Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Magical Day Tour in Cavan, Ireland

One of the highlights of our visit to County Cavan, Ireland was our tour day with Ross Walsh of Breifne Tours. Actually, Ross is Breifne Tours and he was an absolute delight to travel with. He listened to what we wanted and made it happen.

Ross picked us up at the Farnham Estate outside Cavan City at the agreed upon time and our adventure began. Before we left the United States, Ross sent us a brochure with possible places that we might want to visit. We did actually visit a few of them but the main reason we wanted to have a guided tour was so that we could go to the townland that was the home to Kathy’s ancestors.

Ross brought us to what was the post office in this tiny little townland and then to the church where the family or at least relatives would have worshipped. We got out and walked around the cemetery and got the feel of what this townland was like. In all honesty, it probably hasn’t changed a whole lot since her ancestor left to come to America.

Our next stop was Cloughoughter Castle. It is located on an island in Lough Oughter. It was most likely built in the 11th century by William de Lacy who was the Lord of Meath. It was, however, the stronghold of the O’Reilly’s (O’Raghallaigh) who were the lords of East Breifne. It is best remembered as the place where Irish general Owen Roe O’Neill died in 1649 and was the last Irish Garrison to surrender to Cromwell in 1653.

It is a very photogenic location, unfortunately the weather decided not to cooperate and our photos are not as spectacular as they should be. You do need to be able to walk on uneven ground since you park a little distance away and walk in. If you like to see historic ruins this will fit the bill nicely.  

We headed off to see a thatched roof cottage. We told Ross we would like to see one or at least Kathy wanted to see one. I have seen my share of thatched cottages in England. He took us to an art cooperative which is located in as pretty a cottage as anyone could wish for. Another item off the bucket list.

St Keiran’s Well was our next stop. It is one of the holiest wells in Ireland and dates back to pagan times. It is a steep climb up to the actual shrine, we felt a bit like mountain goats. I did get some of the water to bless myself since it seemed like the right thing to do.

By this time I was getting peckish so we headed to Kells to see the remains of the abbey and to have a bit of lunch. Be aware that meals and even meal stops are not scheduled and I laughingly told Ross he had a cast-iron bladder.

The Abbey at Kells was where the famous Book of Kells was created. Not much is left but the round tower is visible from a distance and it is located within the grounds of a Church of Ireland Church.

We went into the Herdfort Arms Hotel to the Therese Café and had a simple Carvery lunch cafeteria style. I had a bowl of great soup with a grainy roll and Pavlova for dessert, this army travels on its stomach!!

Our next stop was a folly. It is a great lighthouse which when you consider how far away the ocean is, makes you realize why it is a folly. We had seen it as we drove through Kells headed for the Farnham Estate and were curious to see it.

Knowing that Kathy’s Irish Cavan family name was Sheridan, Ross took us the ancestral family home of General Richard Sheridan. It is rather ramshackle these days but Kathy was delighted and even chose to risk her life by going inside. Since this is private property that wasn’t the best idea but what the heck, it is not like we were ever coming back here!!

Ross next suggested that we go to see some of the ancient court tombs. Trust me when I tell you, we would never have found the one he took us to, it is definitely on a less than B Road. Fascinating stuff but again, you need to be able to go over fences and walk on very uneven ground, not for the faint of heart.

Our last stop of the day was at twilight at the magnificent Abbey ruin at Drumlane. We spent quite a while walking through the ruins but we were equally as fascinated by the rather unique cows that were pastured along the trail we walked to get into the ruin.

By now we were quite exhausted, it had been a long day
jam-packed with all the things we wanted to do and a few that Ross thought we should see and it was one of the most perfect days I have ever spent in Ireland.

I do know one thing, I would never go back to Cavan without hiring Ross for at least one day of touring if not more. He knows the area well and can without doubt, get you to twice as many places in one day as you could on your own. Add to that his charm and sense of humor and you understand why I am highly recommending that you make your plans with Ross early to guarantee that he will be available for your visit. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Blackfriars Theatre Staunton, Va.

The American Shakespeare Center is located in Stanton, Va. right next door to the Stonewall Jackson Hotel. They have been around for 25 years and have brought some amazing performances both to the stage at the Blackfriars Playhouse and on the road. The playhouse itself opened its doors in 2001 and is a replica of the original Blackfriars Playhouse from the time of William Shakespeare.

