Located Halfway Between Richmond
and Williamsburg, Off Scenic Route 5 in Charles City, Virginia, on a beautiful
spread of property, near the James River. From Williamsburg, travel west on Route
5 (John Tyler Memorial Hwy). Travel approximately 30 miles. Berkeley Entrance
is on the left.
Address: 12602 Harrison Landing Road, Charles City, Virginia 23030.
Web site berkeleyplantation.com * Toll Free: 1-888-466-6018
The Berkeley Plantation Mansion
is a large, 3 story, brick mansion built in the Georgian style by Benjamin Harrison
III, in 1726. It is the oldest 3-story brick house in Virginia. It is a wonderful
museum to visit; both inside the mansion and the extensive grounds. In 1790, Benjamin
Harrison VI at the direction of his friend and colleague, Thomas Jefferson, put
in the beautiful Adam
woodwork and the double arches of
the ‘Great Rooms’ himself. The rooms in Berkeley Plantation Mansion are furnished with a magnificent
collection of eighteenth century antiques.
The grounds are gorgeous, with
walkways to the river running through and around the five terraced gardens (dug
during the Revolutionary War) leading from the house to the James River. A small
woodland glade offers picturesque views of the grassy hills and the river.
plantation has quite a history. The land parcel it sits on was part of the 8,000
acre land grant given by England's King James I to the Berkeley Company in 1619,
with the plan to bring settlers to establish a colony and farm/settle the land.
Many claim that the first thanksgiving happened at this plantation on December
4, 1619 at the end of their first year here. The English who survived this first
year held a feast to thank the Lord for their bountiful harvest, with about 90
Indians joining the festivities, according to the letter of a distinguished professor
Dr. Burr who had come in September to visit them. This early settlement was abandoned
in 1622, when it was attacked by marauding Indians.
In 1636, a London merchant,
John Bland became the new owner, and lived there with his family. The Bland family
lost the plantation in 1676 when Giles Bland who was part of an insurrection,
was caught and hung by the British.
Benjamin Harrison III then bought the
property and built the existing Berkeley Plantation Mansion in 1726, a very handsome,
sturdy home, up to the challenge of both being the center of hospitality for every
President from Washington to Buchanan and enduring both the Revolutionary War,
the Civil War, and some years of neglect.
During the Civil War, General
McClellan used the plantation and the Berkeley Plantation Mansion as his headquarters
during the early years of the war, and President Lincoln visited him there. At
one point, there were 140,000 Union soldiers on the property. The cellar was used
as a holding cell for Confederate soldiers, and the rooms in the mansion were
used as a hospital. During the last years of the war and decades afterward, the
historic Berkeley Plantation Mansion was neglected and left to the elements. The
low point for the plantation mansion was being used as a barn for animals. For
several decades the mansion bravely stood, waiting to be adopted by someone. It
wasn't the state of Virginia or the federal government, but a private citizen who purchased the plantation and a new era of restoration and rebirth began.
50 years after the Civil War, a former 14 year old drummer boy, John Jamieson,
who had seen the plantation while stationed there in 1862, came back and bought
this unique fixer-upper opportunity, really in need of tender, loving care. In
1927, his son Mac Jamieson and his wife Grace moved into the Berkeley Plantation
Mansion, fell in love with the place and dedicated energy and funds to restore
the Berkeley Plantation Mansion to its original, glorious state, which took awhile
Today, it is open to the public who can take the house tour or the
vast grounds tour, which includes flower gardens and the family cemetery. Outdoor
weddings and receptions and special events are held in areas around the grounds,
all the way down to the river.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS:
In 1744, there was a terrible accident in one of the upstairs rooms.
a stormy evening in 1744, William Harrison IV and two of his daughters were trying
to shut a window in a bedroom which overlooks the James River. A fluke bolt of
lightening came through the window and struck all three of them killing them,
but missed Harrison's infant son, Benjamin Harrison V, who was being held by one
of the daughters. The baby survived, thanks to a physician who happened to be
a dinner guest. Benjamin grew to be an important leader and a signer of the Declaration
of Independence, and was the father and grandfather of two United States Presidents;
William Henry Harrison (9th) and Benjamin Harrison (23rd).
During the Civil
War, the mansion was used as a Union hospital, and not everyone who went in came
Mac and Grace loved The Berkeley Plantation Mansion, and restored
and renovated not only the mansion itself, but also restored the vast grounds.
Attic: Unknown entity
Footsteps are heard pacing
around the attic when no one is there.
of one of the daughters, cooperative and a gentle spirit.
An apparition of a
girl with a baby in her arms has been seen standing by the infamous window which
wouldn't shut so long ago. Sometimes the window will shut by itself randomly or
when the tragic story is explained to visitors on cue!
friendly, fatherly entity of William Harrison IV makes his presence known to the
His presence walks across the parlor, making the chandeliers'
glass tinkle when no one living is in the room.
This jovial entity likes
to play little jokes on the staff. The door to the linen press swings open, and
hits the unsuspecting tour guide lightly in the shoulder. The door on occasion
swings back and forth at will.
His presence is strongly felt in the dining
room during some tours, like a good host who greets the visitors.
The entity of Harrison
has issues with the fruit in the fruit bowl. Fruit from the fruit bowl has been
known to fly through the air, but comes back eventually to the bowl, or they roll
on the table. Apples fall to the floor without hitting the wide board, like someone
picked them up and tossed them.
An apparition of a gaunt,
tall soldier walking along the river is seen, sometimes kept company by a drummer
boy - both probably casualties of the Civil War.
William Harrison IV
may have died too soon in a stupid accident, but his entity is enjoying his afterlife
in his renovated, restored Berkeley Plantation Mansion, getting his chuckles teasing
the tour guides, keeping the living company.
INCLUDE: haunted-places.com * berkeleyplantation.com
The Ghosts of Richmond... And Nearby Environs, by L.B. Taylor, Jr., Progress Printing Co. 2002.
HAUNTED PLACES: The National Directory,
by Dennis William Hauck, Penguin Group, 2002.