Day Tripping - DC Metro
Upperville, Virginia
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Upperville
Items of Interest: Restaurants, Historic Sites
(Located midway between Alexandria and Winchester
On the Ashby Gap trading route (now Route 50)



In Upperville, the upper crust
Say "Bottoms Up!" from dawn to dusk
And "Ups-a-daisy, dear!" at will
I want to live in Upperville. - John Updike, 1961

          

So, why would anyone want to live in Upperville, or even visit this very small town? Well, for one thing, in 1997 owner Jack Kent Cooke's ashes were buried in the town, and John Updike wrote of Upperville in his poem "Upon Learning That a Town Exists Called Upperville."

We believe that there are at least four other reasons - the glorious beauty of the countryside, a splendid restaurant, an architecturally significant church - and, of course, horses.


Kyra trotting in the under saddle
class - Upperville Horse Show, 2005.
(Photo Courtesy webshots.com)

Upperville is home to the Upperville Colt and Horse Show. Held every summer (June 4 - 10, 2007), it is the oldest horse show in the United States. Steeped in tradition, it extends a full seven days, and involves over two thousand horse and rider combinations from young children on ponies to leading Olympic and World Cup riders and horses.

This hamlet was originally known as "Carrtown", named for Joseph Carr who owned 108 acres at the west end of town.

During its history, Upperville was a child that had no parent county wanting to claim it as its own. Sometimes identified as being in Loudoun County and sometimes said to be a part of Fauquier County, Upperville has a charm and fascination harking back to a quieter time.

Now why would this beautiful little child of a town be unwanted?

The answer lay in its popularity as a trade route. Horses and wagons came back and forth through Upperville which was on the way to Winchester to the West and Middleburg to the East. This made the maintenance of the road a real chore.

The law required that adult male citizens who lived within 3 miles of the road contribute 6 days a year to road repair work (the law was in effect until 1894).

Since each county in Virginia was responsible for the upkeep of its roads, Loudoun said the road was in Fauquier and vice-versa.

By the twentieth century Upperville's reputation changed from a place of burdensome road work to a place for fun, especially among the wealthy "horsey-set" who enjoyed racing their horses and drinking to celebrate their victories - if you are to believe John Updike!!!


The Hunter's Head Tavern

The Hunter's Head Tavern (circa 1750) offers a traditional English Pub menu and atmosphere. This tavern became the first restaurant in the nation to receive an animal rights group's certification for a menu with humanely raised and slaughtered fare. This certification was made by the national non-profit organization Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC), Herndon, Virginia.

The "Certified Humane Raised and Handled" label, unveiled in May 2003, assures consumers that a meat, poultry, egg, or dairy product has been produced according to HFAC's precise standards for humane farm animal treatment.

Animals must receive a nutritious diet without antibiotics or hormones and must be raised with shelter, resting areas and space sufficient to support natural behavior.

Twenty-six companies are now certified to use the label.

Hunter's Head Tavern
(Photo Courtesy Ayrshire Farm)

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Historic Ayrshire Farm
(Photo by Ron Patterson)
Click on Photo for Larger Image

Sandy Lerner owns Hunter's Head and the nearby 800-acre Ayrshire Farm. This farm supplies the tavern with most of its meat, eggs and poultry. Ms. Lerner said she pursued the certification because she fervently believes in the importance of treating farm animals humanely.

Lerner, co-founder of Cisco Systems Inc., grew up on a farm in California where what she called "farming values" were instilled in her.

On a Fall day in mid-November, 2005, we ventured into the Hunter's Head and were immediately catapulted back in time. The decor is authentically 18th Century, comfortable and pleasant.

We began with Iced Tea (very nice), a small Caesar Salad (nearly perfect), and the "Seafood Soup du Jour (creamy and wonderfully delicious).


We then ordered their Chicken Pot Pie (Tom) and the Shepherd's Pie (Ron). Folks, both were culinary delights.

We completed the meal with the finest Bread Pudding we have ever tasted - and it was a "Pumpkin" bread pudding for added pleasure. Since one of us believes himself to be a bread pudding aficionado, this was BP heaven indeed!!!