No trip to Staunton is complete without a visit to the playhouse and if you have the time. Try to arrange to take the playhouse tour. In 2014 the cost is $7 for adults and the tour takes about an hour. Our tour was conducted by Lia an ASC Education Artist. In the winter it takes place at 2pm be sure to check their website for times and dates.

The tour begins outdoors in front of the building where you will learn about the history of this playhouse and also about the original. We learned about the history of the ASC and also what it took to get where they are. Among the many interesting facts we learned was that if you hear an actor saying “prithee” it means they have forgotten their next line and someone will feed it to them.

Back indoors you will be introduced to the current productions and cast. There are two companies, one that plays at the playhouse and one that goes on the road. Then comes the best part, you get to tour through the back of the house. The tour includes the costume department and props. You then get to walk out onto the stage and take as many pictures as you would like. Since this is not allowed during productions, it is the only way to get photos.

It is a very informative and enjoyable way to spend an hour and while you are there be sure to check out the gift shop and get tickets to a show if possible.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Flashback Thursday: The Rising Sun Tavern Fredericksburg

The Rising Sun Tavern in Fredericksburg, Va. 
is a surprisingly entertaining stop. You can’t eat here so plan your lunch at a different time. The house was originally built by George Washington’s brother Charles in 1760. He lived here for 20 years before moving to Charlestown, West Virginia. It was the second family who owned it who turned it into a tavern.

You must tour the tavern with a guide. The good news is the tours are continuous so you can join in at any time and just continue on to pick up anything you might have missed. This is one of the funniest and interesting tours we have ever taken. We learned all about what it would have been like in a tavern in 1790 or so. Our costumed tour guide tells us that she would wear a mob cap to keep her brain from freezing

We begin our tour in the office. None of the furniture in the building is original, it is only of the period. The innkeeper is also the postmaster. In this time period the sender didn’t pay for the mail, the receiver did. The postmaster would have opened it to see how important it was, so much for privacy. 

Common men slept with their boots on, gentlemen took them off, or rather a convenient wench or bootjack removed them. The staff would then take the boots to clean. The boots were identical so the right boot was placed standing up and the left boot upside down, thus getting off on the right foot in the morning. Your boots were returned to you when you paid your bill.

Our next stop is the taproom where no self-respecting woman of this period was allowed to venture. Women had their own separate ladies retiring room. Not much fun to be had there, there was a bible, the Book of Common Prayer, and a woman’s necessary chair (men had to use the privy). In the taproom the men could play draughts or checkers. It became known as the bar room because the alcohol and glasses were kept behind bars to prevent breakage.

Beyond visiting the building itself and seeing the guest rooms, which I have to admit were quite an eye opener. If you were rich you got to have your own room, most people were not rich and they slept in a common room and it was pretty darn common.

Many of the terms we use today have their origins in the tavern. Patrons were given a free chew of tobacco with their meals and told "don’t bite off more than you can chew." Mind your P’s & Q’s meant keep track of your pints and quarts. A two-fisted drinker was drinking from a stirrup cup with two handles and drinking like a fish meant whoever saw the fish on the bottom of the drink bought the next round. 

These and many more entertaining facts will keep smiling throughout your entire tour of The Rising Sun Tavern

For more reading about visiting Fredericksburg, Va these other posts may be of interest. . 

Mary Washington House

Ferry Farm

Chatham Manor 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Jamestown Settlement Historic Trade Fair on June 4 &5


Jamestown Settlement will hold a “Historic Trades Fair” on Saturday and Sunday, June 4 and 5, showcasing a variety of historical trades and crafts, from flint-knapping, blacksmithing and leatherwork to spinning, quillwork and pottery. Crafts and wares also will be available for purchase. 
From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the weekend event will take place in conjunction with the opening weekend of the Jamestown Settlement special exhibition, “Bartering for a Continent: How Anglo-Indian Trade Shaped America,” June 4 through December 10. The six-month exhibition highlights trade interactions between American Indian and English colonists and the development of a new world of exchange in goods and commodities across the North American continent. 

The Historic Trades Fair will feature craftspeople demonstrating more than a dozen trades on the museum’s mall and in outdoor living-history areas. 

