Day Tripping - DC Metro
Hanover County, Virginia
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Hanover County
Items of Interest: Antiques, Restaurants, Historic Sites
(Located in the east-central Piedmont and Coastal Plain areas of Virginia, between the Chickahominy and Pamunkey Rivers. It is approximately 90 miles south of Washington, D.C. and 12 miles north of Richmond.)

The Hanover Court House

The Hanover Court House area along US. Rt. 301 at its intersection with Va. Rt. 54 is an unspoiled county seat consisting of the original eighteenth century courthouse building, the modern courthouse, a former tavern, a library, legal offices, and a few businesses.

The original courthouse, which is sometimes open for tours, was the scene of orator Patrick Henry's first legal case - the Parson's Cause.

This quaint eighteenth century courthouse is architecturally significant as its front arcade contains the original arches in a wonderfully original state of preservation.

On our visit to the court house during Virginia Garden Week, 2004, we encountered an entertaining docent who enthusiastically entertained visitors about the history of this building.

Patrick Henry's home - Scotchtown Plantation - is located in western Hanover County and is open to the public. Restored and furnished to the time of Henry's residency, it is one of the largest plantation houses in Virginia.

Built circa 1720 by Charles Chiswell, it was the residence of Patrick Henry from 1771 to 1777 and was, for a short period, the girlhood home of Dolley Madison.

Henry's wife was mentally challenged, and as was the custom of the day, she was isolated from the world - in this case in the basement which can only be entered by an exterior door.

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Scotchtown Plantation
Patrick Henry’s Home
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Houndstooth Cafe

(Located at the corner of Routes 301 and 54 in Hanover.
Take Exit 92 on I-95 South of Kings Dominion on Route 54.)
Address: 13271 Hanover Courthouse Rd, Hanover, VA 23069
Phone:(804) 537-5404

In addition to the area's connection with Patrick Henry, another reason to visit Hanover Courthouse is to eat at the Houndstooth Café, located in an old country store which has been refurbished as a restaurant.

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Houndstooth Cafe
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We first heard of this restaurant from a review in Virginia Magazine and we are so glad we did.

We found a quaint, friendly establishment where the wait staff goes out of their way to make you feel welcome and comfortable. On the two occasions we ate there, we had different staff members each time, both of whom were terrific.

The menu offers a variety of sandwiches and entrees, but the reason to eat here is the barbecue - beef, chicken, or pork! Hush puppies are delicious as an accompaniment to the barbecue.

The pork barbecue we tried is tender, tasty, moist, and not soaked in any kind of sauce. The sauce is added on top, sufficient and perfect, but not overwhelming. And every morsel you consume confirms the fact that you are, indeed, in "hog heaven." Hush puppies are delicious (and we mean REALLY delicious) as an accompaniment to the barbecue.

The menu also offers many fresh seafood items. The dessert specialty is the "Houndstooth Derby Pie" and is perfect, served warm and chocked full of pecans, chocolate chips and bourbon. If you are of a mind, you may also order homemade brownies, apple pie, or cheesecake.

Owner Connie Cunningham also offers the "Houndstooth Feast for Four", a whole barbecued pork butt with three vegetables, hush puppies, and beverage. Call 804-537-5404 for hours as lunch and dinner are not served every day. As of August 24, the Hours were:

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Houndstooth Cafe
  • Tuesday - Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  • Dinner
  • Tuesday - Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Friday - 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Saturday - 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

  • Sunday and Monday - Closed

    Our Rating (Five Chefs is Highest)

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    For Map And Directions to HoundsTooth

    Two Frogs on a Bike

    After your meal, walk cross US Rt. 301 to a quirky antique shop - Two Frogs on a Bike - a great stop for a trip down memory lane and a source for that special collectible to accent your home decor. We found a set of 3 swirl "jadeite" bowls from the thirties as a reasonable price (of course you know what jadeite bowls are - if not, Click Here).

    The owners are friendly and have good plants for sale in the spring.

    Fork Episcopal Church

    Fork Episcopal Church in Doswell is one of the oldest churches in Virginia. It has been in continuous use since 1735. The church is located on Old Ridge Road in Hanover County.

    The church built in 1735, originally called St. Martin's (after St. Martin in the Fields of London), became known as "The Fork Church" due to its location near where the North and South Anna Rivers join to form of the Pamunkey River.

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    Fork Episcopal Church
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    and Additional Photo)

    A traditional rectangular building measuring seventy-five by twenty-five feet, its brick is laid in Flemish bond with glazed headers.

    There is a door at Fork Church's southern end and another one on the northeastern corner side. Over each door is a portico on brick columns, which were not part of the original church.

    In the 1800's the high back pews were replaced and the pulpit relocated to the end of the church.

    Patrick Henry, as a child, came here for services from nearby Scotchtown, the Henry family plantation located five miles away.

    His father, John Henry, was a vestryman, and his uncle, also named Patrick, was minister here for forty years. Patrick Henry's cousin, Dorothea Payne - later known as Dolley when she would become the wife of James Madison, America's fourth president - also attended services here.

    Interesting, too, is the fact that the grandfather of actress Katherine Hepburn, S.S. Hepburn, was a minister here from 1893- 1903.

    Noteworthy possessions of the church include the communion silver of 1759, said to be made in England and the early eighteenth century baptismal font, also made in England, from a neighboring King and Queen county church (Lower Church of St. Stephen's Parish) which became a Baptist church after the dissolution of the Anglican Church in Virginia.

    Two wall memorials inside the church are dedicated to Rev. Robert Nelson and Colonel William Nelson, CSA.

    Fork Church recently (2003) completed a restoration of their organ. This organ is a rare tracker instrument built in 1855 by Henry F. Berger, who was born in Germany in 1819 and came to this country in 1849. He worked in Baltimore, MD where this instrument was built.

    It is one of only two of his organs known to survive. With no swell or pedal stops, it is like the organs of the 17th and 18th centuries.

    The Rappahannock Organ Company was chosen to complete this historic and important restoration.

    Photo Courtesy Rappahannock Organ Company