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Mayhurst Inn ~ Orange, VA

History buffs, reenactors, historians and lovers of all things history - if you are looking for a romantic, period correct bed and breakfast to stay in during your Civil War Sesquicentennial trips in Virginia, look no further, the Mayhurst Inn in Orange Va, the perfect place for history lovers of all kinds.

We had the pleasure of staying at Mayhurst when we were exploring the Charlottesville area on our Presidential Homes Tour. We arrived during the wine and cheese social hour and enjoyed a great conversation with gracious hosts Pat and Jack, who have the gift of true Southern hospitality. They excel at creating memories in their elegant antebellum manse, the getaway retreat of a lifetime. Informative, cheeful, a fount of knowledge on all things local, they are interested in their guests, yet respectful of privacy and the need for solitude. Over delicious cheese, we found that they are also consummate historians, brimming with stories and details, eager to share the rich history of the home and area.

You spend your time at Mayhurst walking around in awe ~ at both the exquisite architectural grandeur of the Italianate style manse built two years before the Civil War and the treasure trove of history you have just walked in to, and that is just the inside! Mayhurst was fashionable and stately in it's time, the height of antebellum fashion, with over 2500 acres of plantation. Built in the latest style by Colonel John Willis, a great nephew of President James Madison, of nearby Montpelier, Mayhurst is still as beautiful today.

In the gently rolling wine country, this sliver of the Central Virginia Piedmont, stretching between Orange and Fredricksburg, near both Washington DC and Richmond, was one of the most hotly contested stretches of land during the Civil War. Both sides vied for control, which makes the area so rich in history.

Southern generals were a mainstay on the property. General Robert E. Lee, who commanded the famed Army of Northern Virginia, was a guest of the family. General Thomas A. “Stonewall Jackson” was invited in, and stayed the night on August 6, 1862, after a battle in Orange, right before the Battle of Cedar Mountain. General A.P. Hill wintered the famous “Third Corps” of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, on the sweeping grounds of Mayhurst, filling the beautiful plantation grounds with white tents, housing over 18,000 troops over the winter of 1863-1864.

Mort Kunstler immortalized Mayhurst in his modern painting “Tender is the Heart” and the kindness and love of Robert E. Lee toward his troops. A.P. Hill’s wife had joined him during that winter, and gave birth to their daughter, Lucy Lee Hill, named after Lee. Always supporting his generals, Robert E. Lee served as little Lucy’s godfather, and he tenderly held her for the christening in May of 1864.

“On May 1, a clear and warm Sunday,” wrote Dr. Robertson, “the Reverend Richard Davis of St. Thomas Episcopal Church baptized Lucy Hill in a ceremony at Mayhurst. General Lee was godfather and held the infant in his arms throughout most of the service.” Quote from Dr. James I. Robertson, Jr.’s biography of A.P. Hill. A copy of the beautiful painting hangs in the parlor, at Mayhurst, and the story of a general’s devotion lives on.

One of the most charming thing about visiting antique homes are the variety of staircases one encounters. We had a constant fascination with Mayfair's beautiful oval staircase. Spiraling up 4 floors, you can look from the top of the staircase, down four stories to the basement. Glide up the stairs and enjoy the smooth wood, aged with the patina of time and so many greats in history.

At the very top is a large vantage point with enormous windows, the perfect place for a Confederate look out point. Look closely at the antique panes of glass and you will see that soldiers in gray etched their initials into the glass, an example of Civil War graffiti from men who had all too often faced death during the constant battles of war. Today, enjoy the views and stargazing, with a telescope and wing back chair, although it is a wee bit hot up there in the summer!

Head back down the magnificent oak staircase on the third floor and there is a beautiful sitting area with a nautical theme and a huge round window. We spent the afternoon relaxing by the window, and enjoying the amazing views. We were the only ones on the 3rd floor that weekend and thoroughly enjoyed having the floor to ourselves we were in the Piedmont Suite, 2 rooms with a bathroom in the middle. Furnished with antiques from the Civil War era the bedroom has oval, orange slice windows looking down on the lush grounds below. A bathroom in the middle, leads into a charming sitting room with a desk or 2nd bedroom.