Among the trades, the Southeast Virginia Primitive Skills Group will show techniques in flint-knapping, native coil pottery and broom-weaving, and present interpretive demonstrations on preparing and tanning animal hides and fire-starting.  Artisan Duane Baldwin will display quillwork, a traditional American Indian art using quills of porcupines or birds to embellish cloth, and show styles in wrapping and embroidery. 

Hand woodworking techniques common in the 17th to 19th centuries will be shown by Blood and Sawdust, a group of craftspeople using wedges, axes, drawknives and froes to make rough items such as shingles, clapboards, small boards for joinery, and benches. They also will use bench tools, including handsaws, planes and braces, to create finished parts. 

Period and modern blacksmithing methods will be presented by Hollowing Creek Forge LLC and the Central Virginia and Tidewater blacksmith guilds, and a variety of hand-forged items will be available for purchase. Fort Vause Outfitters will demonstrate and sell leatherwork.  Western Maryland Hornmacher will make scrimshaw to decorate powder horns and sell powder horns along with firearm tools, including turn screws, vent picks, loading blocks and powder measurers. 

K.P. Knitcraft will demonstrate the use of spinning wheels, a modern upright and classic “Sleeping Beauty” style, as well as a drop spindle and knitting.  The Travelling Cookshop and Sutlery will make pottery and sell examples of medieval pottery and ceramic household goods. 

Visitors can see the progression in portraiture with demonstrations by Silhouettes By Hand of 18th-century silhouettes and by Ronald S. Carnegie Wet-Plate Photographer showing the 19th-century technique of making photographic images on glass or aluminum plates. Visitors also can have their own portraits captured for purchase. 

Throughout the day in the museum’s outdoor living-history areas, visitors can take part in a variety of trade-related activities.  In the re-created Powhatan Indian village, historical interpreters will burn and scrape a log canoe, a vessel used to travel along the waterways to trade and transport goods.  At the ships’ pier, visitors can learn about the sailor’s trade of sewing and repairing ship sails.  In the re-created colonial fort, historical interpreters will show the process of smelting iron from ore in an iron bloomery from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and, on Sunday, demonstrate armor-making. 

Jamestown Settlement, located at Route 31 and the Colonial Parkway (2110 Jamestown Road), is a living-history museum of 17th-century Virginia, with expansive gallery exhibits and outdoor re-creations of a Powhatan Indian village, the three ships that brought America’s first permanent English colonists to Virginia in 1607, and a colonial fort.  The special event is included with Jamestown Settlement admission: $17.00 for adults, $8.00 for ages 6 through 12, and free for children under 6.  

Residents of James City County, York County and the City of Williamsburg, including College of William and Mary students, receive complimentary admission with proof of residency. For more information, visit www.historyisfun.org or call (888) 593-4682 toll-free or (757) 253-4838.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Vienna: The Hofburg Palace

The Hofburg Palace is the former home of the Austrian Royal Family. The oldest part of the building dates from the 16th century. There are several different parts of the palace that can be visited. The Chapel is home to the Vienna Boys Choir . To see them perform you need special tickets and these should be procured in advance.

The Hofburg is open every day and the cost of admission is 12.90 Euros with audio guide. For another 3 Euros, you can take a guided tour.


The Royal Apartments are dedicated to the memory of Emperor Franz Josef and his wife, the Empress Elizabeth "Sisi". Their portraits by the famed artist Franz Xavier Winterhalter are in the Grand Salon. Sisi is gorgeous in a white ball gown with stars in her hair and Franz Josef is dressed in a red and white military uniform. 

Another Winterhalter portrait of Sisi in located in the Emperor's study which is informal with her very long hair hanging loose and this is said to be the emperor's favorite picture of his wife. Since she spent a great deal of time away from him, it must have been cold comfort. 

We had a headphone tour of the apartments which was quite interesting. As you begin the tour there is a large genealogy chart so that you can try to figure out who some of the people are. The rooms are of impressive size and the decorations are luxurious but there is an underlying sadness here for a time that has past and will never return.

One of the early rooms has lots of informal childhood pictures that give a pretty good idea of the kind of life the imperial children led. Some of their toys have been preserved. In Sisi's room, her exercise equipment is still there waiting for her and we learned that she perhaps was one of the early anorexics. She was obsessed with keeping her figure and almost never ate. This caused problems at dinner parties where guests were not allowed to eat after the empress or emperor had finished, guests soon learned to eat before they came to a dinner party at the palace.

