Bladensfield Estate, of 1,000 acres, was patented by John Jenkins in
1653, and the present house was built for Jenkins by Nicholas
Rochester, who came from England in 1689. At Jenkins' death, in 1719,
Bladensfield was added to the Nomini Hall estate. The house is a
large frame building on a brick basement. The walls of nogging
covered with clapboards rise two stories to a gabled roof, which has
several dormers. The largest of the dormers is over the entrance.
Mantels and cornices are hand-carved, and the flooring is
dowel-pinned. The house is privately owned and is not open to the public."
From the website
of the National Park Service.
"Bladensfield is one
of the oldest houses in the Northern Neck, and is a place of great
interest. It is set back from the highway, in a lawn of beautiful
trees and shrubbery, through which winds the old, old drive-way. The
flower garden back of the house is one of the beauty spots of the
Northern Neck. The Ward family, who now own and occupy Bladensfield,
take pride in preserving the grounds as they were over two centuries ago....
The original name of the
house was 'Billingsgate' and it was not given the title
'Bladensfield' until 1847. The basement of the dwelling is
brick-walled, but the walls of the house above the ground are of
noggin. Some of the original beaded weather-boarding remains. On the
interior are hand-carved mantels and cornice, and paneled wainscot,
of a different color in each room. The doors have 'HL' hinges, 'to
keep the witches out'. From the hall ceiling still hangs the lamp
used in Colonial days. Through the facing of the rear door is the
Indian peep-hole. This door has no lock... it never had any. A
hard-timbered bar secures it. It is the identical bar that held the
door closed against the Indians in the late sixteen hundreds...."
"Historic Northern Neck of Virginia" by Henry Ragland
Eubank, published 1934.
"When we were
children, although Papa and Mama disapproved, the servants told us
many ghost stories. We heard that Mr. John Peck had been a hard
drinker and a severe master. Old Uncle Armistead Jackson used to tell
us that our room called the studio had been Mr. Peck's office where
he did his drinking and kept his accounts. He said that a great many
of the colored people saw his ghost there in the late hours of the
night, and always a flame of burning sulphur blazed up from his
bosom. He was chained and rattled his chains angrily. From that,
Uncle Armistead argued that poor Mr. Peck was in the 'bad place'
because he had worked his people so hard.
My favorite story was of
Miss Alice, the beautiful daughter of old John Peck. My mother used
to tell us of her reputation for beauty and goodness. She had a lover
who was a very wild, dissipated young man, much given to horse
racing. Miss Alice loved him but refused to marry him until he had
reformed his life. He left and she went on a visit to the mountains
from which she returned ill with the fever that brought her death.
When she was dying her
lover came back and tried to tell her something, but she died holding
to him and trying to listen... The servants always said that that was
why she could not rest - she had not heard - and so she was always
wandering about the place... She was the loved companion of our childhood.
One day, a gentle, old
clergyman came very unexpectedly to visit us. My mother put him in
the room in which Miss Alice had died. In the morning this old
gentleman rose by light, and wandered all over the place. At
breakfast, my mother said, 'Mr. Temple, I am afraid you did not rest
well, you got up so early.' Mr. Temple answered, 'Madam, I could not
sleep in that room.' My mother said, 'Oh, I am so sorry I put you
there to sleep.' He answered, 'I am glad. I would not have missed it
for anything.' My mother remembered that Mr. Temple was Miss Alice's
wild, young lover.
Aunt Amy Fauntleroy, a very
old colored woman, said when she was a little girl, before we lived
at Bladensfield, 'the ghoses' were so troublesome that the Pecks had
them 'laid'. Aunt Amy said she was at 'the Laying'. She told us that
the grounds were covered with the colored people and that a Baptist
preacher came into the hall, from the back of the house, wearing his
coat inside out and upside down and read some verses of the Bible
going from the bottom line to the top. Aunt Amy said, 'Ef yer hadn't
er knowed it was the Bible, yer'd er thought it was pur nonsense.'
She added that 'the ghoses' had never been as bad since 'the
laying'... However, they were very much in evidence throughout our childhood."
From a written
account of the hauntings at Bladensfield by Evelyn Douglas Ward,
daughter of Reverend William Norvell Ward, Rector of Cople, North
Farnham, and Lunenberg Parishes, who acquired Bladensfield in 1847.
"The house lies more
than a half-mile south of the Kinsale Road, at the end of a drive --
now a shady lane -- close-bordered by dogwood, holly, poplars, and
one mighty oak, which separate the drive from fields of wheat, corn,
and soybean to the east and cool, deep forest to the west.
Withdrawing from the outside world, this sand lane passes through a
pole gate and an old split-rail fence and subsides into what once had
been a formal carriage circle, shaded by great elms.
In forest light, the house
rose like a woody growth, dark silver-green with years of weather.
Unreasonably, I had expected a white house, but either the paint had
worn away or the house had never known a coat of paint at all. The
dark green fungus and the rotting weatherboards under the eaves and
the broken attic panes deepened its gothic atmosphere; high dormers,
narrow gables, black uncurtained windows, and a brick foundation
rising two feet out of the ground made the house seem higher, gaunter
than it was. Its several doors, served by wood steps, looked
irrevocably shut, as if its occupants were long gone or had boarded
themselves up to close away the modern world at the distant highway.
Two English box trees by
this drive, grown gigantesque, stood watch over the house with that
air of melancholy wistfulness that is peculiar to formality untended."
of a 1956 visit to Bladensfield by Peter Matthiessen in the book
"The Children of Bladensfield" by Evelyn Douglas Ward.
Fire claims historic
Northern Neck mansion
Warsaw (AP) - A fire has
claimed one of the oldest houses on the Northern Neck and a state and
federally recognized landmark.
The fire at the
Bladensfield mansion was first reported to the Richmond County
Volunteer Fire Department at about 9:50 a.m. Wednesday. When the
first firefighters arrived five minutes later, "she was gone
completely," said Assistant Chief Dennis Hanks.
"This is a
nightmare," said part-owner Evelyn W. Overton as she watched the
smoke rise from the rubble surrounding the huge brick chimney stacks
that were the only part of the house left standing....
Bladensfield was a
three-story frame house that served as a girls' boarding school
during the 1840s. It contained 20 rooms and was a trove of antiques,
old family portraits and memorabilia, said Mrs. Overton.
Overton, who lives next
door to the property, said she left at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday to take
her cousin, who lived in Bladensfield, to the hospital for knee surgery.
"He said the heat was
off and he had unplugged everything because he knew he'd be gone for
a week," said Overton.
She said at least two
neighbors noticed smoke coming from the general area of the Colonial
mansion, but assumed it was a controlled burn by foresters who had
been working in nearby timberland.
State and local
investigators were searching for clues.
"It's not suspicious,
but we're looking for what caused it," said Richmond County
Sheriff Gene Snydor.
"Fairfax Journal" November 1996.