About Bacon’s Castle
Located in Surry, Virginia, Bacon’s Castle was built in 1665, the home of plantation owner Arthur Allen. Yet the name Bacon’s Castle refers not to its original master but to the anti-colonial uprising known as Bacon’s Rebellion which banished Allen’s son and heir from the house in 1676.
Today, Bacon’s Castle is said to not only be Virginia’s oldest known brick house, but the last of example of Jacobean architecture anywhere in North America. Now managed by Preservation Virginia, the building and its gardens are open in parts of the year for tours.
History of Bacon’s Castle
Bacon’s Castle, also known as ‘Allen’s Brick House’ or the ‘Arthur Allen House’, is the oldest documented brick dwelling in the United States, and is noted as an extremely rare example of Jacobean architecture in the New World.
It was built in 1665 by wealthy merchant and Justice of the Peace Arthur Allen, and after his death four years later, was transferred to his son.
In September 1676, a number of followers of the frontiersman Nathaniel Bacon seized the house and fortified it. The organisation of these followers soon fell apart, and after a brief siege in early 1677, the rebellion ended.
The house earned its name because it was occupied as a fort or ‘castle’, though many historians think it only earned its name years after the rebellion.
It changed hands a number of times until it was finally bought by Preservation Virginia in the 1970s, who meticulously restored the house and opened it to the public in the 1980s.
Bacon’s Castle Today
Today, Bacon’s Castle is a historic house and museum open for guests. It is a house museum with 40 acres of outbuildings and dependencies, including barns, slave and tenant quarters, smokehouses, and rare examples of a 17th-century English formal garden.
Inside, there is lots of original and replica furniture which offers an insight into life within the castle, as well as local history.
Visitors can self-tour the grounds, outbuildings, and gardens throughout the year. Architecturally, the triple-stacked chimneys, shaped Flemish gables, and carved compass roses decorate the cross beams in many of the public rooms.
Inside house tours must be pre-arranged, and self-guided smartphone audio tours are also available.
Getting to Bacon’s Castle
From the centre of Surry, Virginia, the castle is a 10 minute drive via VA-10 E. For a more intrepid explorer, the castle is reachable in around two and a half hours via the VA-10 W road by foot.