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[photo] Bacon's Castle
Photo by Chris Malpass

Bacon's Castle is distinguished as America's premier example of high style 17th-century domestic architecture and the oldest documented house in Virginia. The house was built for prosperous planter Arthur Allen in 1665. The Jacobean plan and details of the brick house include curvilinear gables, diagonal chimney stacks and a cruciform plan. During the 18th century, casement windows were replaced with sash windows and paneling was installed on the first floor. In the 19th century, a two-story Greek Revival style wing enlarged the house to its present size.

[photo] Southwest exterior of Bacon's Castle
Photo by Chris Malpass

The house is so named because supporters of Nathaniel Bacon's revolt against Governor William Berkeley occupied the building in 1676 during Bacon's Rebellion. Seventy followers of Nathaniel Bacon, under the direction of William Rookings, ousted Arthur Allen and made his home their Surry County headquarters for four months. As Allen was a member of Virginia's House of Burgesses and a loyal supporter of Governor Berkeley, it is not surprising that his home was used by forces that were attempting to overthrow the colonial government.

This important early colonial site was acquired in 1973 by the Association for the Preservation for Virginia Antiquities and opened to the public in 1983 as one of its museum properties. Archeological investigation yielded valuable evidence that guided the restoration of the impressive 17th-century formal gardens, funded through the Garden Club of Virginia. Bacon's Castle and the Association's nearby Warren House (Smith's Fort) remain situated in the agricultural setting of rural Surry County.

Bacon's Castle, a National Historic Landmark, is located on the west side of Surry County Rte. 617, just north of its junction with Rte. 10 between Hopewell and Smithfield. The Castle is open March through November, Friday and Saturday, 10am-4pm, Sunday 12:30pm-4pm and Monday-Thursday by advance appointment for a nominal fee. Tours begin 30 minutes after opening and occur at the bottom of the hour, with the last tour at 3:30pm. Please call 757-357-5976 or 804-648-1889 for further information, or visit the house's website or Facebook page . Bacon's Castle has also been documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey.

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