Fredericton / Blog / 201608 / Step back in time at Kings Landing

Step back in time at Kings Landing

Step back in time at Kings Landing

“A good housewife should have 1000 candles made ahead.”  I am in the winter kitchen of the Morehouse Farm at Kings Landing Historical Settlement. Along with a couple from California and another from New Hampshire I am learning the finer points of domestic life circa 1820.  With some guidance from the lady of the house we have braided straw for hats and fabric for rugs and we’re about to move on to the summer kitchen where we’ll learn about the healing power of the comfrey plant (good for wounds and broken bones).

Straw Braiding at Kings Landing

This summer at Kings Landing will be a very different experience and there’s never been a better time to visit – or revisit! – the historical village 20 minutes west of Fredericton.

Over a hearty lunch of Mrs. Long’s pot pie at the Kings Head Inn, Kings Landing Executive Director Kevin Cormier explains to me that it was time to look at offering visitors something new. A few summers ago he and his staff started specifically asking guests what they liked and what they would like to see more of.  Visitor after visitor came back with the same answer: they wanted to experience more, do more and share more in the 19th century village.

And so down came the Plexiglas barriers in many of the homes.  Visitors are encouraged to roam the rooms, become part of stories playing out among villagers and get their hands dirty (sometimes literally).

The museum homes such as the Hagerman, Joslin and Jones houses showcase some of the finest antiques from the Kings Landing collection.  Here you will learn about the lifestyle of 19th century New Brunswickers.

“If you meet a blacksmith who claims he’s never been burned he’s not much of a blacksmith,” jokes the blacksmith over the clang of metal on metal in the blacksmith’s shop.  At the moment he’s shaping a triangular dinner bell but a visitor to the shop could see him forging horseshoes, nails or other useful items. Throughout Kings Landing you can see tradespeople at work.  More than just demonstrating the tools and techniques of the 19thcentury trades, the wares produced at the blacksmith shop, printing press and carpentry workshops are used throughout the village.

Blacksmithing at Kings Landing

From the rose lined walkway to the luxurious parlors, the 1870s Perley House is among the most elegant of the homes in the village and so it’s a surprise when I am halfway up the front staircase to hear a voice call from the kitchen, Don’t mind the mess in my daughter’s room.  Feel free to make up the bed while you’re up there!”

This is one of the village’s houses where visitors become part of the daily shenanigans and poignant events of a 19th century family’s life.  In this case, Mrs. Perley is trying to teach her daughter how to be a lady.  And so I find myself tidying the 1870s bedroom of the unruly Perley daughter, arguing with the doctor over blood-letting at the Jones house, delivering notes across the village for crazy Mrs. Kileen and being strong-armed into joining the Temperance League.  Theatre has always been a big part of the Kings Landing experience but this season all the world’s a stage in the village.

Kings Landing Home

In 1986 I was a ‘Visiting Cousin’ at Kings Landing and spent one of the happiest weeks of my childhood experiencing 19th century life.  I learned to milk a cow, wrote my lessons on a slate in the schoolhouse and carded wool in the kitchen of the Ingraham house.  Years later as I sat in the parlor of the Ingraham House trying my hand at rug hooking under the watchful eye of Mrs. Ingraham, I realized that every Kings Landing visitor will have the chance to experience the village in that way.  Before the day is out I will have sampled the baked goods at the Lint House, worked some stitches on a quilted petticoat with the Donaldson’s and played with the children’s toys at the Long House where the children’s dress-up cupboard will delight old and young visitors alike.

Kings Landing Historical Settlement is located in Prince William, New Brunswick, Canada just 20 minutes West of Fredericton, on Route 102, or via the Trans Canada Highway at Exit 253.  Throughout the summer and until Thanksgiving they are open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.