For those who don’t know the history behind the Bracken Kitchen, here’s what we were told going into our adventure…
Although we didn’t see any ghosts or even a moving rocking chair, we did hear several noises throughout the night, mostly tapping sounds and what seemed to be heavy walking from the upper level. My husband and I decided to bring our children ages 3, 5, and 10, not knowing how they would react to the entire situation but to say that they had anything short of the time of their lives would be an understatement. After all the walking, eating, trick-or-treating, and exploring—needless to say, the kids were exhausted by the stroke of midnight on Halloween. I, on the other hand, slept with one eye open.
The Bracken Kitchen is truly a one-of-a-kind place to stay. It is a small, two-story Colonial House with narrow stairs and tight spaces, which we found to be quite fitting for our evening. The house was clean, had a beautiful accessible fireplace, two bathrooms, three beds, and the staff was extremely accommodating. The best part of the house is its location. Right smack dab in the middle of the Historic Area, this house was great for carting things back and forth throughout our stay. I would absolutely stay here again and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to be a stone’s throw from all the action on DoG Street!
Just across the street from our house was a small alleyway that led us right to Chowning’s Tavern. There was no wait when we got there and the food was perfection. We learned Chowning’s is an 18th-century alehouse and my husband and I found delicious options on the menu and so did our kids. It was a win-win for everyone. We were caught up on the town gossip over bottles of root beer and mugs of ale! (Our dinner was so fantastic that we came back several hours later for hot cocoa under the arbor). We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect autumn evening.
After dinner we ventured out onto DoG Street to do some trick-or-treating with our kiddos. We were awestruck by all of the time and detail that was put into “A Haunting on DoG Street.”
The streets were alive, that’s for sure—full of children and ghouls, music and cider—and how can we forget the astounding and brilliantly chilling ‘Headless Horseman’ who paraded about the streets?
After a short break from trick-or-treating (which conveniently gave us the opportunity to run back to our house and change), we returned to DoG Street to kick off “Under Blackbeard’s Flag.”
Upon arriving, we found that The Capitol and a few other places had tours going on. We decided to fill our mugs up with cider and stroll the lantern and cresset-lit street, dodging pirates and zombies who passed by. Though the event was not recommended for children under 13, we know our kids aren’t scared of much and they had a marvelous time. We made sure to avoid the Gaol with the super spooky gallows and didn’t go into any of the adult programming. Instead, we stuck to the road and just enjoyed watching all of the interpreters, guests, and skeleton horses!
Just when we thought our night couldn’t get any better, we returned to the Bracken Kitchen to find delicious bags of homemade Halloween cookies waiting on each of our beds. Next to them, there was a letter sealed with wax.
All are welcome to the fireside hearth at the Bracken Kitchen
Like the two little girls
Who warmed their torn and battered mittens
They sought shelter by the day behind the tattered shade
But knew naught that the bricks be dusted with bone ashes of a departed milk maid.
We read the letter to our children while enjoying the yummy cookies and listening to their giggles. As for the lady in dark who haunts the Bracken Kitchen, well, maybe she will embrace us one day and grace us with her presence. It’s just one more reason for us to return!
Before checking out Sunday, we made coffee and ventured out with the kids to explore the grounds. We walked down to Bruton Parish Church which we discovered was actually holding a service. We entered quietly into the churchyard where we saw the graves of two of Martha Custis Washington’s infant children from her first marriage.
We then went on to look at some of the other historic homes and buildings, passing by a pasture of sheep as well as the Governor’s Palace. The autumn leaves made the backdrop for our family adventure absolutely breathtaking.
And we couldn’t leave without souvenirs. It’s a family tradition. To remember this trip, we bought this doll for our daughter. It reminded us so much of her Little Red Riding Hood costume that won us the contest and an opportunity for such a fabulous weekend. As I type this, it sits on our mantel—a fun reminder of our first Colonial Williamsburg vacation!
GUEST BLOGGER: ERIN COLES
Erin is 34-year-old wife and mom to three children Nick 10, Noah 5, and Bryor 3. She and her husband are New York Natives who relocated to Hampton last October.
She works for Bon Secours Depaul Hospital in Norfolk, as well as Maxim Staffing Agency. She enjoys photography, the beach, and vacationing with her family.