There are only two Saturdays — October 6 and 13 — left in this season to indulge in the guided Saturday Strolls at Blithewold, a glorious garden mansion on the shore of Narragansett Bay in Bristol, Rhode Island. Map.
Docents tell the story of the Van Wickle and the McKee families, the original owners of this seaside estate. Visitors experience breathtaking views of Narragansett Bay and see the Mansion decorated with original furnishings just as it was when the family lived here. The guided tour continues through the grounds where magnificent trees and a variety of colorful gardens demonstrate Blithewold’s prominence in horticulture. This tour concludes with a Q & A and tea time on Blithewold’s North West Porch.
Blithewold is one of the best examples of the Country Place Era in the United States, and it shows the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement in this country. Tours of the mansion, gardens, and collections also introduce visitors to the artistically inspired Van Wickle family. Augustus and Bessie Van Wickle bought the land in Bristol in 1894, consciously rejecting the more-fashionable Newport, and choosing instead to create an unpretentious enclaves along Narragansett Bay.
From significant wealth accrued in the late 19th century, the Van Wickles, and, later, the McKee family and Marjorie Lyon created a rural retreat that celebrate gardens, the arts, informality, friends, outdoor pursuits, and community service. Blithewold rose from both European and American conventions in architecture, garden design, and interior furnishing.
If you miss the Saturday Strolls, Christmas at Blithewold also is a festival and beautiful time to visit.