Colonial Williamsburg’s Royal Palace
There are so many amazing historic attractions to see when you visit Colonial Williamsburg. One attraction that truly stands out in the Historic Area is the Governor’s Palace.
History of the Governor’s Palace
Construction of the Governor’s Palace began after Governor Edward Nott received authorization from the General Assembly in Oct. 23, 1705. Contractor Henry Cary was instructed to erect a two-story brick house, that featured sash windows, a cellar, vault, kitchen and stable, on 63 acres of land.
The Palace was complete in 1722. The ornate building had three floors and was guarded by stone unicorn and lion statues on both sides of the gate. While the palace was much more subdued in stature compared to a European palace, it was certainly marveled in colonial Virginia.
In addition to being the residence for the governors at the time, the Palace was also used to host elegant balls, galas and other large events. The Governor’s Palace was the site of a treaty signed by a Cherokee chief, birthday parties for kings and queens as well as holiday balls.
Thomas Jefferson was the last governor to live in the Governor’s Palace. In 1780, the government moved to Richmond and the following year, the Palace was made into a hospital for American soldiers wounded in the Battle of Yorktown.
In 1781, the Governor’s Palace was destroyed in a fire. Following the Revolutionary Way, the College of Williams and Mary used the grounds as school buildings. After an archaeological dig unearthed the remains of an original wall, the cellar and other artifacts, Palace reconstruction began in 1930s.
Governors Who Lived in the Governor’s Palace
Nine governors resided in the Governor’s Palace: Alexander Spotswood, Hugh Drysdale, William Gooch, Robert Dinwiddie, Francis Fauquier, Norborne Berkeley, John Murray, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson.
Tour the Governor’s Palace
While its free to take pictures outside the Governor’s Palace when you visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area, you may want to get a more in-depth look at this royal palace. By purchasing a ticket to Colonial Williamsburg, you can take a self-guided tour of the Governor’s Palace from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. See the elegant décor and grand rooms for yourself, and get a glimpse at what life was like for the 18th-century elite.
Children’s Tour of the Palace
Colonial Williamsburg offers a tour of the Governor’s Palace designed specifically for children grades pre-K through sixth. The tour focuses on the life of the governor and his family during their time at the Palace.
Children’s Tour of the Palace is available select dates, with tours beginning at 10:30 a.m. and noon.