Chester historical park and conservation area voted Richmond’s best

Readers of Richmond.com voted to select Henricus Historical Park and the Dutch Gap Conservation Area as the best local park for a 2012 “Bestie” award. “Besties” feature reader-favorite local venues in a variety of categories with the nominees selected by the Richmond.com editorial staff.  

Announced by Richmond.com on July 17, Henricus Historical Park and the Dutch Gap Conservation Area received 570 votes. Runner up in the “Best Park” category was Dorey Park in Henrico County. Other parks featured in the contest include Maymont, Deep Run Park, Belle Isle, Forest Hill Park and many others.  

“Henricus Historical Park and the Dutch Gap Conservation Area is a destination where visitors can spend the day learning and exploring history and nature,” said Charles Lewis Grant, executive director of Henricus Historical Park. “We are honored to be voted Best Park and proud that so many people feel passionately about the quality of our staff, programming and facilities.”  

Henricus Historical Park is surrounded by the 810-acre Dutch Gap Conservation Area consisting of diverse wildlife, woods and wetlands, including land and lagoon trails, a Blue Heron rookery in the marsh and a boat landing on the James River. Dutch Gap is an ideal location for hiking, biking, running, kayaking, boating and fishing. Staff for the conservation area regularly lead kayak and canoe tours.  

Henricus Historical Park serves more than 25,000 students each year providing SOL-aligned education programs to students in Chesterfield, Henrico, Powhatan, Hanover, Petersburg and other areas. Popular day camps take place on a variety of topics including Virginia Indian and colonial history, archaeology and the James River. Many events take place throughout the year including Publick Days, the site’s signature annual event, which often features the tall ship Godspeed from Jamestown Settlement. Publick Days weekend is Saturday, September 15 and Sunday, September 16.

Henricus Historical Park next event on Saturday, August 11, is to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the adoption of the Virginia Colony’s first legal system, Laws Divine, Moral and Martial, which was enforced by Sir Thomas Dale beginning in 1612. Living historians will explore the elements of these laws which touched the lives of English and Powhatan Indians. Visitors will participate in court proceedings and examine colonial and Virginia Indian codes of conduct and punishments.

Virginia Indian historical interpreters will explore the legal system of the Powhatan people and examine their more brutal forms of punishment compared to the English. Military codes of conduct, governing of brides and laundresses, correcting of children and servants on the plantation, and the impact religion had on law and order will be explored in the colonial settlement. Scheduled activities will include the Proctor trial in Mount Malady at 2 p.m. Elements from a burning at the stake punishment will be re-created near the front of the colonial site at 4 p.m.

“Leaders of Henricus developed the first English hospital, chartered the first college in the New World, established tobacco as a cash crop and created a place where Pocahontas converted to Christianity and met John Rolfe,”  Grant added. “So it is no surprise that at this historic landmark the first Virginia laws were adopted. We encourage you to attend this event and learn more about the significance of Henricus.”

“First Virginia Laws: Crime & Punishment in the Colony” takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, August 11. Admission is free for Henricus Foundation Patrons, $8 for adults and $6 for children aged 3-12. Due to the nature of the subject matter parental discretion is advised.

Henricus Historical Park is located on 32 acres along the scenic and historic James River and is surrounded by the 810-acre Dutch Gap Conservation Area. Only 20 minutes from Richmond, the park is located at 251 Henricus Park Road in Chester.

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