Hunt Country Stable Tour - Rock Hill Farm
Rock Hill Farm
One of the
events that Colonial Sense listed in the Event Calendar section was for the 55th Annual Hunt Country Stable Tour which was held in Middleburg and Upperville, Virginia on May 24th and 25th. The emphasis of the tour was not the houses where the owners lived but was more of a tour of the stables where the horses lived. Some of the stables were quite luxurious.

Hunt Country Stable Tour - Trinity Episcopal Church with Country Fair vendors
Trinity Episcopal Church with Country Fair vendors
The tour was sponsored by the Trinity Episcopal Church and is their major fundraiser for the year. The church is a free adaption of a 12-13th century French country church given by Mr. and Mrs Paul Mellon in 1960. A country fair was held on the premises of the church with various food and craft vendors.

Upperville is a quaint country colonial town which has been designated as an Historic Landmark and has been described as "a mile long and an inch wide." The town was named Carr Town after the mill owner, James Carr in 1790. By 1807 when the town received its first post office, it was called Upperville.

East of the town lies the oldest horse show in the United States - the Upperville Colt and Horse Show established in 1853 by Colonel Richard Henry Dulany.

Hunt Country Stable Tour - Caliburn Farm
Caliburn Farm
The Colonial Virginians called Middleburg "Chinn's Crossing" in 1731. The land was originally owned by a cousin of George Washington. The Virginia Assembly established the town of Middleburg in 1787. The town had received its name because it was a midway overnight stop on the Pike between Alexandria and Winchester.

Although Poplar Grange has a Marshall, Virginia address, Middleburg and Upperville is the center of the famous "Hunt Country" which is home to internationally recognized Thoroughbred farms.

One of those is Trappe Hill Farm with 550 acres which lie on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The owners Edie and Bruce Smart raise Thoroughbreds which they either sell or race. One of the methods to train racing horses is to let them swim which is a therapeutic way to help them get ready for racing. Swimming demonstrations were given each day in the pond on the property. The Smarts also has eleven retired horses in the stables.

Hunt Country Stable Tour - Trappe Hill Farm
Trappe Hill Farm
One of the stalls was empty of any horse and was filled with literature. We were told at one time it was the stall of Flower Alley, the sire if I'll Haven Another who had won the 138th Kentucky Derby. Bruce and Edie Smart purchased Flower Alley at the Keeneland November 2002 sale for $50,000. Seeing that they could triple their money, the Smart's sold Flower Alley at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale for $165,000.

Melnyk Racing Stables purchased Flower Alley.

Flower Alley went on to win the $1,000,000 in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga on August 27, 2005 and Lane's End Stakes, the Jim Dandy and the Salvator Mile. The career winnings for Flower Alley were $2,533,910. Flower Alley as currently at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky.

Located on the border of Loudoun and Fauquier Counties, Belle Gray Farm was also on the tour. They specialize in young horse development with two championship trainers on the staff. With a master craftsman on staff, they can also construct custom jumps.

Hunt Country Stable Tour - Poplar Grange Farm
Poplar Grange Farm
A local builder, Jimmy Fletcher, restored and converted an old dairy barn at Caliburn Farm which is owned by Gail Dady to a state of the art show barn. The horses are quite comfortable with oversized stalls and wide aisles. Dressage horses and riders along with young jumpers are trained on premises. The horses housed are of European descent - Hanoverians, Holsteiners, Oldenburgs, and Selle Francais.

It was the dream of a an accomplished local rider, Michael Smith to own a farm in the Hunt Country region. His dream came true when he purchased Poplar Grange on Atoka Road. The stables house several steeplechase horses, international jumpers, and race horses.

One of the horses, Pablo II, competed in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. Another race horse, Paris North, won numerous championships. Although when we were in the stable, Paris North was a little uneasy because his wonderful friend was taken out of the stall next to him, Agnus, the lovable miniature pony.

Hunt Country Stable Tour - Horse at Caliburn Farm
Horse at Caliburn Farm
Fox Chase Farm is a famous landmark on John Mosby Highway. It has been featured in The Amazing Race on CBS, The Today Show on NBC, and a few other reality television shows. The Hanley family purchased the farm in 2000. Along Route 50 is a one acre large outdoor riding arena.

Polo is a very import sport at Banbury Cross Farm with three polo fields on the property. The acreage also includes a schooling grass field, cross-country jumps, trails to support fox hunting, and a Jeffersonian Style 18 stall barn, The Main Foxhunter Barn.

