During my trip to America one of the places I visited, and enjoyed immensely, was Charlottesville in Virginia. Where we stayed was absolutely gorgeous; the view from out window a mountainside, the was fresh greenery everywhere to be seen and the weather was that lovely summer sun that wasn’t so hot that you think you are going to melt but warm enough so you didn’t need to wear trousers or a jacket. I wasn’t aware before going there that Virginia was actually home to two former presidents of the United States; Thomas Jefferson and James Mason. So, as tourists, our lovely hosts kindly agreed to take us to each of their homes to have a wander about.
We went to Montpelier first, the home of fourth president James Mason. It was absolutely gorgeous especially the kitchens, gardens and surrounding grounds of the house. The house itself was undergoing a huge multi-million dollar transformation to what it would have been like when James Mason lived there. It was really interesting to see how the archaeologists and historians pieced together slithers of information, such as different brickwork, to work out how the house functioned in the nineteenth century. A lot of the original furniture was missing, having been sold off by various owners, so a lot of the pieces in the house were replicas, informed guesses or non-existent. Our guide told us it that it is an ongoing and painstaking process to remodel the house so exactly and to the desired standard.
At Thomas Jefferson’s house, Monticello, it felt as though you had gone back in time. In fact it was eery how perfectly it had been preserved. Jefferson had many interests and on display all over the house were a lot of gadgets, pieces of furniture designed by Jefferson himself, such as a swivel chair, maps, artefacts, books, and musical instruments. You really got insight into what kind of man Jefferson was instead of just a politician. Our guide actually told us that Jefferson hated to leave Monticello and would rather have been there cultivating his mile long kitchen garden than at the White House. The gardens and grounds were spectacular and I could have wandered about them for hours.