The past will come alive in Newcastle, Del., Saturday


May 15, 1994|By Dorothy Fleetwood | Dorothy Fleetwood,Contributing Writer

Once Delaware's Colonial capital, Newcastle is a town that has been barely touched by time. The old courthouse bears witness to centuries of history. The flags of five nations (the Netherlands, Sweden, Great Britain and the United States) fly from the courthouse balcony, denoting the five changes in sovereignty during the town's early years. Children still play on the open green, and visitors hear church bells ring out the hour as they walk the cobbled streets.

Enjoy "A Day in Old New Castle" Saturday; it's the one time of the year when private homes and gardens are open to the public. This is the 70th anniversary of the event, which is the oldest house and garden tour in the country.

More than 60 sites, including 17th-, 18th-, and 19th-century homes, gardens, churches and public buildings will be open, rain or shine, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A town crier will announce the day's program, which includes weaving and candle-making demonstrations, bell ringers, carriage rides and chamber-music concerts. Food includes everything from box lunches to high tea and a gourmet buffet. You may even discover a secret garden where lemonade and cookies are served. Admission is $10. Newcastle is three miles south of the Delaware Memorial Bridge (Interstate 295) on Route 9. Free parking and shuttle service are available at the First Baptist Church. Call (302) 328-2413.

Crafts show

Nearby, at the Stanton campus of the Delaware Technical & Community College in Newark, you can attend the Masters of American Craftsmanship Show, a two-day showcase for traditional crafts. About 100 crafts people from 20 states will sell everything from folk art to handcrafted furniture and accessories for the home. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and next Sunday. Admission is $6, and proceeds will benefit the Historical Society of Delaware. The college is at 400 Stanton-Christiana Road (Exit 4B from Interstate 95). Call (302) 655-7161.

Woodlawn festival

The biggest event of the year at Woodlawn Plantation in Alexandria, Va., is the annual Heritage Festival Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The mansion, built for George and Martha Washington's granddaughter, Nellie Custis Lewis, is the setting

for 18th- and 19th-century food, crafts, music and dancing. Antiques dealers and juried crafts people will set up shop on the grounds, and there will be demonstrations of open-hearth cooking, weaving, carving and other period crafts. Children can learn games of the era, and 18th- and 19th-century dance instruction will take place on the Green.

The festival runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Rain date is May 22. Admission is $4 for adults; $2 for seniors and students; free for under 5. Woodlawn is at the intersection of U.S. 1 and Virginia Route 235 in Alexandria. Call (703) 780-4000.

Virginia gardens

A two-day tour of gardens in and around Middleburg, Va., will take place Saturday and next Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The six-garden tour offers a look at cottage gardens in Middleburg, where more than 160 buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register, and then travels to estate gardens in Virginia's Hunt Country.

Participants will see a walled garden on the estate of the late Bettina Belmont Ward of Belmont Stakes racing fame; Willow Oaks, the estate of Ambassador to France Pamela Harriman; and Cold Crick Farm, a peaceful setting where native and exotic plants grow. A free garden market will be held both days of the tour on the lawn of the Community Center, 300 W. Washington St., where you can attend informal seminars by gardening experts and find a large selection of plants and gardening accessories.

Tickets cost $10; free for children under 12. They are available on tour day at Middleburg Elementary School on North Madison Street (Route 626). Call (703) 787-9483.

Civil War revisited

The 19th Georgia Infantry will present a Civil War Encampment Saturday and next Sunday on the grounds of the Carroll County Farm Museum in Westminster. The camp will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Re-enactors will present drilling, firing and signal-corps demonstrations as well as a skirmish both days. The farmhouse will also be open to tour. Saturday's visitors can attend a tea in the flower garden and a cakewalk demonstration. That evening from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., a Civil War dance will be held on the grounds. A show of period fashions is scheduled Sunday.

Admission is $3 for adults; $2 for children ages 12 to 18 and seniors; free for under 12. Call (410) 876-2667.

Fair Hill gathering

The stirring spectacle of massed pipes and drums can be seen Saturday at the 32nd annual Colonial Highland Gathering in Fair Hill, where a full day of Scottish fare is planned from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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