Hunt Country Stable Tour - Gardens at Rock Hill Farm
Gardens at Rock Hill Farm
The 463 acres at Wind Field Farm borders Goose Creek and is one of the oldest colonial properties on the tour. The land was part of the original 5,181,000 acres granted from King Charles II to and Thomas sixth Lord Fairfax. Perhaps the wealthiest man in Virginia and having leases on 300,000 acres was Colonel Robert Carter. His first purchase in Loudoun County in 1727 was the Goose Creek Tract.

The land at Wind Fields Farm was not settled until the 1740's. Prior to that, settlers were either slaves or servants farming the land under the direction of a farm overseer. A slave graveyard is located on the eastern part of the property.

The ownership of the property transferred from the lessors to the owners in 1785 after the Revolutionary War. Although Wind Fields Farm was owned by Horace Luckett, a prosperous farmer and lawyer, in 1827, the property mostly stayed in the Carter family. The Main house and corn crib were built in 1853. The stone office behind the main house was used as slave quarters. Also on the property is a meat house, many other outbuildings, and a lime kiln built in the late 1790's along with a lime kiln master's house.

Hunt Country Stable Tour - The Lime Kiln at Wind Fields Farm
The Lime Kiln at Wind Fields Farm
The lime was used on the farm as a fertilizer for growing plants. The lime was spread over the land to neutralize the acidity of the soil for better growing of crops and improving yields. Oatlands Plantation was the primary user of the lime. The accessibility of the land to the Snickersville Turnpike, Goose Creek, and Marble Quarry Road made Wind Fields Farm a valuable property. Lime was also used for lime mortar and white washing buildings.

While we were at the Lime Kiln House, the owners of Wind Fields Farm, Tim and Therese Harmon showed up riding horses. They said the the current person living in the the Lime Kiln House is a famous foxhunter rider. Tim asked where each of us was from. We told him outside of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He stated that one of his best horses he has ever owned came from Harrisburg. The Harmons were gracious and continued to answer the audience's questions.

Hunt Country Stable Tour - The Lime Kiln House, 1800
The Lime Kiln House, 1800
Wind Fields Farm was purchased in 2007 by the Harmons who completed extensive renovations on all of the buildings on the property. They also built the stable, equipment barns and the pool. Their facility focuses on hunter/jumper training and competition.

The last farm visited was in need of major renovation when it came on the market in 2008. Thanks to Vas and Linda Devan, they decided to take on the task of restoring this colonial gem. The Quaker plan Federal style house was built in 1797. Most of the original structures still stand which include a bank barn, a dairy, a smoke house, a corn crib, a tenant house, and a well house. The gardens surrounding the property were well manicured. To the side of the house by the gazebo and pool was a small slave cemetery. Although the house was built using a Quaker floor plan, the original owner, Abner Humphrey was not a Quaker.

Hunt Country Stable Tour - Swimming demonstrations at Trappe Hill Farm
Swimming demonstrations at Trappe Hill Farm
Typically Quaker houses were built with a large room with two smaller rooms on the first floor. The hall usually had a fireplace and a wood staircase that led to the second floor which had two additional smaller rooms. The property remained in the Humphrey family for 150 years. The corn crib, a dairy, and expanded kitchen were added in 1873.

By 2009 the Devans spent $600,000-700,000 in restoration work. The basement needed excavated. The house needed a new furnace and electrical system. Repairs were needed on the floors and window frames. The house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in August of 2009. It remains on the Virginia Landmarks Register.

Hunt Country Stable Tour - A family enjoying the horse ridden by the owner of Wind Fields Farm, Tim Harmon on the premises of the Lime Kiln House
A family enjoying the horse ridden by the owner of Wind Fields Farm, Tim Harmon on the premises of the Lime Kiln House
The horses that are on premises are working foxhunters or homebred foxhunters in training. It was such a pleasant experience to see the horses grazing on such an original and quaint picturesque Virginia setting as Rock Hill Farm offered. Rock Hill Farm was placed under a conservation easement with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation which protects the property for years to come.

The Trinity Episcopal Church has done a wonderful job in having stewards and helpers placed at each farm. Make sure you don't forget the 56th Annual Hunt Country Stable Tour next year.

Source: Research, photos & text by Bryan Wright

Related Links:

Trinity Episcopal Church

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