Henricus celebrates 400th anniversary

08/09/2011
Field Trip Destination

It was 400 years ago, in September of 1611, when 350 men and boys moved west up Virginia’s James River to settle on an area of land near today’s city of Richmond. Having come from James-town, the first successful English settlement in North America, these people, under the leadership of Sir Thomas Dale, began to erect palisades near a bend in the river. This first settlement, named “Henryco” — later known as “Henricus” — was chartered by King James of England and named for his eldest son, Prince Henry. This site was originally intended to become the new capital or “principal seat of the County.”

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Although Henricus was partially destroyed during the Indian uprising of 1622 and then had its charter revoked by King James, never becoming the “principal seat” of the colony, it did provide some very important milestones in early American history:

  • Experiments in early representative government and public education,
  • Development of a profitable commerce (tobacco),
  • The building of the first English hospital in the America (Mt. Malady).

This area, located on a strategic point of land on the James River, also played a part in both Revolutionary and Civil War history. During the latter part of the Revolutionary War, British General Benedict Arnold surprised the Virginia Navy at Osborne’s Landing, capturing or capsizing nine American ships. Union troops during the Civil War extended the “Dutch Gap” through the area of Farrar’s Island, beginning the redirection of the James River that would be completed in the 20th century.

Henricus Historical Park commemorates 400 years of history

September 17th and 18th, 2011, will commemorate the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Citie of Henricus. This commemoration will be the culminating event in our Year of Henricus. During this weekend, Jamestown Foundation’s sailing ship, Godspeed, will dock at Henricus for the public to tour. More than 100 professionals will re-enact the English and Virginia Indian ways of life of 400 years ago. In our re-created Powhatan community of Arrohateck — complete with longhouses, farm land and canoe and tool making sites, will be Indian re-enactors re-creating the daily lives of men and women as hunters and farmers and in cooking, making tools, clothing, pottery weapons. On the English “Citie” side of the site will be soldiers and tradesmen (coppersmiths, blacksmiths and wood workers), will be joined by farmers, tobacco growers and those performing household chores (cooking, laundry, making clothing). Others will interpret the lives of musicians, story tellers, traders, tailors, merchants, barber-surgeons, lace  makers and several historical figures. On the bluff, overlooking the James River, Revolutionary and Civil War Re-enactors will join Educators and Environmental Naturalists with family activities to help commemorate 400 years of history.

School Group Tours — Godspeed Days: September 19 and 20.Specialized tours of Henricus and the Godspeed ship will be held for school groups on Sept. 19-20. All tours will last two and one-half hours; this is fee-based and pre-registration is required. Please call 804-318-8797 to register for these educational tours. Limited space is available. This is a one-time event!

For more information, please visit our Web site at www.henricus.org.

School Programs at Henricus Historical Park — Beginning October, 2011, Henricus Historical Park will introduce new programs — targeting grades Pre-K–12 — taking students deeply into both English and Virginia Indian life on the James River. The lives of 17th Century people — Pocahontas, Sir Thomas Dale, Alexander Whittaker, and of indentured servants, craftsmen, planters and soldiers will be examined.

For more information call 804-318-8797 or visit www.henricus.org.
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