An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

October 14, 2011

Windsor Castle

One of the newest parks in this area is Windsor Castle Park in the town of Smithfield.  It takes its name from the plantation house which anchors the park.  The first European to own the property was Arthur Smith who patented the land in 1637, and it was his grandson, Arthur Smith III, who donated a few acres to establish the town of Smithfield.  Sometime in the mid 1700's the current house was built, but has been remodeled several times over the centuries.  It is a typical Tidewater plantation with the main house facing the water showing off the money side, as most guests always arrived by boat.  There are several dependencies of varying ages still intact on the property including a kitchen house, smokehouse, barns, a log corncrib, graneries and others.

The town of Smithfield was built on pork and is home to the iconic ham the bears the town's name.  It's a great place to live (unless you're a pig), with a vital downtown, historic architecture, galleries, restuarants, shops, good schools, marinas, all surrounded by the natural beauty of creeks, rivers and marshes.  At one point the several hundred acres that make up Windsor Castle were for sale, and looked destined to be turned into a vast development of the "new urbanism" style.  However, Smithfield is not urban, but a thriving small town that already has a vibrant Main St.  In a twist on the Smith's original gift, in steps Joeseph Luter III, founder and former CEO of Smithfield Foods,  who drops first $5,000,000 then another $2,000,000 to buy Windsor Castle and 200 acres of its original land.  Luter did so to save the land and create a park for the town of Smithfield.  Today the park is still rather raw looking but already has walking trails, lots of newly planted trees, a path for mountain bikes,  a fishing pier, a dog park, a fruit orchard and the sweetest kayak launch on Cypress Creek, which is why I was there.

Windsor Castle

Tree House

Log Barn

Log Green

Barn Red

Red Chapel 4

Red Chapel 3

Red Chapel


  1. Looks like a beautiful property. I like how simple and pastoral the Red Chapel is in this setting.

  2. Not your typical park for sure. So rustic and serene. It's so great folks take the time to preserve settings like this.

  3. Les, What iconic buildings and I do love that piggy weathervane. gail

  4. I really like the saturated reds in your out-builoding photos. Lovely.

  5. If those walls could talk! Really enjoyed the tour, Les!

  6. I thought you were visiting the UK for a minute, I had visions of enjoying your shots of an entirely different - and less charming if more grand - Windsor Castle. Then when you wrote "built on pork" I found myself wondering just how bad it smelled all these years later, and how often it had to be re-built, and with what cuts. I think my brain is in a strange place today. Love the battered red wood.

  7. Donna,
    I call it a chapel, but think it held grain or maybe even tobacco.

    It is different than most parks. It has the historic house, but lots of recreational opportunities as well.

    A pig weather vane could not be more appropriate in this town.

    And I liked your black and whites.

    If those walls could talk, some of them might say "oink".

    Sorry if I had any part in your confusion. I deliberately titled that to get some traffic from people looking for the other castle. I think the name was originally a nickname, one poking fun at pretentions.


  8. I love that pig weather vane!!! The log house looks like it would be interesting to see up close and personal.