In 1611 the deputy governor of Virginia, Sir Thomas Dale, led an expedition northward to a bluff over the James River away from the brackish water and swampy pestilence that had been the bane of Jamestown. The area was occupied by the Arrohateck Indians who were part of the Powhatan Chiefdom that dominated Coastal Virginia. Dale called the place 'Henryco' in honor of Prince Henry of Wales, and the settlers built a fort on the bluff and the first hospital in Virginia known as Mount Malady.

In 1613 the Powhatan Chief's daughter Pocahontas was kidnapped and brought to the village that was by then known as 'Henricus' where she was cared for, instructed in English language, customs and attire and converted to Christianity by Rev. Alexander Whitaker of Rocke Hall. The following year, Sir Thomas Dale acquired more land near Henricus for tobacco cultivation and called it Bermuda Hundred. (In English law, a 'hundred' specified a land grant that would support one hundred families.) The area would later became the site of the Bermuda Hundred Campaign during the Civil War. Henricus saw action during the Revolutionary War as well when Gen. Benedict Arnold sank the Virginia naval fleet stationed here.

henricus church beams

Exposed beams in the Church and Meeting Hall display a rustic beauty. The building would have been used by the early settlers for community meetings as well as twice-daily services.

After her conversion by Rev. Whitaker Pocahontas married John Rolfe, the father of the tobacco industry, and the economic outlook for Henricus seemed assured. Yet, by 1622 relations broke down between the English and the Indians when the Powhatan chief died and his hostile brother took over. Under his orders the tribes conducted ruthless, systematic raids on English settlements along the James, destroying Henricus in the process. The settlement was abandoned in 1624.

henricus rocke hall dining room

The recreated Rocke Hall was the home of Rev. Alexander Whitaker as well as Pocahontas while she was under his tutelage.

The history of these early settlers and the Indians who once inhabited this area come alive at Henricus Historical Park, an outdoor living history museum featuring costumed historical interpreters that guide visitors through a recreated Arrohateck Indian village and a recreated English colonial village. The re-created Indian village features authentically reproduced Indian long-houses as well as Indian artifacts. Kids and kids-at-heart can enjoy hands-on experiences here such as digging out canoes and pounding corn. At Rocke Hall, the recreated home of Rev. Alexander Whitaker, visitors can learn about the man who probably introduced Pocahontas to her future husband John Rolfe and oversaw her education and conversion to Christianity. Other buildings include the Church and Meeting Hall, Blacksmith's Forge, Proctor's Plantation, Mount Malady, and Patron's Tavern.

henricus proctors plantation interpreter henricus proctors plantation buttercup pig

Costumed historical interpreters bring history alive at Henricus Historical Park. A rescue pig named 'Buttercup' now makes her home in the park's Proctors Plantation exhibit.

Henricus Historical Park features a visitors center and gift shop and provides educational programs, demonstrations, special events and family fun days. The park is surrounded by the scenic Dutch Gap Conservation Area where there are forest and wetland hiking and biking trails as well as boating, fishing and wildlife watching.

Pictured at the top: Visitors can explore authentically-reproduced Indian long-houses as well as numerous artifacts in the recreated Arrohateck Indian Village at Henricus Historial Park.

henricus dutch gap conservation area

Henricus Historical Park is surrounded by the 810-acre Dutch Gap Conservation Area offering hiking, biking, fishing, birding and wildlife watching.