Just as he does on a regular basis as part of his job as Museum Interpreter at Bacon’s Castle, Ryan Taylor kept the members at a recent Rotary Club meeting in stitches as he shared the most interesting and amusing interpretation of Bacon’s Rebellion imaginable. And there’s a good reason why the charming young Surry native can so thoroughly and hilariously relate the factual, if amazing, story. He’s actually traced his family history all the way back to Nathaniel Bacon!
“Nathaniel Bacon’s father is my eleventh great grandfather!” he said, at the end of a 35 minute non-stop romp through the historical events leading up to and including Bacon’s Rebellion.
After relating how Bacon was single-handedly responsible for the burning of Jamestown he shared that Bacon’s body was buried secretly, at night, in an unmarked grave to protect it from anyone who might want to dig it up in retaliation for some of his not-so-well-known historical antics.
Describing how Bacon led a troop of unruly rebels to Arthur Allen’s Brick House – now known as Bacon’s Castle – September of 1676, he delivered a deadpan recounting of how Bacon, “Did what any well-respected guest would do. They immediately dived down into the basement, drank all the wine and liquor, and in the three months they were there they broke into the barn and smoked all the tobacco, broke out the windows, and completely dug up the grounds looking for buried family silver.”
Then he shared how, when Bacon became ill with typhus, the doctor prescribed a healthy dose of a mixture of brandy, grain alcohol, and local creek water – “Which did what? That’s right – added dysentery to his other gruesome symptoms.”
The subject matter was not funny, but the delivery was hilarious. And one after another, he presented little-known facts in such a charming and witty manner that he kept the audience spellbound throughout.
Speaking of his job at Bacon’s Castle after the presentation, Taylor condensed all the information he had just shared, saying, “In a nutshell, Bacon’s castle gets its name from Bacon’s rebellion, when 70 of Bacon’s rebels took over the house and used it as a fort. What started off in Northern Virginia as a mishap when a wrong Indian tribe was attacked and an Indian war broke out, the rich, spoiled, newly arrived British punk named Bacon eventually led several hundred disgruntled guys who wrongfully attacked tribes, tried to get the governor assassinated, and led the rebellion to burn Jamestown to the ground – the very first uprising in America’s history.”
He said that he knew so many details “Because of the family connection. I was born and raised in the Surry area, and wanted to work at Bacon’s Castle because I had always enjoyed the house. I learned so much about the rebellion because I got into genealogy with my Dad. Our family’s been here almost 400 years. Virginia history is my thing. Always has been. Being Virginian is my best quality. I’m very proud of that. It’s the only place I‘m ever going to live.”
Bacon’s Castle, where Taylor provides tours nearly every day that the historic site is open, is the oldest documented house in Virginia and the oldest brick house on the entire North American continent. Built in 1665, it is one of only three examples of High Jacobean Architecture in the whole Western Hemisphere.
In addition to tours, Bacon’s Castle offers year round special events like upcoming Smithsonian Museum Magazine Day September 21, African-American History at Bacon’s Castle Day September 28, Bacon’s Castle Archaeology day and Historic Haunt Nights in October and Guy Fawkes Day in December.
Bacon’s Castle is located at 465 Bacons Castle Trail, Surry, and is open year-round on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 – 5 and Sunday from noon until 5, as well as Mondays from Memorial Day until Labor Day. For further information or reservations for special events call 757-357-5976.