Thursday, October 24, 2013

Those Places Thursday: Ghosts of Rippon Lodge

Rippon Lodge Historic Site is located at 15520 Blackburn Road in Woodbridge, Virginia.  Built circa 1747 by wealthy land owner, Richard Blackburn, it is one of the oldest homes in Prince William County and is open to the public from May until October.   Once a thriving plantation near the port of Dumfries, overlooking Neabsco Creek, the present day 43 acre site interprets the history of the house its owners from 1747 to 2000.  Visitors are welcome to stroll the grounds and gardens.

Thomas Blackburn, the son of Richard, was a Revolutionary War soldier and later a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses.  (And yes, George Washington did sleep here.)  The house was also owned by Blackburn's descendant, Antarctic Explorer Richard Blackburn Black, before being sold to the County in 2000.

There are several tragic stories associated with Rippon Lodge, one of which involves an unfortunate slave child and Mrs. Blackburn.  In a fit of temper, the mistress struck or pushed the child, who fell against the stone jamb of the fireplace and died shortly there after.  There was an inquest but the court determined the death to be accidental.  The child's ashes are said to be buried in the family cemetery.

In 1765, John Baylis supposedly insulted the father of Cuthbert Bullitt, Reverend James Scott, and was challenged to a duel for the insult.  The newspapers report that Baylis's gun failed to go off and then, after having asked for mercy, instead shot at Bullitt when he hesitated -- and missed.  Baylis was shot in the groin and brought to Rippon Lodge where he died from his wound.   

Standing for over 250 years, is Rippon Lodge haunted?

The October 2011 edition of Prince William Living reports that "over the years, people have reportedly seen figures in the windows and heard footsteps where there is no one around to make them.  Carpenters working on the restoration of the buildings claimed to have seen a person in the upstairs windows on various occasions."

In Marguerite Dupont Lee's book "Virginia Ghosts," is an account of Miss Atkinson, former owner, who said "she never saw anything unusual but sometimes heard strange and disturbing noises."

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Spirits of Rippon Lodge
October 25 and 26, 2013

Rippon Lodge has a diverse history rich with ghostly tales.  A 1930 account of the Lodge says, "the house is said to be haunted in such a ghostly and sinister fashion that no one will occupy it."  Rumor has it that the course of Route 1 was altered to avoid its ghostly residents.  Come experience a unique opportunity to tour the house and grounds by candlelight.  You'll meet several historical characters along to way to hear their tales of sadness and triumph.  Cost is $10 per person and reservations are recommended.  Call 703-499-9812. 


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