Monday, October 10, 2011

A Visit To The Historical Brandywine Valley Of PA

One of my favorite places to visit is the Brandywine Valley of Pennsylvania.  The Brandywine Valley is nestled amidst the rolling hills of Chester County, and is the area where the Revolutionary War Battle Of Brandywine took place.  This area is steeped in historical value, lush gardens, splendid mansions, wineries, museums, and art galleries.
Folke Stone Bed And Breakfast

Foyer/Room Folke Stone B & B
For our tenth anniversary my husband Roger and I vacationed there to renew our vows at Longwood Gardens.  We stayed at the Folke Stone Bed and Breakfast situated in the country just outside West Chester.   This charming beautifully restored stone manor house with its open beam ceiling, random width floors and warm decor and hospitality not unlike the days of George and Martha Washington welcomed us at first glance. 

The Innkeepers Marcy and Walter Schmoll were very friendly and accommodating.  They were so kind that when we checked out, Walter gave me a clump of the ground cover that I admired growing around the tree in the front yard.

Breakfast Table Folke Stone B & B
Marci being a retired dietician creates the most delicious breakfast which is also nutritious.  We enjoyed fresh raspberry pastry that Marci had just made and served at one dining room table where all the guests are seated together.

There were two other couples; one elderly couple who were visiting their granddaughter in college, and they were regular guests at the inn. The other couple was from Washington DC; he a Corporate Attorney, and she a Supervisor for U.S.D.A. which just happened to be the governing office of the agency that I had worked for in the past.  I was a Clerk Transcriber for a New Jersey Food Stamp Office in Warren County. The conversation was very interesting, and the woman from the U.S.D.A.was quite interested in the operations of what she called a "lay office". 

After breakfast we enjoyed the view from the side porch.  I remember that the door leading out to the porch was original from 1732 and had lots of character. 
King Louis Room

Swans on pond Folke Stone B & B

Our room was the King Louis room which had a French Provincial style elegance, and the view from the window was right out of a Romantic Novel.  Our view was of two lovely swans floating peacefully on what appeared to be an old English countryside pond. 

The prices are reasonable and definitely worth every penny spent on  an extraordinary place to lodge in such a historical area of our country.  Our stay there was not just a place to sleep, but was a memorable experience.

Longwood Gardens
Longwood Conservatory
A visit to this region of Pennslyvania is not complete unless you spend a day at Longwood Gardens.  I have often described Longwood Gardens as Heaven on Earth.  It is not uncommon that the first time you visit a vacation spot, is usually the best experience, however with Longwood Gardens every visit is the best!  Each season offers a different view, and experience. 

Loves Temple Longwood♥ Renewed Our Vows
Main Fountain Garden Longwood
A circular arbor is covered with pink roses in June. During the bloom period, the enclosure serves as one of the outdoor staging areas for concerts. In the center of the arbor is an old Italian wellhead.


The next attraction on our agenda is always a visit to Winterthur, a Dupont family mansion converted into a museum with the largest collection of Americana antiques in the world. 

One of several dining room settings
A tour of this mansion invokes a sense of affluence.  Because of my vivid imagination, and love of all things of the past, I simply get lost in an overwhelming feeling of participation in the opulent settings created by Henry Francis Dupont. 

I can picture a huge dinner party seated around the many lovely dining room settings of Winterthur, eating off of fine china, perhaps the set which had been formerly owned by George and Martha Washington.

I have always dreamed of having a home with a winding stairway, just like the one my Great Aunt Ree and Uncle Bill had in their home.  However the one at Winterthur is absolutely magnificent, and on the Yuletide Tour it is decorated beautifully with greens and poinsettias. 

The gardens at Winterthur are gorgeous and their fall foliage equal to that of Longwood Gardens.  Since my last visit to Winterthur they have added an enchanted garden for children, complete with a thatched roofed cottage for fairy tea parties.

Winterthur has a great little store where they sell reproductions of the many antiques that are housed in the museum, as well as garden ornaments, and Victorian collectibles. 

In May of 1997 Winterthur acquired the Campbell Soup Tureen collection.
Campbell Soup Tureen Collection

From their website:  The genesis of the Campbell Collection dates to 1966, when John T. Dorrance Jr., chairman of the Campbell Soup Company, and W. B. Murphy, the company president, decided to begin collecting. They secured a charter for a museum in Camden, New Jersey, and the collection soon grew to include a wide range of tureens and soup-related objects made in Europe, Asia, and America. The dates range from 1720 to modern times.

 If you decide to eat at either of their two cafes, you must try their delicious Kennett Square Cream Of Mushroom Soup!

Brandwine River Museum

The second day of our trip to the Brandywine Valley we visited the Brandywine River Museum the home of the artist work of the Wyeth family in Chadds Ford on Route 1.  From their website:
In 1971, the Conservancy opened the Brandywine River Museum in the renovated Hoffman’s Mill, a former gristmill built in 1864 that was part of the Conservancy’s first preservation efforts.  With nearly six million visitors to date, the museum has established an international reputation for its unparalleled collection and its dedication to American art with primary emphasis on the art of the Brandywine region, American illustration, still life and landscape painting, and the work of the Wyeth family. 
Among the hundreds of artists represented are Howard Pyle, many students of Pyle who affected the course of American illustration, N. C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, and Jamie Wyeth.  There is work by hundreds of famous illustrators.  Landscape, still life, portrait and genre painting includes work by Benjamin West, Gilbert Stuart, Asher Durand, W. T. Richards, William Harnett, John Haberle, J. D. Chalfant, Horace Pippin, and many others, while the major still life collection includes paintings by William Harnett, John Peto, George Cope, John Haberle, Horace Pippin, and many more artists.  Nearly 300 special exhibitions have been shown in the museum’s six galleries, along with constant installations of work from the collection.  Educational programs and publications for audiences of all ages are regular and frequent.

One thing that stands out in my memory is that they had the 1911 lithographs of N.C. Wyeth's illustrations for Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.  

Chadds Ford Inn
 Chadds Ford Inn

Second Floor Dining Room
After our tour of the Brandwine River Museum we had dinner at the Chadds Ford Inn which is now operating under the name of  Brandywine Prime.  We were seated in the upstairs dining room near a window.  At the very top of the stairs hung a painting by Andrew Wyeth of a lovely nude woman.  Our waiter pointed out that the Battle Of Brandywine was staged right outside the inn and that the legend  has it that a cannon ball came through the window by which we were seated. 

The ambiance of  the Chaddsford Inn was only upstaged by the beautifully plated meal which was scrumptious.  This restaurant is now under new management and I can't vouch for their food, but the ambiance has to be as inspirational because of the historical value of the inn.  
Chaddsford Winery

The Brandywine Valley is filled with many other historical sites, gardens, and wineries.  After our dinner at the Chadds Ford Inn we stopped by a wine tasting festival at the Chaddsford Winery which was right nearby the inn on Route 1.  It was a very mellow ending to a very memorable trip to the outstanding Brandywine Valley of Pennsylvania.  

Brandywine Valley Links:  

Folke Stone Bed & Breakfast

Longwood Gardens

Winterthur Museum

Brandywine River Museum

Chaddsford Inn/Brandywine Prime

Chaddsford Winery

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