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Edgehill is representative of historic homes in Lancaster County, Virginia.Its origin and construction can be traced to pre 1738. It is listed among the Lancaster's Historic Sites identified in the Mary Ball Historical Society. Though upgraded over the years, it retains in general its original appearance. The house has an appealing siting on a hillside overlooking tilled fields and mature woods that flank its property's perimeter. It is located on Edgehill Lane which is off VSH 354 directly across the highway from the road going to Belle Isle State Park.

Information about Edgehill Plantation is presented in the following sections:
1. Historical events
2. Property description
3. Ownership history
4. Buildings descriptions
5. Photos

Historical events

It is recorded that Edgehill existed prior to 1738 when Colonel James Ball purchased it from Captain John Stott. A story has it that George Washington's father-in-law, laid the foundation of the home's original in-kitchen fireplace. I believe it's only a story and can find no supporting evidence.

During a ceremony at Edgehill in March 1862, the Girls of Saint Mary's Chapel presented the Flag of Company D, of the 9th Virginia Cavalry, to that Company. The southeastern corner of the property, where there is a stream and robust spring, was used as the staging area for the Company's members for that ceremony. Captain John Murphy of Lancaster was the commander at that time.

Property description

The property is bounded on the south and west sides by Virginia State Highway 354 for approximately twenty-five hundred feet. The north and east sides are defined by a rambling streambed. It currently consists of one hundred and seventeen acres. Approximately fifty acres are tilled; ten acres are in pine tree crop, two acres in homeland and the rest in mature natural forest. Most of the flat land is tilled. The hill and streambed areas are in forest. Its three tilled areas are noted for their productivity and continue to provide bountiful crops of corn, soybeans, wheat, etc. The wooded areas harbor deer, wild turkeys and rabbits. Edgehill Lane is the road leading from VSH354 to the homesite.

Ownership history

In the seventeenth century, the Moraughtacunds Indian tribe occupied this land area on the Northern Neck. Only God knows how long they resided here or occupied it before then. It is possible that John Smith set foot near the Edgehill plantation property during either his first travel in this area, somewhat against his will as a captive of the Indian Chief Opechacanoough, or on his return in 1608 to explore the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers and the rest of the bay region. He might have noted the Deep Creek estuary as a great place to fish, i.e., "The fish were at times so abundant that Captain Smith's party, without nets, tried to catch them once with a frying pan. That didn't work, but they had more success when, during a low tide that trapped some fish in the marsh grasses, they speared them with their swords."
When Charles II of England was restored to the throne in 1660, the land grants he had bestowed while in exile took effect. Consequently those who served as its agents achieved huge land patents. In this environment Bryan Stott, Joseph Ball and others might have acquired patents for large tracts of land in the Morattico area. Mr. Stott's patent might have originally consisted of several hundreds of acres extending around the Morattico area all the way to the Deep Creek inlet on the Rappahannock River. (The Lancaster County patent book 8 at page 82 cites the Bryan Stott patent 640 acres in Lancaster County on the east side of Morratico Creek. Bryan Stott's first wife had six children, the youngest being named John. This might be the same John Stott that sold it to James Ball in 1738.)
The Deep Creek estuary on the Rappahannock River was important to the people living in this area at that time in that their harvested tobacco was stored in public warehouse on its shores. In 1756 a fire destroyed all of the tobacco stored there. Because of that fire, Captain Henry Tapscott, then owner of Edgehill, and others were relieved of the duty they had paid to the Crown for their tobacco stored there . Recently, Dan Tapscott speculated that there was a road from Nuttsville directly through Edgehill Plantation to the Belle Isle Park side of Deep Creek. In the Spring of 2003, Mrs. M. Hull, who lived at Edgehill circa 1920, gave testimony to the fact that indeed "a path well traveled, went directly through Edgehill plantation from Deep Creek to Nutsville."

Prior to 1738 - The earliest recorded history of Edgehill shows that John Stott owned it.
1738 - April 22, James Ball, son of Joseph, acquired the plantation from John Stott and evidently that same year sold it to Captain Henry Tapscott. While the Tapscott family owned the property from 1738 to the 1870s, it's not clear who actually lived there during all that time.The Captain moved on to Stony Hill. Chichester Tapscott, a decendent of Henry, lived there for some time. Chichester was killed in the Civil War and soon thereafter his widow married Captain Fairfax Mitchell, and this is how the property passed from the Tapscott to the Mitchell family.(The later provided in a note by Mrs. Chichester Tapscott Pierce.)
1910 - George Jenkins acquired Edgehill from the Robert Mitchell estate. (DB 56 p. 410)
1919 - Melinda Clarke acquired Edgehill. (DB 61 p. 481)
1939 - Ralph Talbot acquired Edgehill (DB 73 p. 240)
1982 - Robert Proutt acquired Edgehill. (DB 234 p. 288)
1998 - Frank Schwartz acquired Edgehill. (DB 405 p. 823) (The first time a survey and property plat was executed.)

