Royal Lipizzan Stallions Come to Connecticut's Quiet Corner
Yankee’s Top Summer Events from the May/June 2012 issue featured a late August performance by Herrmanns’ Royal Lipizzan Stallions on the grounds of historic Roseland Cottage in Woodstock, Connecticut. That sounded like reason enough for a day trip, but my husband and I discovered much more.
We began with Sunday brunch in Woodstock at The Mansion at Bald Hill, an inn and restaurant. We wound our way along the curving, wooded entrance road that led to the top of the hill. It was easy to see why Roxanna Wentworth Bowen and her husband Clarence chose this secluded spot to build the Mansion in 1892. Now, the colorful, manicured gardens form a picture-perfect setting for the many couples that choose this locale for their summer wedding.
After a wonderful brunch (somehow finding the willpower to resist the white chocolate croissant custard offered for dessert), we headed out to scenic Route 169. We stopped to walk around the town green. Woodstock Academy, once private but now a public high school serving five area towns sets at one end, and a white steepled church at the other.
Woodstock Orchard’s farm stand invited a visit, with a wide selection of hearty chrysanthemums out front. They were beautiful, but also a sign that, like it or not, summer’s end is on the horizon.
Taylor Brooke Winery was a bit of a diversion from the main route, but so well worth it. Our friendly server Barry, whom we discovered grew up in the same Massachusetts town as my husband, helped us select wines to sample. Summer Peach was like the essence of the season sealed in a bottle—an easy sale. Popping it open will be a nice way to hold onto a bit of summer while planting those mums in our yard.
I don’t know who Mrs. Bridges is, but she’s got herself one adorable tea shop, also on Route 169. It’s a bit of Britain, a bit of whimsy, and a lot of charm whether you’re looking for a gift, a hearty lunch, or just dessert and a spot of coffee or tea.
Henry Bowen, who built this home in 1846 as a summer getaway for his family (10 children!) was originally from Woodstock (yes, many Bowen’s in this town’s history). He made his money in New York City’s silk industry, and later established the successful Continental Insurance Co., and a popular anti-slavery newspaper, The Independent.
Clearly a civic-minded guy, Henry stepped in to reorganize Woodstock Academy when it was struggling and established a small endowment for it in the 1840s. He acquired additional land and donated it to the town as green space, planted trees on the green, and was generally a pillar of the community, which is probably why no one complained that the Bowens’ painted their grand house pink. Salmon, really.
The gardens, once filled with roses (hence the home’s name), now see a variety of blooms. However, nearly all the dwarf boxwood plantings are original from the 1800s.
It’s a stunning home, filled with fine period furnishings and complete with an indoor bowling alley and other early innovations of the era, well worth the tour. A most suitable place for entertaining dignitaries, Henry and his wife, Lucy, hosted four Presidents during their time at Roseland.
As the tour concluded, it was time to gather outside on the spacious, lush green lawn, and meet Herrmanns’ Royal Lipizzan Stallions.
This rare and aristocratic breed’s ability to perform “Airs Above the Ground” dates back to ancient times, when their execution of spectacular leaps, plunges, and kicks forceful enough to slay a person, inspired terror in the heart’s of enemy foot soldiers.
Today, the public can enjoy these majestic animals and their graceful dance-like maneuvers through the Herrmann’s shows. The stallions fancy footwork, or hoofwork as it were, is impressive to see up close.
The ties between the Herrmann family and the Lipizzan’s runs deep—much more historical information can be found on their Web site as well as a full show schedule; www.hlipizzans.com
Planning a trip to Roseland Cottage? Pencil it in for October 13-14, 2012, and you can visit the home, and at the same time, attend the 30th Annual Fine Arts and Crafts Festival held on site.