We got to walk through their personal rooms as well as the formal rooms and the dining room was especially attractive, set up for a small family dinner.


To really have any understanding of the immense wealth of the Hofburg family you need to walk through the Imperial Silver and China Collection. This can be done on a combination ticket with the Imperial Apartments and it is also included on the headphone tour. Case after case of the most phenomenal Meissen, Sevres, a completely gilt set by the Vienna Porcelain, a dessert set by Minton, an Imari set, and a set of dishes in a pattern called Miramare which Maximilian had commissioned for his ill-fated court in Mexico will overwhelm your senses.

A whole wall is dedicated to copper dessert molds, a room full of exquisite table linens, cases of silver and gold service pieces and the magnificent Milan table piece, which is huge. There is the Sevres porcelain that was a gift to Empress Maria Theresa from Louis XV and the outstanding Vermeil set which has service for 140 people. 

On a more normal note an entire pantry filled with blue transferware and pink lusterware which was beautiful, practical and much more to my taste. It's easy to get glutted here on the sheer extravagance of it all. Who would have thought that you could say "enough of the gold already"?

The photos used in this article are not my own, I can't seem to locate mine but rest assured I have visited this location. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Photo Friday: My London

I love London. Anyone who knows me knows that it is my favorite city in the world. I have written about all of our adventures or at least some of them.These pictures are from January 2012 so if they seem a bit monotone that is why. Let's face it, January is pretty gray no matter where you are and London is no exception.
St Martin in the Field Church

Nelson Column on Trafalgar Square

Iconic London tour buses

A rather grainy Big Ben

Al and I posing outside the Crypt restaurant at St Martin in the Field

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Flashback Thursday: Mary Washington House Fredericksburg, Va

Fredericksburg, Va. has a strong connection to the Washington family. The Mary Washington House was the home of George Washington's mother for many years. 

Mary Ball was no wilting flower even though as a young woman she had been known as the Rose of Epping Forest. She married a widower, Augustine Washington 14 years her senior when she was 23. At his death, 12 years later, her 11-year-old son George inherited Ferry Farm. She remained there running the farm for 29 years. It was only at the importuning of George that in 1772 she allowed him to buy her a house in Fredericksburg and she moved there to be closer to her only daughter Betty Fielding.

In an age where women were encouraged and expected to remarry quickly Mary was a standout, not only did she not remarry quickly, she never remarried. She was financially independent through inheritances from both her parents and brother and she cherished that independence.

The house that George purchased for her was a two room cottage on a half acre of land. He purchased an additional half acre of land, added the porch and greatly increased the size of the house. When Mary moved from Ferry Farm, she brought with her a cow, a dog, two horses, and six servants. Actually they were six slaves and at her death she still had six slaves which she willed to members of her family.

The Mary Washington House must be visited on a guided tour, and since it was a rainy day they escorted us to the rear veranda overlooking the garden to await the beginning of our tour. The garden was redone in the late 1960s to be an English Garden. The sundial in the garden made of Acquia stone belonged to Mary and came with her from Ferry Farm.

After Mary died in 1789 her daughter Betty held a public auction to sell the items in the house. The list of the items auctioned still exists and it has help the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities identify items to be acquired for the house. Some things have been donated back to the house and some have been purchased and some are on loan. Everything else is of the period.

After Mary’s death the house was turned into a school for boys, and the Association purchased the house in 1890 to keep it from being dismantled and taken to the St. Louis World’s Fair for $4,050. It took 40 years to open it as a museum.

We begin our tour in the parlor where we are shown the chair rail and the crown molding made in the candle and flame pattern by indentured servants. Mary’s original teapot is in the parlor. Upstairs there is a case of personal items as well as the Washington family genealogy.

The most historic room in the house is Mary’s bedroom. George came here to get her blessing shortly after he was elected president and shortly before she died. She was too sick to understand the significance. In that room be sure to look for her "very best dressing glass ".

