Augustine Warner I (1610-1674) and Warner Hall
Augustine Warner I was born on November 28, 1610 in Norwich, England. He was one of the first Virginia Immigrants to sail to the New World under Captain Adam Thouroughgood in 1628.
The Warner family settled along the Piankatank River. As some of the Warners moved into Maryland Augustine Warner I, who received the earliest known land grant in Gloucester in 1635, was most influential in establishing a Gloucester settlement, later to become Gloucester County by 1651. Augustine's wife Mary Townley immigrated to Virginia in 1638 by The Charles River Company. As Augustine's acquisition of land increased, so did his political influence in the area. He became important in government and a man of respect in the county. In 1642 Augustine Warner's wife gave birth to their second child on July 3, Augustine II.
By the 1650's, Augustine Warner had acquired over one thousand acres through land grants spanning Virginia, it has been rumored that he was granted nearly 33,333 acres total throughout Gloucester County. This may have included land covering the entire North side of the Severn River, out to the Mobjack Bay Finally, he became politically influential. Captain Warner was a member of the King's Council of the Royal Governor of Virginia until his death. This included being Justice and Burgess of York and Gloucester Counties between 1652 and 1658. This enabled him to advise the Governor on many important matters. He was named Speaker of the House and known as Speaker Warner at this time. He became Captain of the Virginia Militia and received commission from the Governor "Gentlemen." He aided the Dutch with the attacks on the Virginia Fleet of Hampton Roads. Augustine Warner was also famous for giving handsome service of communion plate to Abingdon Parish as well. He was considered an important man of the county as "Mister" was a term of respect. "Ordinary people had no handle on their names."
Augustine Warner I is the great grandfather of George Washington, as well as ancestor to Robert E. Lee, Capt. Meriwether Lewis and the Queen of England.
Warner Hall was built in 1674 on the land granted to Augustine Warner thirty plus years before. It was the first brick home built North of the York River, which included a brick stable with three chimneys, the only one in the history of Gloucester County. Warner Hall surpassed all other homes as a monument of extreme wealth and culture, as Gloucester County has always been distinguished in Virginia as the residence of a large number of families of wealth, education and good birth. It was the home of George Washington's great grandfather, Augustine Warner I as well as his grandfather, Colonel Warner II. Betty Washington's husband, Fielding Lewis, was even born there.
Warner Hall is set on the northern shore of the Severn River. It reveals three centuries of architectural development on the site. Through its history several fires have damaged or destroyed the home. The first fire in 1841 destroyed the five room house and in 1845/49, the central part of the mansion burned down leaving only the two wings. These two fires were only a fraction of the amount of destruction that has happened to the house since it was first built. The house has been restored as closely as possible to the original structure and design.
The first house on the site was built in 1674, although there may have been a house or a wing on this site earlier in the 17th century; a later house was certainly built about 1740. The circa 1905 Colonial Revival core of the expansive dwelling is attached to two colonial wings, original free standing dependencies, that remain from an 18th century house which burned circa 1940. The 18th century west wing was enlarged and remodeled ca. 1840s probably to house the family after the center portion was destroyed by fire. It is likely that this section of Warner Hall occupies the site of the 18th century dwelling which burned. The center portion of Warner Hall is underpinned by brick and sits on a full basement, there are no basements under the wings. Four giant Ionic columns support the steep pediment. The three center bays are closed by Ionic pilasters. Greek Revival moldings are used almost exclusively throughout the structure. Laid entirely in Flemish bond, the wing was raised from its original 1-1/2 stories to two stories. The north door lost its transom during this enlargement to allow for the installation of the stair. A dwarf portico shields the center bay of the north elevation. The wing has a beveled water table, and the first floor windows are capped by gauged brick jack arches. Corbeled interior end chimneys (one original, one rebuilt) terminate the gable ends. A box cornice with returns and unmolded entablature runs the length of the north and south elevations. This single pile, center passage structure has retained much of its interior fabric. Interior walls are laid in English bond and were originally plastered. The studs with lath were probably added during the 1840s rebuilding. The center passage contains the open string, dog-leg stair which has a carved newel and handrail and two square balusters per tread. A three light transom caps the south door, and both the south and north doors are Colonial Revival replacements. Fireplace openings have been rebuilt to facilitate the installation of stoves.