The Buildings

Edgehill's homestead is positioned in a two acre grassed area located in the center of the plantation. It contains the main house and three dependency buildings; a Studio, Root house and Barn. Edgehill Lane leads from VA SH 354 for six hundred and twenty five feet to the homestead area.
1.The Main House.
It is in the center of the homestead area and situated with its front facing the west overlooking the south and west tilled fields. This is the original homesite and sections of the original foundation exist under the present structure. A large front porch affords opportunity to view and enjoy cool breezes and captivating sunsets. A large screened in porch on the north side of the house is preferred for enjoyment later in the evening. This porch has views of the north and eastern tilled fields.
The home has undergone two significant modifications;

The home's brick walled basement (20' x 20') is under the addition added in the 1830 period. The first floor contains a large living room, a dining room, half-bath, and an entrance foyer with an oak railed stairway to the second floor. The dining room, foyer and living room have lovely natural wide oak flooring. The living room has a mantled fireplace. The second floor includes two medium and one large bedrooms, and one full bathroom. The large bedroom includes a fireplace. The upstairs has narrow strip oak floors. The kitchen area, which includes a storage room, is under construction. It contains an old style enameled double sink with side drain shelves. Interior walls throughout the entire house are smooth finish plasters over batten boards.
It has three covered porch areas - a large one in the front, a screened one off the living room and a smaller one off the kitchen. Its entire roof is covered in beautiful random sized blue/gray slate.
The home's water source is from a brick lined well, five feet in diameter that was most likely dug and built in the 1830-renovation period. Its bricks are the same as those used in the basement of the addition in the home. Two active streams feed the well approximately thirty feet below ground level. Mrs. M. Hull, who lived at Edgehill circa 1925, tells the story about the well being "a favority stopping place for all those who traveled on a path that existed between Deep Creek and Nutsville. "The well was known miles around for its water's purity and flavor."
Much work is to be done to restore this home. It was neglected for many years but fortunately the fine slate roof has kept its interior in relatively good shape.

2.The Caretaker's Quarters (The Studio)
This is a two story building. The bottom level was originally used as a garage. The top section was divided into three rooms - what appeared to be a living area and two small "Bunk Bed/Storage" areas with very tiny closets. This structure and the Root house were part of the second renovation (circa 1939) mentioned above. It has been completely renovated and enlarged to include a living room, dining area and kitchen upstairs, and a bedroom, entrance foyer and full bath downstairs. Its living room has a beamed cathedral ceiling and the original beautiful random width oak floor. A sliding glass door leads from the living room to a large deck that overlooks tilled fields. The bedroom also has a wood floor. The entrance foyer and bathroom have slate and tiled floors. An oak treaded spiral staircase in the entrance foyer joins the first and second floors. The majority of the Studio has a slate roof like the ones over the Main and Root houses.

3.The Root building
This is an 8' x 6' concrete block structure with a slate roof. It has one door and no windows. It was originally used for storing root vegetables. Its ceiling is exposed and the rafters have nail holders everywhere possible.

4.The Garage/Barn
This new addition to the plantation was built in 2001. It is a 40' x 26' structure that includes a loft area on the top floor. Its sides are covered with planks that match the wide cedar siding of the main house. It has a metal roof, two metal garage doors in the front and one in the back. Its main floor is smooth finish concrete.

Photo album

The photos are grouped as follows:
Buildings complex
Main house
Root building


A view from the north toward buildings on the homestead. From left to right, the barn/garage, the Root building (barely visible behind the tree), Studio and Main House.



Two views of the front of the Main house, from a distance and closer up



This is completely renovated with new kitchen and bath facilities. Its front faces north, its deck faces west and provides ample opportunity to view the pastoral setting of the tilled fields accompanied by spectacular sunsets.

The west side of the Studio.

The view from the deck.

Rappahannock's bounty - served frequently at the Studio's deck.

A concrete block structure in its original form (circa 1939), except for fresh paint.
The exposed inside rafters are riddled with nails once used in to hang various root vegetables and whatever.
The Barn/Garage
Built in 2001 and suitable for storing cars, boats, tractors, tools, etc.
Associated links

There are several Web sites containing other relative interesting and informative historical data about the Edgehill plantation area. I have chosen not to list them in order to keep these pages immune from their dynamics. I suggest using keywords in your search engine such as Virginia homes, Deep Creek, Henry Tapscott, Belle Island, etc.

© 2002- F. Schwartz

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