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Williamsburg Area Features

James River Plantations

Photo Credit: Berkeley Plantation

Treasures from three centuries are available at the James River Plantations along scenic Virginia Route 5 in Charles City County.

The county, strategically located between the James and Chickahominy Rivers and close to the colonial capitals of Jamestown and Williamsburg, was the first westward expansion of English-speaking America.

The county was established in 1619 and its plantations and farms along the James River have survived the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the War Between the States. The county’s gracious manor houses, all privately owned and preserved historic National Register properties, are open for visitors to experience and enjoy today.

Despite its proximity to historic Williamsburg and Richmond, the capital of Virginia, Charles City has remained a rural oasis. Extensive timberlands, tidal waters and thousands of acres of richly cultivated farmland are preserved here.

Ironically, there is no city in Charles City County. The heart of the community is its early l8th-century courthouse, a 250-year-old cultural link between past and present.

Charles City has been home to Native Americans and early settlers, planters, slaves and free blacks, presidents and signers of the Declaration of Independence, emancipators, educators and agronomists. Descendants of these founding fathers still live in the county today.

Benjamin Harrison, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and Presidents William Henry Harrison and John Tyler were born and lived here. General Robert E. Lee spent much of his boyhood here, and agriculturist Edmund Ruffin, who fired the first shot of the Civil War, practiced his innovative techniques on Charles City soil. Lott Cary, the first black American missionary to Africa and founding father of Liberia, was born here. One of the first free black communities in America was located in Charles City, as well as the third oldest organized free black church.

Charles City County – its beauty, history and tradition make it a must-stop on any Virginia tour. From fine dining and bed-and-breakfast establishments to simple riverside picnics and walking tours, Charles City County has it all. Enjoy touring our website, then enjoy touring the real thing.

Visit JamesRiverPlantations.org for more information and to be guided directly to individual websites. Berkeley and Shirley Plantation houses and grounds are open year-round with guided house tours and self-guided garden tours. Westover grounds are open but Evelynton is closed to the public. Sherwood Forest grounds are open and a house tour is by appointment only. Some of the B&B’s in the area include Edgewood, North Bend and Piney Grove. Check Charles City Tavern and Cul’s Courthouse Grill for dining hours. www.JamesRiverPlantations.org 


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