We were traveling with our teenage daughter and it was absolutely delightful to tuck her into her own private little retreat, where she was able to have privacy.

A queen bed rounded out our section of the Piedmont Suite. Our bed was fantastic, perfect for this insomniac to actually fall asleep in and rest. Covered in the most spectacular embroidered linens I have ever experienced, with a velvety smooth high thread count, extraordinary stitching and detail, I was in love. One could imagine some Irish lass patiently bent over with a needle and thread, from the same era as the house. The house is so solidly built, and the 3rd floor so private, that we did not hear another guest the entire time we were there. We slept so well, a rare treat for me, away from home!

Breakfast the next morning was yet another foray into history as we headed down the oval spiral staircase to the breakfast room. Jack and Pat had cooked a hearty breakfast starting off with broiled grapefruit in pretty floral bowls, followed with hearty omelets garnished with fresh herbs, potatoes and thick slices of bacon on beautiful blue and white china. Breakie was superb, we enjoyed chatting with the other guests and seeing the Norths attending to everyone, making sure everything was just so, accommodating any dietary issues as needed, whether gluten free, dairy free, etc. Corner hutches held china and beautiful items from Mayhurst’s past, and were fun to look at as we finished breakfast.

We took another walk around the lush grounds, and through the house, enjoying the beauty of this extraordinary slice of history, one last time. All too soon it was time to pack our bags, load the car and head off for another day of exploring history. We left with a subdued longing to stay, definitely intending to return to our favorite historical bed and breakfast of all time!

Mayhurst is alive with stories, alive with voices from the past, and we are so grateful there are innkeepers like Jack and Pat, who are preserving memories, mementos and the rich tapestry of history found at Mayhurst, always sharing it with their guests. They are quite simply the best hosts ever and we are so thankful for to have been welcomed like family into their lovely Italianate home.

Location, Location, Location

Orange is smack dab in the middle of several historical sites including 4 presidential homes, Revolutionary and Civil War battlefields, museums and historical homes and a short distance to the UVA campus. Ideally located among beautiful horse farms in the foothills of Blue Ridge Mountains, near Skyline drive, the Shenandoah Valley and Virginia wine country ~ Mayhurst Inn is centrally located to all.

Civil War Facts and Living History Sites near Mayhurst Inn

  • The area between Orange and Fredricksburg was the most fought over territory in the Civil War
  • The Wilderness Civil War Battlefield, the site of first Lee vs Grant encounter is a mere 25 minutes away. The Wilderness campaign was the bloodiest and most decisive campaign of the War Between the States.
  • Chancellorsville Battlefield, where Stonewall Jackson was fatally wounded, is 30 min (and staffed by US Park Service)
  • Fredricksburg National Military Park and Visitor Center Museum 45 minutes, a well preserved battlefield.
  • Spotsylvania  National Military Park, site of the "Bloody Angle" is 45 minutes away.
  • Civil War Museum at the Exchange Hotel is 10 minutes away.  You can tour Virginia's only standing receiving hospital, a Confederate Hospital Museum where they do military and surgical reenactments.

Mayhurst Inn transports you back in time and is the ideal place to stay during all of the Sesquicentennial celebrations, marking the 150th anniversaries of the Civil War in the various locations in Virginia. They offer all sorts of historical packages as part of the Civil War Sesquicentennials, history weeks, period weddings and are part of "The Journey Through Hallowed Ground."

Enjoy stepping back in time, living a dose of history at this amazing, romantic inn. Close to the most heated Civil War battlegrounds, Montpelier in Orange, all of the presidential homes and historical delights in Charlottesville: Monticello, and Ash-Lawn and UVA, and within a few hours of Washington DC. As you are exploring history in the area, we highly recommend packing coffee and some fabulous food and enjoying some quality time at the Mayhurst Inn Bed and Breakfast in Orange. Tell them the folks at LivingHistorySites.com sent you!

Mayhurst Inn ~ A Virgina B&B and Romantic Inn c.1859

12460 Mayhurst Lane

Orange, VA 22960

(540) 672-5597

(888) 672-5597