Historic Berkeley Plantation in Charles City

Berkeley Plantation

Image from Berkeley Plantation/Gary Smith Images

Celebrating 400th Anniversary

Route 5, Charles City • 12602 Harrison Landing Rd. Charles City, VA 23030
804-829-6018 • www.berkeleyplantation.com 

In 1619, after a stormy voyage across the Atlantic, the Good Ship Margaret landed at Berkeley Hundred with 36 men aboard. In accordance with the instructions given in the charter by the Virginia Company, these settlers observed the first official English Thanksgiving in the New World.  A Thanksgiving monument, film and exhibits tell the story of these brave men that settled at Berkeley Hundred 400 years ago. In 1691, the Harrisons purchased Berkeley and in 1726 they built the oldest three-story brick mansion in Virginia. The estate is the birthplace of Benjamin Harrison V, signer of the Declaration of Independence and governor of Virginia. Berkeley is also the birthplace of William Henry Harrison, ninth president of the United States, and ancestral home of his grandson, Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd president. During the Civil War, General George McClellan’s Union troops, over 100,000 soldiers, occupied the buildings and surrounding fields. General Daniel Butterfield, with the help of his bugler, O.W. Norton, created “Taps” while camped at Harrison’s Landing on Berkeley Plantation. A monument to “Taps” stands on a hilltop overlooking the historic James River. An audio recording tells the story and plays the haunting melody which echoes across the fields as it did over 150 years ago.

The mansion is beautifully furnished with a rare collection of 18th-century antiques, and costumed guides tell stories of the first Thanksgiving, the Harrisons, Civil War and the present owners of Berkeley. Native American, colonial and Civil War artifacts, along with historical paintings and exhibits, can be explored in the 18th-century basement museum. The kitchen, located in one of the original dependencies, is newly restored and furnished with colonial kitchen décor. Grounds tours are self-guided and include five terraces of gardens leading to the banks of the James River.

Tours, gift shop, museums, films, exhibits, special events and children’s activities make visiting Berkeley an educational and fun experience for the entire family.   

Berkeley, a Virginia and National Landmark, is open daily, year-round.

Click here for a Berkeley Plantation coupon.