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Posted on: March 24, 2021

New WanderLove Blog

Picture of Chippokes mansion with words Wander Love Savor the Secrets of Surry

A drive through Surry County allows you to enjoy the laid-back rural scenery as well as unusual historical sights. Here are a few secrets of Surry that offer rare glimpses into our American past.

Click on the titles below to learn more about visiting the location. You can also visit to learn more about the rich history, hidden gems, and fantastic food of Surry.

Bacon’s Castle

Bacon's Castle and outbuildings from aboveBacon’s Castle is the oldest brick dwelling in North America and is a rare example of High Jacobean architecture.  It was built for Arthur Allen and his family in 1665. Originally known as Allen’s Brick House, it earned the name “Bacon’s Castle” in 1676 when several of Nathaniel Bacon’s men occupied the home for four months during the uprising that became known as Bacon’s Rebellion.

The home features a reconstructed 17th-century English formal garden restored by the Garden Club of Virginia. Several outbuildings also survive, including an 1830 slave dwelling.

Currently, guided exterior tours are available which highlight the architecture, history of the various buildings around the main house, and the archeology of property.

Smith’s Fort

Front of the brick  Manor House at Smith's Fort PlantationSmith’s Fort is the site of Captain John Smith’s “New Fort” and is located directly across the James River from Jamestown. The site still has earthworks that mark the spot of the unfinished fort partially completed in 1609 before being abandoned. The current house is situated on land given by Chief Wahunsenacawh (Powhatan) as a dowry for his daughter Pocahontas’ marriage to John Rolfe in 1614. The manor house on the property was built in 1761.

Dendron Museum

Bell from railroad engine with mural of locomotive in the backgroundThe Dendron Museum highlights the history of the Surry Lumber Company and the Surry, Sussex, & Southampton Railway which were both essential to the development of the town of Dendron. Around the outside of museum building you can see the original bell from Engine 2 of the SS&S Railroad, a large piece of the sawmill machinery from the Surry Lumber Company, and a boxcar from the Railroad.

Surry Historical Society

Exterior of the cabin of the ferry Captain John SmithThe highlight of the Surry Historical Society the original deckhouse from the 1925 ferry, the Captain John Smith. This boat transported vehicles across the James River until the 1950s. Now you can walk around the deck of the restored ferry. It is a great place for photos to commemorate your visit to Surry.

Chippokes State Park

Front of historic mansion at Chippokes PlantationChippokes is one of the oldest continually farmed plantations in the country. The Farm and Forestry Museum in the park offers a glimpse at this agricultural past. In addition to the antique equipment at the museum, you can also see livestock as well as fields of corn, soybeans, cotton, and peanuts. A walk around the park allows you to enjoy the formal gardens and scenic views of the James River. Another interesting walk is Chipoax Road, which is now a quiet trail, but was once a busy route for farmers and merchants as early as the 1600s. The mansion, built in 1854 is also an impressive sight overlooking the James River.

Visit to learn more about the rich history, hidden gems, and fantastic food of Surry.

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