I could not find my photos of this part of our trip. This photo is from Wikipedia  "Closeup of Mary Washington House, Fredericksburg, VA IMG 3997" by Billy Hathorn - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Closeup_of_Mary_Washington_House,_Fredericksburg,_VA_IMG_3997.JPG#/media/File:Closeup_of_Mary_Washington_House,_Fredericksburg,_VA_IMG_3997.JPG

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Reasons to Choose McHenry County Illinois for Vacation

Visit Hebron, Alden & Harvard:
Small Illinois Towns Known
for Antiques, Basketball, Milk

McHENRY COUNTY, ILL. - Tucked away in the northwest corner of McHenry County, just a few miles south of the Wisconsin state line, are three interesting little towns well worth visiting for a relaxing weekend road trip.


First settled by farmers in 1836, Hebron was named by the first white woman settler in the area. Friends and neighbors would gather at her house on Sundays to share a meal and sing. One of their favorites was the hymn "Old Hebron", and they decided it would be a good name for their community. Today, the population is 1,215.

BASKETBALL: Near the center of town is a water tower painted to look like a basketball.  That's because in 1952, the Hebron-Alden High School basketball team of strapping young farm boys beat out the competition from much larger Illinois schools to win the state basketball championship. Back then, the high school's total enrollment was only 98, and all the schools in Illinois played in one tournament, no matter how big or small they were. It was quite an accomplishment; you can ask just about any one in town, and they'll tell you all about it!

ANTIQUES: Today, in an era when antique shops are becoming few and far between, Hebron has an "Antique & Specialty District" with several antique shops in a two-block stretch, including Abundance Antiques & Design, Grampy's Antique & Resale Shops, Lloyd & Leota's Antiques & Restoration and Prairie Avenue Antiques & Tack Exchange.

FOOD: Hebron has good eats, too.  In the shadow of the watertower is The Dari, dishing up soft-serve cones, sundaes and shakes, plus burgers, hot dogs and sandwiches from March through November. Check out the "little lending library" and innovative straw-bale garden. Harts Saloon bakes brick oven pizza, and Hoops Sports Bar & Grill serves handmade burgers and celebrates the town's basketball heritage. On  the north edge of town is Crandall's, known for decades for their "World-Famous All-You-Can-Eat Broasted Chicken" plus a Friday fish fry and Sunday brunch (closed Mondays).

FARM MARKETS: Von Bergen's Country Market is just east of Hebron, growing and selling veggies, fruit, sweet corn, tomatoes, pumpkins and fall decorations from July through November since 1965. There's a children's play area and farm animals to visit, and Von Bergen's hosts an antique tractor and plow day in September. www.vonbergens.com.  Royal Oak Farm Orchard is northwest of Hebron, with thousands of apple trees, plus raspberries, honey, cider, pie, playground, petting zoo, wagon rides, carousel, full-service restaurant, gift shop and the nation's only "apple maze". You can pick your own apples from August into November or buy pre-picked fruit.www.royaloakfarmorchard.com.   


Alden, between Hebron and Harvard, is so small, there aren't any population statistics.  But, it has two interesting stores, kitty-corner from each other smack-dab in the center of town at the four-way stop. Both are called Alden Resale, and carry liquidated and nearly-new contemporary furniture, along with some antiques. The "big store" has 6,000 square feet of mostly furniture, while the "small store" is stocked with smaller furniture, dishes and collectibles. Open daily. www.aldenresale.net.


Harvard was named for --you guessed it!-- Harvard, Mass. The town got its start in 1856 with a train depot and hotel, when the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad extended service from Cary, Ill., to Janesville, Wis. It eventually became the epicenter of a large empire of dairy farms.  By WW II, those farms, along with seven dairy plants, were producing more milk than anywhere else in the nation, and Harvard became known as "Dairy Capital of the World". The area is still dairy country, and the population is about 9,500. The Metra commuter train from Chicago stops at the train depot, within walking distance of many points of interest. www.MetraRail.com

MILK DAYS: This June 2-5, Harvard celebrates the dairy industry with the 75th Annual Milk Days Festival, featuring dairy cows, antique tractors, dairy princesses, carnival rides, contests, demonstrations, food, fireworks and a parade on the main street, which is whitewashed and re-named the "Milky Way" www.MilkDays.com.  

