 square ft. of exhibit space made up of several galleries that provides a wealth of visual and written information about the origins and the development of the colony. Here, we learn more about the three ethnic groups that
make up Jamestown, the English, Native
Native American Village Scene
American, and African. From the museum, one can go outside and literally feel like you are back in the seventeenth century as you walk through a reconstructed Indian village, explore their dwellings and speak with the interpreters. Take a short walk down to the pier where you will find three ships of different sizes, reconstructed to look like the original ships that brought 144 men and boys here; the Godspeed, the Susan Constant, and the
The Susan Constant
(the largest of the three ships)
 Discovery. One’s first impression of these vessels is how much courage it took to travel on these small, smaller, and tiny ships across the
Atlantic. After boarding and wandering through the ships, we walk back up through an example of the colonist’s agricultural area into the reconstructed fortified area where their homes, church and buildings are located. Some of the structures have thatched roofs and it is a
Building with thatched roof
fascinating treat to be there when the re-thatching occurs. Interpreters can be found throughout this mock up village explaining their various occupations from burning and scraping out a tree log to make a canoe to demonstrating how the firearms of that era were used.


Diagram of
Historic Jamestowne site
Historic Jamestowne is only a short ride by car or shuttle bus from Jamestown Settlement is. It is run by both Preservation Virginia and the National Park Service. A land bridge takes us to the island. After entering through the Visitor’s Center, one will travel over a walking bridge through a swampy area to a vast open portion of the island looking out to the James River. The original
Jamestowne Memorial Church
triangular shaped wooden fort constructed near the water’s edge no longer exists but archaeological digs over many years have located the site of the original fort as well as many of the homes, buildings, and the church. The
Memorial Church was built in 1907 gives a visitor an idea of what the original church probably looked like. Not far from
Pocahontas
there is a lovely statue of Pocahontas created for the 300th anniversary celebration of Jamestowne. A large statue of Captain John Smith looking out to the
James River is located nearby.
Captain John Smith

Take a walk outside the area of the original fort through an area called New Towne and you will see reconstructed brick outlines of the foundations of buildings discovered during continuing excavations.

Entrance to
the Archaearium
A visit to Historic Jamestowne would not be complete without visiting the Archaearium Archaeology Museum which houses artifacts and tells the story of Jamestowne via some fascinating modern technology.

Before or after viewing the actual site, one can take a detour to visit the Jamestown Glasshouse where one can see demonstrations of glassblowing and learn about one of the colony’s first industries that began in 1608 by Polish and German artisans. Visitors can also bike or drive around the entire island.
 

I remember how excited I was to be living here in 2007, when so many people from around the country and world came to share in the 400th anniversary year celebration. It was a real treat to attend the 400th celebration at Jamestown.  And like they did fifty years earlier, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip stayed at the Williamsburg Inn and attended many of the festivities in Jamestown and Williamsburg.

Williamsburg Fife & Drum Corps
Being an unapologetic anglophile, I wasn’t going to miss the chance to see the Queen. A girlfriend and I stood on Duke of Gloucester Street in Williamsburg with many of our neighbors as Williamsburg’s finest, the members of Williamsburg Fife and Drum Corps led the parade of carriages that would take
Queen Elizabeth & Prince Philip
the royal couple and many other dignitaries to their luncheon. There was such joy and unity this day with the empire we fought so long and hard to separate from 400 years earlier.

Come back and view my post in July to learn the fascinating history of Jamestowne.
You can learn more about the two sites at:



See my earlier post for the true story of Pocahontas http://colonialquills.blogspot.com/search/label/Pocahontas

3 comments:

  1. It is so great living here, Janet, because of all these treasures right at our fingertips! We are so spoiled, aren't we! Lovely article!

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  2. Thanks Carrie. I never get tired of poking around this area.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It's been a long time since I visited Jamestown and Colonial Williamsburg, and this article reminds me that I need to get back there. Some day! Thank you so much, Janet!

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