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Hampstead

( Originally Published 1932 )



A place of much beauty and charm is Hampstead, the home of Mrs. William Wallace, in New Kent County, and situated about twenty miles east of Richmond, near Tunstall Station. This handsome old place was built about 1812 by Colonel Conway Webb, of Virginia, for his young wife, a Miss Osborne from New England. Their only child died there when a young boy. Over his and other graves the present owners have erected a shrine to commemorate the early history of Hampstead.

The house is of red brick with white trimmings, and has four large, white columns which rise two stories high. Its setting is perfect. The extensive lawn is dotted with many large magnolia and box trees, and to the left is a terraced garden with its old-fashioned flowers. Near the entrance to the garden is still standing a brick structure, in the top of which hung the large, brass farm bell which in old days was rung to summon the hands from the fields when mealtime or sunset meant a rest for the weary.

The house is distinctive in that the rear entrance is a duplicate of the one at the front. It stands on a very high bluff which affords an extensive view of the rich fields and low grounds of the Pamunkey River. In the distance across the river is Chericoke, the old Braxton home, still owned by descendants of Carter Braxton, "the Signer."

An inspection of the interior reveals that the real beauty and charm of the mansion lies in the very handsome rooms and their most unusual woodwork. Graceful, winding stairs rise from an English basement to the observatory, three flights above. The floors are of heart pine, unscarred by time, and the mantels and ceilings are particularly handsome and in keeping with the surroundings. The wide hall runs midway the structure from front to back. It is broken by an arch sup-ported by two Corinthian columns. Other arches enclose the stairway and support the floor above. Many architects have been charmed by the beauty of the interior of Hampstead.

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