FARM MARKETS: Just outside Harvard is Twin Garden Farms, growing and selling Mirai sweet corn, a special variety of corn that is so sweet and tender, you can eat it raw, right off the cob. It's sold at area farmer's markets and on the farm daily during growing season, usually late July through September. They also sell seeds online. www.twingardenfarms.com. Northwest of town at Ben's Christmas Tree Farm, you can cut your own fresh tree and enjoy horse-drawn wagon rides from Thanksgiving weekend through the weekend before Christmas. www.benstreefarm.com.

SHOPPING & ART: Just a few blocks off the main street is an enormous, beautiful ivy-covered circa 1883 brick building with a roof full of skylights. Once home to the Starline Factory, which manufactured farming equipment, today it's been re-purposed to house a retail store, art gallery, artists' studios, a pub, an event center and several small offices. Steel Heart Ltd. began nearly 20 years ago as the dream of a young Polish couple who design, build and import steel and stone garden accessories: gazebos, arbors, trellis, armillaries, tables, benches, chandeliers, fences, gates, lanterns and more. Today they sell their creations at wholesale prices to the public and select local businesses. www.steelheartltd.com Starline Gallery & Studios showcases the works of more than 25 area artists and hosts Fourth Friday Art Shows with refreshments and and music from 6 to 9 p.m. on the fourth Friday of each month. The Stanchion Pub serves lunch and dinner Thursdays through Saturdays. Sunlight streams through the skylights in the spacious event center for weddings, banquets and private parties for up to 500.www.starlinefactory.com.   

FOOD: Harvard is large enough to have lots of restaurants, but three merit special mention. Just off State Line Road north of town is Big Foot Inn, named for a Potawatomie chief and serving lunch and dinner daily. Since 1946, it's been featuring a Friday fish fry, Saturday prime rib and Sunday brunch. South of town, Heritage House is known for German specialties such as sauerbraten, schnitzel and strudel, plus steaks and seafood, serving dinner Wednesday-Sunday, plus Sunday lunch. In downtown Harvard since 1943,Swiss Maid Bakery makes scrumptious cookies, pies, cakes, pastries, muffins and more. It began when the Stricker family immigrated to Chicago and opened a bakery in the 1920's; today the fifth generation continues the tradition. The doors are open from early morning to 6 pm, Tuesday-Saturday.

ACCOMMODATIONS: Harvard has three bed and breakfasts. Crane Hollow B&B is a contemporary house overlooking a small lake on 40 acres, with two guest rooms. www.cranehollow.com. Morning Glory B&B is a renovated century-old farmhouse on five acres, with two guest rooms. 815-943-5764.Ravenstone Castle B&B is a contemporary castle complete with towers, turrets and gargoyles, built by a family out of their love for attending Renaissance fairs. It has three guest rooms and also hosts teas and special events. www.ravenstonecastle.com.


McHenry County is just an hour's drive northwest of Chicago, bordered on the north by Wisconsin, and on the south by I-90. The Fox River winds down from the Chain of Lakes through the towns on the eastern side of the county, while country roads meander the western side. For visitor information, including links to attractions and lodging and dining options throughout McHenry County, go to  www.VisitMcHenryCounty.com or phone 815-893-6280. Follow on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Residenz Palace Munich Germany Oppulence taken to another level

The Residenz Palace in Munich is a complex of immense size. It was begun in the 14th century and it has been added to over the centuries. It was home to generations of the Wittelsbach family as Dukes, Electors and Kings of Bavaria. In addition to the two museums, the Residenz houses a theatre, a church, gardens and more.

You may begin your visit in the Treasury Museum which has about a thousand years of treasure. Among the vast amount of treasures is the crown of Anne of Bohemia who was the 1st wife of King Richard II of England. An unbelievable St George and the Dragon which is enameled gold covered with emeralds, rubies, diamonds and pearls will catch your eye as will a 14th century Jewish ceremonial wedding ring and a bowl designed by Hans Holbein that was in the Tower of London until 1649. 