The portions of both the Chicken Pot Pie and the Shepherd's Pie were more than ample (the remains of the Shepherd's Pie became my dinner the following day).

We were both struck with the amazing taste of these entres - full, rich, smooth, and unquestioningly of the ingredients. If, in fact, our forefathers partook of such fare all those many decades ago, we would not hesitate for a second to return to that time.

With a sunny day highlighting the splendid foliage through our window, a crackling fire stirring images of our youth, and the quiet conversaton of other diners, we found the total experience as one to recommend and one to which we will return.

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Shire Horses at Ayrshire Farm in Upperville, Virginia.
Visitors are on a Tour of the Farm.

(Photo by Ron Patterson)
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The Hunter's Head is located at 9048 John Mosby Highway (Rt. 50), Upperville Virginia. Hours are 11 am to 10 pm, Tuesday through Sunday, and 5 pm through 10 pm on Monday - Phone 540-592-9020. The Tavern offers a lunch menu, a "Pub" menu with traditional British fares such as bangers and mash, Ploughman's Platter, and more, as well as a splendid dinner menu, "Afternoon Tea" fare (available by reservation only, please!), and a Sunday brunch.

We are anxiously looking forward to our next visit to Hunter's Head. A note to our site visitors: we don't usually review a restaurant after just one visit. We made an exception here because the experience was exceptional.

Our Rating (Five Chefs is Highest)





Trinity Church

Trinity Church is the only church in Meade Parish, and is named for The Rt. Rev. William Meade, a former Bishop of Virginia.

On September 30, 1842, Robert Singleton sold the trustees the land on which the church stands for $100. The present church is the third building on the site, the first having been built in 1842 and the second in 1895.

Most of the stone and wood used in the 1955 church was fashioned by local men who made their cutting tools in a forge on the grounds.

Features include wonderfully sculptured ornamentation on the pews, pulpit and columns, and the windows of the nave and choir, which were made in Amsterdam.

Trinity Episcopal Church
Click Here for More Photos

The present church was begun in 1951. The church, parish house, and rectory are the gift of Mr and Mrs Paul Mellon to Meade Parish. The architect, H. Page Cross, freely adapted French country church architecture of the 12th and 13th centuries, using a modified cruciform plan with shallow transepts, in native Warrenton sandstone. The church is filled with beautiful wood and stone carvings and the stained glass is modern but firmly rooted in the traditions of the past.

Described by Kitty Slater as a "religious architectural rarity…built for the ages in the manner of medieval cathedrals" (Kitty Slater. The Hunt Country of America Revisited. New York: Cornwall Books. 1987. 113), Trinity Church, not unlike Washington National Cathedral, was built in the medieval manner, e.g. by hand with hand-wrought tools.

Ms. Paul Mellon (Rachel) oversaw the building of the edifice and once told Ms. Slater, "I love to build." Each stone was cut by hand (unlike today's machine cutting) with special hand wrought iron tools, a labor intensive process.

The master builder was W.J. Hanback of Warrenton, a noted stone contractor for whom my (Tom) uncle Danny (Dangerfield Heulich Wine) was a master stone mason and actually worked on this church. In its fifty plus years in the Fauquier countryside, the complex has weathered with wonderful colors and clarity, and its bells "dedicated to the men of this countryside, who by their skill of hands built this church" (inscribed on the largest bell - Slater) ring out over the countryside.

"Atop its steeple, the gold cock weathervane, visible over…tree tops…seems to proclaim, as in the ancient legend, ' The angels, arising each morning in Heaven, sing out their praises to God, and on earth, the cock hears and echoes their song.'" (Slater)


Other places of interest in the Upperville area are the Blackthorne Inn (formerly 1763 Inn), Welbourne Plantation (the Delaney home), now a bed and breakfast establishment, and nearby Ashby Inn at Paris Mountain.

All in all, Upperville, Virginia, and its setting still has the charm of an earlier time, unspoiled by the encroaching urban sprawl.

Please take the time to read about the "Route 50 Corridor" - its significance and the danger it is facing.



Fauquier County Guide
Click here for a Visitor's Guide to Fauquier County.