A few weeks back I asked a business group that I'm in - Boss Babes RVA - what buildings they'd like to see in the 2019 (and SIXTH edition!!) of my RVA calendar. I kept a running list of the Richmond landmarks they suggested and put a mark next to each one that was suggested more than once. The Virginia House was one that was suggested the most!! The funny thing is - I'd never heard of this place before, but a simple google image search told me that I NEEDED to draw it, it's absolutely beautiful!
I also did some research on the building and learned some pretty crazy things. Virginia House is a manor home that was created from materials originally erected in Warwick Priory in Warwickshire, England and then shipped here and put together right before the stock market crash of 1929. Originally the facade of the home was part of a monastery that was closed down by King Henry VIII during the dissolution of the Monasteries, before being purchased by a politician, Thomas Hawkins, who called the home his "Hawk's Nest" (creepy) and entertained Elizabeth I there! Later it was purchased by Queen Anne's Royal Gardener (fancy) before being purchased by the bank and put up for auction in 1925. But before the auction could take place, a wealthy American couple, Alexander and Virginia Weddell, offered up a lump sum and purchased the property before the auction. Apparently it was quite a scandal that Americans purchased this property, and everyone from the British press to the Parliament worked against the purchase being validated, as they were worried the Americans would vandalize the property. Once they realized that they were using it to build a new structure, they chilled out and a member from Parliament ended up thanking the Weddells, telling them that if they hadn't purchased the structure it would have been "lost for all time".
The craziest part is that the Weddell's advisers then ordered that an EXPLOSION take place in the center of the building, so that they could see what stones were structurally sound enough to transport to the US and be used for a new building. So in the end - they blew up the building, but it worked in such a way that the blown apart pieces made it easier to transport to Virginia. Can't say that I'd ever be brave enough to be like "Hey, British royalty - gimme your building so I can BLOW IT UP kthxbye".
When the Weddells created the Virginia House with the intention of making it the new home for the Virgina Historical Society, and that's exactly what it is today!
So two weeks ago Ben, Bo and I went on an adventure to the Virginia House so I could photograph the mysterious castle-like place that was less than 20 minutes from our home. The neighborhood that this place is in, Winsor Farms, is really lovely AND it's right next door to Agecroft (another illustration coming your way soon!).
We took a TON of photos, shooting from all different angles to find what pic would make for the best reference image for my illustration.
Since Ben is taller than me and there were giant shrubs in front of the building I asked him to take pictures from as high as he could reach:
But in the end we agreed that the centered image wasn't as compelling as this one:
So I got to work!
Since I wanted the building to be the focus - I decided against illustrating all of the foliage. The medieval windows were probably my favorite part to draw :)
Here's how it turned out!
As always I added come color, so for the RVA calendar, you'll see this!
If you're interested in purchasing a print of this illustration, you can do so by clicking HERE!
Remember that "Shop RVA" is always stocked with new illustrations of your favorite Richmond landmarks, plus prints and original paintings!
What do you think of the Virginia House? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the crazy history behind it and what you think of the finished illustration! :)
Hi friends! Welcome to the blog! I'm Mandy and I'm an artist, blogger & founder of the "Artists to Know" interview series. Here you'll find photos of my latest art adventures, furniture makeover projects & advice from successful artists!
Looking for new art? Click below: