Most people come to Richmond for its Civil War history, but there’s a slice of Tudor history hiding here too.
Agecroft Hall, originally built in Lancashire near the Irwell River, served as an ostentatious estate for the Langley and Dauntesey families for hundreds of years. But by the end of the 19th century, the coal mining boom in the area left the manor and surrounding grounds in less than desirable condition. The Dauntesey heirs finally left Agecroft behind, and struggled to find a new owner for it until 1926, when Richmond entrepreneur Thomas C. Williams Jr. bought the property at auction for $19,000.
Williams hoped to relocate the home to Richmond, and make it the crown jewel of a new neighborhood, Windsor Farms, modeled after the perfect English village. Despite some resistance in Parliament to moving the historic home, a new life for Agecroft Hall in the States seemed a better alternative than an unceremonious death for it in England.
With meticulous oversight from Williams’ architect, Henry G. Morse, Agecroft was then dismantled, packed, shipped, and rebuilt, keeping as many of the original design details as possible, while still allowing for 20th-century amenities to make the space a livable, modern home. Amazingly, all the pieces survived the trip across the Atlantic without damage. Charles Gillette created gardens for the new Agecroft, inspired by Elizabethan designs, while incorporating plenty of native Virginia plant life.
Williams passed away in 1929, and his widow, Elizabeth, continued to live in the home until 1967, when she turned it into a museum, as her late husband had urged in his will. Agecroft has operated as a museum ever since. Over the summer, its grounds also serve as a period-appropriate venue for live Shakespeare plays during the Richmond Shakespeare Festival.
Know Before You Go
Agecroft Hall is closed on Mondays, but it's open every other day of the week, (not counting holidays). It is possible to only see the gardens for a lower price, but it's worth it to go ahead and tour the entire house. The tour takes about an hour. During plays, you are allowed to picnic with your own food and wine before the play.