“Holidays at Walney Farm”

A Victorian-Era Christmas Holiday Excursion….

Entrance to Walney Farm

House - Front
This had been the original small homestead in the 1700s. In the 1800s, a larger home was built on the property and this building became the Machen family’s library. Years later, the newer house burned down and this building was enlarged to, once again, become a family home.
History Lesson - Lady 1
This genteel lady read aloud passages from a few Machen family letters and explained some of the details about the food the family ate, the ornaments they created and their traditions for celebrating the holidays.
We were invited to make a variety of “authentic” Victorian-era crafts, such as gilded pine cones and sweet-smelling sachets…
Cinnamon Ornaments
Cinnamon ornaments…
Sewing kit
… and a sewing needle case.
Then this young lady took us for a tour around the grounds and explained the activities that the family would be engaged in during the winter months.
Our first stop was the smokehouse where butchered meat from up to thirty pigs would be hung each December after being preserved in salt (Virginia ham). They would last until the following autumn.
A view of the house from the direction of the smokehouse.
We then discovered the kitchen garden, where the family would grow vegetables and herbs for their table.
A sundial in the kitchen garden. Does anybody really know what time it is?
We walked down a short incline, winding our way through the woods, toward these remnants… at which point we were asked to imagine this pile of rocks was an intact icehouse. (Icehouses only remind me of this songand this one.) But this icehouse was actually the second structure that had been built on the property for this purpose — the first having not been successful at keeping the ice that had been carved out of the river cold enough to last all the way through the end of summer.


Ascending the hill in the direction of the house, we noticed this decorated tractor, ready to host a wagon ride (which we did not take).
We continued our walk toward the remains of the dairy, which once produced thousands of pounds of butter, cheese and milk enjoyed by the family and sold at market in Alexandria.
A closer view of the dairy, which still has a stream running through the middle of it.


DAR Sign


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