Some of you know that last year I traveled to Scotland with my wife and our friends the Dietrichs. I had picked Scotland for five reasons: history, Scotch, salmon, hiking, and golf. Brenda liked 3 out of the 5 so things were fine. Turns out she liked the Scotch, too. But, one of the reasons I wanted to travel to Scotland was this vague feeling that since King James I was born there, then there must be some heritage of mine there. Turns out I was wrong, but it did lead me to begin exploring my ancestral roots, as I am sure many of you have attempted to do as well. So, upon returning from Scotland, I began in earnest to follow my “roots”, wherever they lead. So this blog, dear reader, takes you to the Northern Neck of Virginia where my great, great, great, great….maternal grandfather, Thomas Glascock (1640-1701) or his son George (1675-1714) built Indian Banks in 1699. In early December of this past year, I set out to see Indian Banks, on the banks of the Rappahannock River. It is still there, lo these many years, and is a private residence. It is one of the oldest preserved, non-renovated, residences in the Commonwealth. Admittedly, I was quite moved to stand on the grounds and view where my mother’s side of the family originated here in the United States. I could not help but take a few pictures. So as to not disturb the residents and owners, I discretely took them from afar.
Before visiting Indian Banks, however, I made a trip to Montross, Virginia to the Northern Neck of Virginia Historical Society research library. There I discovered more information about the Glascock family originating in Essex England, and some records linking the Glascock name to SCOTLAND. I made it!! And this has only whetted my appetite to continuing exploring my “roots”.
This whole day was quite thrilling as you can imagine, but after traveling around the Northern Neck area, without lunch, I was rather tired and famished. Fortunately, I had booked a room in Irvington at one of the most wonderful boutique hotels in which I have had the pleasure of staying, The Hope and Glory (hopeandglory.com). I was greeted by Peggy Patteson, who owns the property with her husband Dudley. Peggy informed me that I was welcome to dine at the Inn that evening as they also serve dinner. I had to decline as I wanted to try Merroir (like terroir but of the sea) restaurant, owned by the Rappahannock Oyster Company (more about this later). Peggy showed me around the Inn (as I will call it) which I found quite charming.
After the brief tour, I was shown to my private “cottage” for the evening which was very, very relaxing with a bedroom and sitting room separate. To whet your appetite to travel to Irvington, here are a few pictures.
After I told Peggy of my wanting to go the Merroir for dinner, she insisted that I try one of Hope and Glory’s specialties, Glorified Oysters. Very simply, raw oysters in shell, with pesto, covered with melted Pecorino cheese, just add a couple of shakes of hot sauce, enjoy. It was Glorious! My compliments to the creator of the dish. For your edification, here is proof.
So, now, onto Merroir for some serious oyster tasting. If you are not familiar with Merroir (Topping, Virginia), here are a few bits of information.
They are located on a side road, hard to find, even with a GPS or Garmin. So, please call or ask. They raise and harvest sustainable oysters from the Rappahannock River (as mentioned in Nature Magazine, December, 2015). They provide these oysters, as well as others from surrounding areas, to restaurants throughout the Mid-Atlantic. If you choose to go in the summer, beware. It can get crowed on the Point. But, I can attest it is well worth it! I had a dozen raw oysters and determined that I like the Olde Salts (Chincoteague) the best for their briny taste.
Each of the oysters I tried were quite different, but they were all delicious. After the oysters, basic salad (something green) and oyster chowder. I think I could have gone swimming with the oysters that night. Merroir is a great restaurant (tasting room), on the list of 30 restaurants to try before you die in Virginia. So, I only have 20 more to go. Here is the link to Merroir and Rappahannock Oyster Co. (rroysters.com)
Alas, I must now head back to my patiently waiting dog, Zeus. But on the way back I detoured to Stratford Hall, the home of the Lee family of Virginia (you know Francis Lightfoot Lee, Robert E. Lee, Light Horse Harry Lee, etc.) This in and of itself is worth a trip to the Northern Neck. They give a very nice tour, the grounds are expansive, and they have a quaint restaurant for lunch. Just an aside, Indian Banks, my ancestral home was built before Stratford Hall (just sayin’).
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not tell you that the Northern Neck was the birthplace of 3 of our first 5 presidents; Washington, Madison, and Monroe. There is so much history here that I cannot adequately convey the importance of the area during our founding years.
Beginning with Captain John Smith in 1607/8 and continuing to this day, the area is rich in history but particularly of the Continental era. In fact, the beginnings of our country are directly intertwined with the Norther Neck of Virginia. To learn more, visit nnvhs.org and northernneck.org. There you will find information on suggested itineraries, restaurants, lodging, and adventures.
So, whether or not your “roots” are in the Northern Neck, I am sure you would enjoy exploring the area for its history, scenery, food, and quaint towns. Enjoy!