Three dependencies of note, a smokehouse, dairy, and stable, are associated with Warner Hall. The 19th century smokehouse is laid in seven course American bond and is utilized for storage. Partially constructed of 18th century brick with shell mortar, the dairy shows evidence of 19th century rebuilding. Its small windows and spatial division indicate that it may have been used as a stable. The large 18th century brick stable was enlarged with a frame addition in 1903 designed by the Richmond firm Noland and Baskervill. Exterior walls of the original section are laid in Flemish bond, while interior walls are English bond. The windows were originally like those on the dairy. A beveled water table circles the structure. Notches in the plate evidence an addition, now removed.
Warner Hall remained in ownership of the Warner family and its descendants until the last century when another family bought it to preserve the old home. The land around Warner Hall today includes the house, three dependencies and a circa 1900 tenant house. The total acreage is approximately thirty eight acres.
Also adding to Warner Hall's historic interest is the potential archaeological significance of the site. Artifacts from the 17th and 18th centuries, if they are preserved on the property, could yield valuable information about the settlement and expansion of early Virginia as well as important clues to the cultural history of Warner Hall. In the vicinity of the present 20th century structure are possibly the remains of a mid 17th century house, a dwelling built by John Lewis in the 1690s, the house built by John Lewis II for Priscilla Carter Lewis in the mid 18th century, and subsequent buildings erected on the site during the 19th century. The grounds were tested for archaeological evidence by the Virginia Research Center for Archaeology in the spring of 1980, and various l8th century artifacts were unearthed. As of 1980, no full scale archaeological investigation has taken place.
Today Warner Hall with its magnificent center frame construction having columnar fronts toward the land approach and toward the Severn, and two brick wings stands as majestically as ever in its grove of centuries old trees.
Colonel Augustine Warner II (1642-1681)
Colonel Augustine Warner II succeeded his father and became political friends with Nathaniel Bacon, who was educated at Oxford and a Barrister in London. Bacon staged the first actual American Revolution in 1676, as he organized an army of three hundred to four hundred pioneers to cope with the Indians North of the York River. He was involved in a private fur deal spanning the entire Virginia frontier. By the end of the decade, Bacon's troops had taken care of all the Indian tribes. They marched on Jamestown as Governor William Burkeley fled, and sailed to the Eastern Shore. Nathaniel Bacon and his troops soon set up their headquarters at Warner Hall after the burning of Jamestown in 1676. This Virginia Colony was in charge of matters North of the York to the Potomac River. Beyond the Potomac, lay the Maryland Colony. It was at Warner Hall, where he sent notices for the people to assemble to take the "Oath of Fidelity" of his fellow countrymen. Bacon contracted Malaria and died within a year his troops then fleeing the Colony.
Augustine Warner II inherited Warner Hall at the death of his father in 1674. He married Mildred Reade, the daughter of George Reade, founder of Yorktown, and after her death, Elizabeth Martian. Augustine II was speaker of the House of Burgesses during Bacon's Rebellion in 1676, and also was a member of the Council.
When Augustine Warner II died, he left three daughters his son dying June 19, 1681. Mary became the wife of John Smith, of Purton, on the York, and their son Augustine Smith was said to have been one of the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe with Governor Spotswood, on his famous expedition across the Blue Ridge in 1716. Mildred, another daughter of Augustine Warner II, married Lawrence Washington, of Westmoreland, and her second husband was George Gale. Her three Washington children were John, who built Highgate, Augustine, father of George Washington (first President of the United States), and Mildred. Augustine Washington married Mary Ball, and named his son George for his great grandfather, George Reade, who founded Yorktown.
Elizabeth, the third daughter of Augustine Warner II, became the wife of John Lewis and inherited Warner Hall. Their son, John Lewis II was a member of His Majesty's Council, and was prominent in the county. For generations the Lewises lived here, and members of the family emigrated to all parts of the United States. Their descendants built Belle Farm, Eagle Point, Abingdon, Severby, and Severn Hall, all in Virginia. Elizabeth and John Lewis I's grandson, Colonel Fielding Lewis, of Belle Farm, married Catherine Washington, and after her death married Elizabeth Washington, also known as Betty, sister of George. He built beautiful Kenmore for her, in Fredericksburg.
Warner Hall Colonial Family Cemetery
to Warner Hall Colonial Family Cemetery
Visit to Warner Hall and Its Graveyard by Eric Erland, August 2000
National Park Service
Warner Hall Plantation and Its Graveyard by Leighton Hurley, 1993
Lewises, Meriwethers and Their Kin by Anderson, 1938
of History and Biography, October 1969, Vol. 77 No. 4
Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, July 1973, Vol 81 No. 3
Lewis of Warner Hall: The History of a Family by Sorley, 1937
LANDMARKS Gloucester County Virginia
Old Virginia Houses
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Page updated: July 20, 2002