Weddings, History and Crafts, Oh My!
One of my favorite things about traveling is finding those perfect little gems that I can’t wait to share with you. On my last trip to Richmond, Virginia I stumbled upon just such a gem! May I introduce you to the historical Virginia Cliffe Inn.
I’ll be honest, the first thing that drew me to this place was the fact that all of their beds have quilts on them! As I perused their website photo gallery, picture after picture of their rooms all showed quilts. Somehow, I just knew this was a place I had to visit. Boy was I pleasantly surprised when I arrived and learned the amazing history of the land, the house and the Inn from it’s owner, Janice Clifton.
Located just outside Richmond in the little town of Glen Allen, VA, the history of the property actually goes all the way back to our Nation’s founding. The Virginia Cliffe Inn sits on the corner of Mountain Road and Old Washington Highway. Mountain Road is known as the second oldest road in the nation and was the main route to get from Richmond to the Virginia Mountains. In fact, Thomas Jefferson used to travel that road many times on his way to and from his Monticello home.
Old Washington road leads East/West and use the road used to move our capital from Richmond to Washington DC.
Oh, but that’s not all. During the Civil War as Union Army was taking Richmond (the capital of the Confederacy) from the hands of Jefferson Davis, the property was used a camp for thousands of Union soldiers. “In a battle, Jeb Stuart was killed about ½ mile from the Inn.”
History of the house
The original house on the property was built in 1850. After surviving the Civil War and God knows what else throughout the years, Janice’s parents, James and Margaret Clifton purchased the home in 1950 to raise their four children. However, the foundation became deteriorated beyond repair. By the late 1960’s Mr. Clifton decided to dismantle the house while salvaging as much of the original wood as possible and rebuilt the current house on the same footprint with a much better foundation. Modeled after ‘George Washington’s former military camp in Newburgh, NY’, the house was finished in 1971.
An artist himself, Janice’s brother hand printed the paintings on the dining room walls and the foyer ceiling. You can definitely feel the love that went into this place oozing from every corner.
Today the house is an official even venue hosting everything from corporate events to family reunions, and even a wine festival! But the main events hosted by the Virginia Cliffe Inn are weddings.
With the pond and a perfect size pavilion out back, the property provides a beautiful spot for every bride’s special day. There’s even a Bride’s Quarters building adjacent to the house so the Bridal party can stretch out and not be disturbed before the festivities begin!
Christmas at Granny’s Craft Show
Y’all. The Inn hosts the most amazing Craft show every Christmas called Christmas at Granny’s. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever attended. It all started years ago when Mrs. Clifton and her daughter Janice ran Granny’s Attic in Laurel Park, VA. It was half consignment and half craft store. In 1980 they decided to bring the crafts over to the house and open it up for guests as a Christmas craft show. Christmas as Granny’s was born! That first year they had about 30 crafters and 850 guests. The show was so popular it quickly grew to 5,000 guests. So, they increased it to a week long event and they had 10,000 people visit the show. Why all the excitement? Oh, let me tell you.
For a few days this beautiful house is filled with every craft you can imagine all made by local crafters. Everything from ornaments and wreaths to soaps and jewelry to paintings and quilts! They have it all. But the trick is there are no booths. Every piece has a tag and they are placed all around the house in every room and every corner. On the walls, in the sinks, and even in the closets. There’s something different everywhere you look. Doesn’t that sound magical?
After several years not hosting the show due to running the Bed and Breakfast and caring for her parents, Janice decide in 2017 to give the show another go. Interest has quickly grown and the show is swiftly on the way back to its former glory. Now with the pavilion out back, some 3rd party vendors have the option of setting up a small booth there but still only hand made crafts are displayed inside the house. There is homemade spiced tea and baked goods available for tasting and purchase. You can get something to eat and shop the house while listening to Christmas music being played on Janice’s sister’s antique piano.
My Stay at the inn
Between the history, the weddings and the Craft show, the Virginia Cliffe Inn is also a fully working Bed and Breakfast. After checking in and dropping off my things I went into town to visit the White House of the Confederacy. After dinner I returned to the Inn right at sunset. I knew there were other guests in the house but it was still very quiet. So, I set up my laptop in the dining room and enjoyed the quiet jazz music coming from the parlor while having a cup of tea. I’m telling you, it felt like home.
The next morning, I was up at sunrise with the swans. So, I headed outside to enjoy the sunrise and say hello to the Inn’s permanent residents, Romeo and Juliet. The swans provide the perfect added ambiance for wedding and house guest alike. On my particular visit Juliet was in a delicate condition, as they say, so Romeo was very protective of her. Every time I got near the pond, he was on me like white on rice letting me know, in no uncertain terms that this was his pond and I was their guest. Oh, and don’t mess with his woman. Lol
After heading back inside for a warm cup of coffee I discovered a man making breakfast. He very politely informed me that breakfast would be ready about 8:30 and asked if myself and the other guests could wait in the parlor until he called us in to eat. Y’all, I felt like I was back at my Mamaw’s house waiting with my cousins for breakfast to be served.
Sitting in the parlor I was able to meet my fellow house guests. There was a lovely couple from Virginia that was on a short weekend vacation to visit the breweries in the area. Apparently, the Richmond area has several. They told me about their recent visit to Vietnam (where her family’s from) and about this insanely cool website called MekongQuilts.com. It is a group that provides sustainable employment for under-privileged women in Vietnam and Cambodia by creating art and Quilts! That very moment Vietnam was added to my Bucket List.
Breakfast is Served
At precisely 8:30 we all say down at the table for an incredible breakfast. There was fresh coffee, orange juice, pastries, waffles, bacon, eggs, fruit, yogurt, oatmeal and toast. It’s a good thing we brought out appetites because the food was delicious. As no one was in any particular hurry, we all sat around the table enjoying lovely conversation for at least an hour or two. I learned one fellow guest and his wife were active duty military. Stationed in separate states, meeting at the Inn on the weekend is the perfect half way point for them to see each other even if for a brief time.
Whether you are in the market for the perfect wedding venue, a one of a kind Christmas craft show, or a weekend rendezvous, I highly recommend a stop by the Virginia Cliffe Inn. It’s one experience you won’t soon forget.
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