The Ware River Circle of the Kings Daughters & Sons will host its 28th annual Christmas Open House at Little England on Tuesday, December 12. Festivities will include finger foods and champagne punch. The decorating committee co-chaired by Tina McManus and Helene Watts, will transform this historic home into a Christmas delight. The proceeds from the event will benefit the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters, Ronald McDonald House and other charities of the WRCKD&S.
Donations are $25.00 and checks should be made out to WRCKD&S. Tickets are available at the Silver Box (Main Street, Gloucester), Angelwing Stationers (Main Street, Gloucester), Sue Hewitt, (804-241-2757), or any other member of The Circle. There will be four sessions from which to choose-noon to 1 p.m.; 1:30 to 2:30; 3-4 and 4:30-5:30. Tickets are limited to 125 guests per session.
Little England, a majestic grand dame of colonial architecture, sits on 58 acres of land facing the George P. Coleman Bridge to the west. Her north shore touches the York River and the southern shore borders Sarah's Creek. John Perrin built Little England c. 1716. It is believed that Sir Christopher Wren drew the plans for the two and half story Flemish bond brick structure. Typical of colonial design, there is a central grand hall, flanked on either side by matching rooms. Hand-painted wallpaper of battle scenes is a prominent feature in the dining room along with unusually large windows and detailed panels that also adorn the parlor. The frame wing was built earlier. c. 1690.
It was said that brick homes of substance were located a mile apart along the north shore of the York River during early colonial settlement. Little England was the first to greet ships as they sailed inland and is one of the few still in existence. Over the centuries, Little England has witnessed the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781, housed a military hospital during the War of 1812, and served as a garrison in the Civil War.
Mr. Theodore Pratt, grandson of a founder of Standard Oil and The Pratt Institute, purchased the property in 1940 and restored the house to its truest colonial glory. During the Pratts' tenure, Little England was the center of social life in Gloucester. Mr. And Mrs. Pratt also developed a daffodil farm and donated many plants to the National Arboretum in Washington. After Mr. Pratt's death in 1977, ownership of Little England passed into the hands of a German family. Little England was unoccupied for 25 years until the Mr. And Mrs. Stephen Barrs drove down the cedar-lined lane.
Mr. & Mrs. Stephen Barrs, the present owners, are a young family. While maintaining the integrity of the antique home, they have created a warm, relaxed aura where they and their three boys can live in relaxed comfort without foreboding imaginary velvet ropes found in museums.
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