SPECIAL EVENTS & PROGRAMMING

Rockingham offers a wide variety of programs throughout the year. Our largest annual events are the Holiday Candlelight Tour in early December and Children's Day in early May, both presented with the help of the volunteers from The Rockingham Association, the Montgomery High School Live Historians and the Stony Brook Garden Club.

Other programs focus on various aspects of Colonial life and may be more appropriate for adults only or may be of interest to children as well. Please see below for more information.

NOTHING MORE AGREEABLE - MUSIC IN THE WASHINGTON FAMILY

On Saturday, November 20th at 7 PM the Rockingham Association presented The Practitioners of Musick in a virtual program entitled “Nothing More Agreeable - Music in the Washington Family”. In a document dated June 4, 1777 General George Washington wrote, “Nothing is more agreeable and ornamental than good music”. The Practitioners concert with commentary explored the agreeable and remarkable musical work of three select generations of the extended Washington family. The General, while a fine dancer and avid theater goer, is not known to have played a musical instrument of any sort. Yet he and Martha, who had received harpsichord lessons, well understood the value of music and dance as a social grace and saw to it that the children under their care received a thorough musical education. The repertory for the concert is drawn from bound volumes of 18th-century manuscript and especially printed sheet music directly associated with the Washington family

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sourced in Great Britain and the early Federal period in America. Global trade was the thread that connected the Washingtons, their friends and associates, and a significant fueling aspect of this global trade was, in humanitarian terms, the regressive slave trade. The wealth accrued from the slave trade was channeled into the social fabric of the elite and gentry. Music, singing and dance were also part of the enslaved and free black experience expressing the daily life of labor and spiritual belief and were addressed as well.

The Practitioners of Musick, John Burkhalter, English & Small flutes, and harpsichordist Donovan Klotzbeacher have presented or supported scholarly programs under the auspices of The National Trust of Great Britain, The US National Park Service, Colonial Williamsburg and The Princeton University Art Museum amongst many other local, state, national and international entities.

This virtual event was sponsored by The Rockingham Association and the NJ Division of Parks and Forestry, and was made possible with the generous assistance of The William Trent House Association. A recording of the program will be posted online in the near future.

 
Fennel for Fleas: 18th-Century Kitchen Gardens, Plants and Their Uses

18th-century kitchen gardens can be thought of as the supermarkets of their times, but in one’s own backyard.  They were filled with plants that provided food for the household (peas and carrots anyone?).  But they also provided ingredients for household and personal use, such as for keeping fleas from your bed or cleaning your skin, as well as for medicinal use for ailments and injuries.  Join us to learn more about kitchen gardens in colonial times and to explore the Rockingham kitchen garden to see what is growing as well as the uses of various plants. 

The tour is limited to 15 people. Please be aware that the walk includes gravel and sand paths and grass, but no paved paths, so wear appropriate footwear for the season and weather. Tour may be cancelled due to inclement weather.

TOUR WILL RETURN IN THE LATE SPRING/EARLY SUMMER!

 

Virtual Children's Day
w/ Montgomery Township High School Live Historians

Children’s Day is an annual outdoor event at Rockingham, enjoyed by many over the years. It encourages children of all ages to explore the 18th-century era by playing with period games and toys, trying on clothes, sampling cookie recipes, making crafts, talking to Revolutionary-era soldiers and learning about what it may have been like to live in George Washington’s time. The Montgomery Township High School Live Historians club has been involved with this program over its many years, assisting Rockingham by basically running the show, dressing in period clothing and helping the visitors experience all that is offered.

 

In 2020, we could not hold our event due to COVID restrictions. This year, too, it was too soon to plan a larger event such as this for May when it usually takes place. But the Montgomery Docents, as they call themselves these days, decided they did not want another Children’s Day to pass by without some way to reach the young folk of the area and remind them what Children’s Day will be again in the future. So, they created six short videos (and an introduction) showing some of the activities that were part of the program in the past: clothing, games, crafts, baking cookies and even dancing! These videos can be viewed on their YouTube page here!

 

While we are sorry we can’t be together for Rockingham’s Children’s Day 2021, we hope you enjoy watching, maybe remembering having joined us in years past, and that the videos give you an incentive to (hopefully next year) experience Children’s Day once again in person!

 

We thank the Montgomery Docents who participated: Siya, Emily, Shriya, Catherine, Ashley, Skyler, Noa and Nikki (with the booster support of their advisor, Gene Porcelli) for their time, imagination and talents in creating these videos from start to finish!

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For those who missed our Virtual VIP Tour of Mount Vernon, the historic home of General & President George Washington in Virginia, with an expert curator shown live on February 10, the recording is now available on the Discover DEP (New Jersey) YouTube page HERE!. This special two-hour presentation was made possible by the gracious sponsorship of The Rockingham Association, Batsto Citizens Committee, Friends of the Indian King Tavern and Wallace House & Old Dutch Parsonage. 

Recent events have also included:

 

  • a workshop "From Fleece to Wool and Flax to Linen",  explaining harvesting, preparing and spinning sheep's wool and flax in the 18th century; attendees were given the chance to card wool and spin yarn on a drop spindle.

  • a celebration of George Washington's birthday. Director Lisa Flick designed an afternoon of special Washington themed tours and trivia questions for which visitors--adult and children alike--could win prizes. Special birthday tri-corner hats, Washington cake and punch were provided to all those who attended.

  • "Anatomy of a Death: Death and Dying in the 18th Century" - Volunteer actors re-enacted the activities which occurred after a death in the colonial period. Participants then followed a trail along the Delaware and Raritan Canal to the Kingston Presbyterian Church Cemetery for a tour of the gravestones there.

  • entertainment by The Practitioners of Musick with English flute and harpsichord.

  • reenactments of the Berrien family and Revolutionary War artillery units

 

Please check the website regularly for announcements of future events and programs.

 

OUTREACH PROGRAMS


History to Go!

The Children's Museum at Rockingham sponsors an outreach history project: History to Go!. This program is an opportunity for your groups to prepare to come to Rockingham, or to have Rockingham come to them! This program enables groups to see and use some of the most popular items from our Children's Museum in the convenience of their own classroom, living room or civic center.

 

How did this program begin?

Rockingham, with the support of the New Jersey State Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, realized that many people of all walks are interested in learning about American History. The most effective way of teaching is a "hands-on" approach where one can touch items, play games, and try on clothing from Colonial times. Rockingham wanted a program that would be available to all, regardless of their ability to come to our historic site.

Who can use this program?

Anyone who wants to learn! Classroom groups that are planning to come to Rockingham while studying the Revolutionary War may use History to Go! In preparation for their visit. Other schools who are unable to come to Rockingham may want to use this project to supplement textbook explanations of the Colonial period. Scout troops, church groups, community centers, clubs, families, or home school organizations and all interested parties are encouraged to contact the site office for further information.

 

What is included in the project?

The basic program consists of lesson plans, recipes, children's period-style clothing pieces, accessories, hats, personal items, games, books and craft projects all housed in three baskets. Extra quill pens with ink can be requested (must be ordered in advance) for an additional charge of $4.00 each.

What is the fee for?

There is a $35 fee for this program, to be paid at the time the baskets are picked up.

 

To Reserve the Program:

Call the Office (609) 683-7132 when the site is open to arrange a time to see the baskets and contents. We will help you to tailor the program to the needs of your group!

 

Or write:

Rockingham State Historic Site
P.O. Box 496
Kingston, NJ 08528

 

This program was made possible by a generous donation of the New Jersey State Society of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Children of the American Revolution, Somerset County Cultural and Heritage Commission, and Forbes Newspapers.