A lost colonial town

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes – Recently, a Scottish Weekend program took us to a fascinating spot on the banks of the South River in the Chesapeake Bay. (North 38 degrees 56’ and West 76 degrees 32’) We didn’t realize until much later that we could have gone by boat and docked there, rather than driving. We discovered a lost colonial town that we could do a day trip to with our boat. Back in its day, the town had up to 300 dwellings, a tavern, and a ferry boat that crossed the Chesapeake Bay’s South River.  Apparently, ferries were a critical link in the colonial transportation system. By the 1730s, nearly every road in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, (where the lost colonial town was located) that bordered the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, had a ferry crossing or boat landing. Travelers had to wait for ferries, hence the taverns (they called them “ordinaries” at the time) at the ports of the ferries. This lost colonial town, called London Town, was established in 1683 and was part of a much larger transportation system that extended from Virginia to New York, moving people and goods to markets, along with the news of the day. The ferry connected both sides of the South River on the way to and from Providence, another lost colonial town.

Providence, the first colonial settlement in Anne Arundel County, was founded in the fall and winter of 1649–1650 at the beginning of a mass migration of a group of Puritans and non-conformists from Lower Norfolk County in Virginia to primarily the north side of the mouth of the Severn River. It faded away after the 1680s when Annapolis came into favor and, in 1694, became Maryland’s capital, on the opposite shore from Providence on the Severn River.

Pier of the historic London Town tavern (in the bottom left) 

The Historic London Town and Gardens has a great pier that was built in 1971 and takes you to the historic William Brown House (c.1760) and a small reconstructed colonial village having a tobacco barn, Lord Mayor’s tenement, and carpenter shop. The visitor center has an interactive museum exhibit featuring archeological finds discovered onsite. Nearly 10 acres of woodland and ornamental gardens are a part of this small gem.  The visitor center is open April through November, Wednesday through Sunday, where you will be greeted by friendly volunteers. They carry out a lot of fun events and activities, just like the delightful Scottish Weekend that we attended.

Okay, it was a day trip after all, what about drinking and something to eat? Well, you can find some drinks in the visitor center, but food is available only in nearby food establishments — the center will gladly provide you with a list.  If you arrived by boat, food places would not be easily accessible by walking. However, food was not a problem for us because we had planned to go to The Inn At Pirates Cove, Restaurant and Dock Bar in nearby Galesville, MD, to check them out. It has a great marina, an inn, and a restaurant on the shores of the West River. I peeked at my mobile Navioincs charts in the restaurant, it showed North 38 degrees 50’ and West 76 degrees 32.  By land, it was 6 miles away from London Town; by water, we’ll have to wait until next time to experience it or you can figure it out by using your chart plotters.  The food at Pirates Cove was very good and I would recommend it. Expect to spend $$ for lunch for two. Apparently, the Inn has 4 rooms in the marina, along with a lively dock bar.  Not too far from Pirates Cove, there is another restaurant named Thursday’s Crab and Steakhouse.  Both restaurants have ample docking space for restaurant customers. Those overnighters wishing to stay on land, you can consider the Inn with its 4 rooms at Pirates Cove Restaurant and Dock Bar.  Quickly glancing around, I noticed that the establishment has showers for the boaters in the marina and they were very clean.

4 things I learned

  • The Historic London Town and Gardens are an excellent, interesting, and fun day trip destination for boaters, especially if you have young children with you. Docking is free.
  • The volunteer guides of the visitor center are very friendly and knowledgeable about the lost London Town, making your visit so much more meaningful than just walking around with no background information.
  • Events like the Scottish Weekend program make the visit absolutely worthwhile and take place in a relatively uncrowded environment that makes it much more fun and personal.
  • Historic London Town has great programs for kids.

2 things I recommend

  • First look at the London Town Events list before you plan your trip and tailor your visit to your interest level.
  • If you go to London Town (in South River), plan to eat in your boat or definitely visit one of the nearby waterfront restaurants, such as Mikes’s Crab House on the South River (Riva, MD) or the Inn At Pirates Cove, Restaurant and Dock Bar located on the West River (Galesville, MD) (38 degree 50.572’ North and 76 degree 32.250’ West). Docking is free for restaurant customers.

How easy?

      Easy                                               Difficult                                                                               

Did you experience this location? If so, what are your recommendations?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.