Josiah Chowning opened his tavern in 1766. He wanted to appeal to the ordinary people.
Except when Colonial Williamsburg reconstructed this tavern in the 1940s, they assumed they were doing so on the right, original foundation, but it wasn’t. Instead the foundation belonged to a privately owned home. I learned this when I took the Colonial Williamsburg Tavern Ghost Walk.
Located on Duke of Gloucester Street next to Market Square and the Courthouse, the tavern allows casual attire and no reservations are necessary. Instead seating is based on space availability. There are ales and specialty alcoholic drinks that you can order besides fountain drinks and water; and besides sandwiches, light fare, stews, and desserts.
But there are more than sandwiches at this tavern. There are specters haunting within these walls. Things of an unusual nature take place at Chowning's Tavern: furniture moving around, clothing of tourists being yanked on, and a little girl who appears and disappears.
Bill and I arrived early for the ghost tour to start, so we stopped at Chowning’s for root beer. Seated by the window, we watched a magician who came into the dining room to perform. I took a couple of photos of him. In one of them, I discovered what looked like an orb starting to form behind his head. Is this the ghost that uses the tavern for his stomping grounds?
Seven years ago, a woman was eating when the server approached her table, asking if she needed anything more. The woman looked at him and said, “I’m psychic. Did you know this tavern was haunted?” She gestured to the side. “Seems Peter told me he’s the one haunting it and he is very, very fond of a hostess named Emily that you have working here.”
When Lee, the server, admitted they had an Emily that worked as a hostess there, he went to get her, as the psychic directed. The woman stood with him at the table, not sure what was going on.
The psychic looked up at Emily. She told her that a spirit named Peter who haunted the place liked her. That he felt he was the protector of her and her newly born son who came too soon.
This did bother Emily that the woman knew about her son who had been born a preemie. She glanced aside at Lee, but Lee told her he never said a thing to the woman.
“I don’t know how you knew about my baby, but I don’t believe in ghosts, Emily said. “I am not buying the Peter story.”
The woman smiled and said that was too bad as Peter really liked her. He even brought her a white flower yesterday.
Emily turned white as the flower. For when she had been seating some people in the gardens, she found a white magnolia blossom at her feet that hadn’t been there earlier. The thing about this is the nearest magnolia bush was two blocks away, by the Peyton Randolph house. No way for it to come from any flowering bush nearby—at least not on its own. The day after meeting the psychic, Emily quit.
It goes to show that a woman can have a male stalker—even if he is a ghost of a man from the eighteenth century!
The next time you need someplace to sit and relax, why not have a drink at Chowning’s. Let it be known, though, if you find a white flower at your feet . . . you may be the object of some phantom’s affections!
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