Last updated on January 7th, 2018 at 02:12 pm
An idyllic village in Virginia hunt country.
The first thing you’ll notice is its sheer beauty: the carefully preserved architecture of a distant time, tree-lined streets cradled in lush open space, the endless rolling hills of its charming countryside. It is truly captivating. But, while the setting is breath-taking, it is the spirit of its people that beckons visitors to return and sometimes lay roots down of their own.
Our residents are well-known actors, authors, artists, artisans, and even an Olympian or two. Jacqueline Kennedy spent much of her time here with John and Caroline while her husband was president, and she continued to spend many a hunting season here later in life. Elizabeth Taylor was a regular during her courtship and eventual marriage to local gentleman and Virginia senator John Warner.
Of course, many Middleburg residents have lived here all their lives, and some enjoy the distinction of generations of family members calling the village home. Immediately you sense the camaraderie of this place—everyone knows one another, most attended grade school together (the Hill School to be precise, founded in 1926). It is a very close-knit community of incredibly interesting people, several of whom can be credited with tirelessly working to preserve this place, its history, and its rich tradition of equestrian sport.
George L. Ohrstrom Sr. and Alexander Mackay-Smith, for example, founded the National Sporting Library and Museum in 1954. While its understated exterior may be misleading, inside is an impressive display of history, culture, literature, and fine art celebrating equestrian, angling, and field sport. The list of patrons that have backed this cherished endeavor is a list of influence, power, and hunt country legend—George L. Ohrstrom Jr., Forrest E. Mars Sr., Paul Mellon, and John and Martha Daniels just to name a few. Today, Jacqueline Mars, Mrs. George L. Ohrstrom Jr., and Clarke Ohrstrom continue their families’ dedication to what is now a cultural epicenter of turf and field sport.
It is the Reuter family that is responsible for the preservation of one of our town’s most cherished historical landmarks, the Red Fox Inn. It is the oldest established inn in America, with the original structure built in 1728. A young surveyor, George Washington, once visited the inn, and during the Civil War, it is said the tap room counter was a surgical table. A meal or stay at the inn is an essential—as it truly embodies hunt country. The inn offers lovely cuisine and a compelling collection of fine art that beautifully tells the story of the area and its rich history of fox hunting, thoroughbred breeding, and horse racing.
Of course, alongside the Red Fox Inn, you’ll find some of our area’s most sought-after boutique shopping. A few of the spots not to be missed include Tully Rector, Duchessa of Middleburg, Richard Allen Clothing, and Highcliffe Clothiers; all offer impeccable style and flawless service. English Country Classics will wow with their custom line of fine country clothing, featuring beautiful fabrics procured exclusively from the finest weavers in the British Isles. For the home, Foxfire Antiques and the Outpost are to be experienced, one reminiscent of a fine antique market in Europe, the other a walk through an Ernest Hemingway novel.
Just down the road in Millwood, Virginia, the Locke Store, currently owned by Juliet Mackay-Smith, is well worth the short drive. Serving in its current capacity as a mercantile since 1836, the structure of the store has hardly changed. Its modern inventory includes a wine selection from the finest vineyards of Europe and the U.S., and a host of housemade lunch, dinner, and baked goods that offer farm-to-table decadence in every bite. Then, entice your inner princess with a short trip up the road to Boyce, Virginia’s, Other Elizabeth—the flagship, world head-quarters of Elizabeth Locke Jewels. Finally, a quick trip to Marshall, Virginia, offers Tri-County Feeds, Fashions, and Finds—an impressive 12,000-square-foot, big white barn stocked with the very best in equestrian style and decor.
Of course, add to all of this the fact that on any given Saturday or Sunday in the spring or fall, you can find a thrilling horse race somewhere in the area. The Middleburg Spring Races at Glenwood Park (soon to celebrate its 100th anniversary) is a must experience.
Or, if polo is your sport, we have that, too, every Friday evening May through August at Great Meadow in the Plains. Furthermore, our long-standing tradition of fox hunting continues to thrive. Many of those residents associated with equestrian sport in our area are the same families who have worked so tirelessly to protect the open space and way of life that we all cherish. Have no doubt that they will continue to press hard and preserve this place we all hold dear.
As editor of the Scout Guide Hunt Country, Virginia, I have been able to meet some of the most interesting people in our area. It has been my honor to share their stories and celebrate the contribution they make to our local narrative. The Scout Guide, currently found in more than 60 cities across the country, is a collection of locally focused publications that feature the premier independently owned businesses, artists, artisans, and entrepreneurs in their area. thescoutguide.com