Anne of Bohemia's Crown

A large, carved wooden rosary with beads about the size of a Faberge egg with the mysteries carved inside is just one of the magnificent items on display. The mantle of the Kings of Bavaria, a whole room of religious items including ivory crucifixes, gold chalices, lots of enamel and lots of gems continues the theme. A garter from the English Order of the Garter that belonged to the winter king, Prince Rupert's father and also the ceremonial crown of the kings of Bavaria made in France in 1806 are also on display.
Crown of the Kings of Bavaria
One whole room is filled with crowns, orbs, scepters and 2 cases packed with medals encrusted with every imaginable gem. And this was just the treasury. By now you will be suffering from treasure overload. I would suggest that if you want to retain any sanity you take a break and have lunch or go shopping or do something besides a museum because the Residenz itself can be quite overwhelming.
Residenze By Raphael Fetzer, Pheraph -
The Residenz Palace has more than 100 rooms, including a magnificent throne room, an ancestral gallery of pictures, rooms of porcelain, silver and magnificent furniture. Depending on your interest, this can take hours to see in total. One of the first things that you encounter is a magnificent hall of mirrors. It is done with off white and gold trim, beautiful and gaudy at the same time. Because the palace was built over such a long period of time you will see many different architectural styles represented here.

It is really hard to believe looking at the Palace today, that it was extensively bombed during World War II. Most of Munich was destroyed by allied bombing. The reconstruction work on the Palace began almost immediately and great efforts were made to be sure that not only the building was rebuilt but that the treasures were replaced in the location they would have been before the war.

Visiting a palace museum of this size takes quite a while and can seem endless. This is almost too much of a good thing, almost but not quite.

Allow half a day for touring the Residenz Museum and Treasury.

This article is written from personal experience but the photos are not my own.  

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Flashback Thursday: Visiting the Stonewall Jackson Shrine

We were on the road having left Fredericksburg
heading to our next stop in Richmond, when I saw the sign for the Stonewall Jackson Shrine. How could I pass that up? I had no idea what it was, but a shrine to a general had to be worth a detour. It actually is quite a detour, maybe 4 or 5 miles of back roads from where I saw the sign on.

We pulled up the long driveway and stopped to read the signs that were posted around the roundabout. I hadn’t really been aware of what an important stop this would turn out to be. The Stonewall Jackson Shrine is the farmhouse where the famous Confederate General died. It is owned by the National Park Service, which I always love because it keeps things more natural.

A graduate of West Point, Thomas Jackson was teaching at the Virginia Military Institute at the beginning of the Civil War. He was made a brigadier general after the first battle at Manassas. It was here that he earned his nickname when General Bee declared, “There is Jackson standing like a stone wall.”

His prowess as a general made his fame grow to mythic proportion on both sides. He was loved and feared in equal parts by his men and his enemies. It was one of those horrible turns of fate that saw him be shot by friendly fire on May 2, 1863, at the Battle of Chancellorville. It was as it turned out a major turning point in the war. Hearing of his wound Robert E  Lee stated  "He has lost his left arm, but I have lost my right arm." 

It was not a fatal wound, and he was taken from the battlefield to a safe place to recuperate. His left arm had to be amputated and his severed limb was taken to be buried at the family cemetery of his chaplain, B. Tucker Lacy. Ultimately, it was pneumonia that took his life.

He had been taken to Guinea Station, and the farmhouse where he died was part of Thomas Chandler's plantation. It was an office building that had been used as a doctor's office by one of the sons of the house. This building was chosen over the main house because it was private and quiet and he would be able to rest after the long, hard ambulance ride. It is hard to even imagine today what a horror that ride must have been. His left arm had been amputated at the battlefield hospital, and it was 27 miles in a wagon over rutty dirt roads to the house. That alone would have killed a normal man. He survived for six excruciating days.

About 45 percent of the interior of the house is original. It is very poignant to see the bed and the original blanket that covered the general. His wife, Mary Anna, and his baby daughter, Julia, arrived to on May 7th. The tiny house must have been bursting at the seems with the doctor, the staff, and the family. There are only four or five rooms on the two floors, but still, this is one of the most emotional places we visited on this trip. He was an amazing man and his death was a death blow to the Confederacy. He was also a highly religious man whose last words reflect the duality of his personality.

"A few moments before he died, he cried out in his delirium, 'Order A.P. Hill to prepare for action! Pass the infantry to the front rapidly! Tell Major Hawks'—then stopped, leaving the sentence unfinished. Presently a smile of ineffable sweetness spread itself over his pale face, and he said quietly, and with an expression, as if of relief, 'Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.'"

Later in our trip, we visited the house he and his wife shared in Lexington while he was a teacher. I wish I had known more about him and his life before I visited the place he died.