Arts & Entertainment

Lord Stirling 1770s Festival Offers Glimpse into Somerset County's Past

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Children conducting a musket drill with wooden muskets at the Lord Stirling 1770s Festival at the Environmental Education Center in Basking Ridge, NJ. Credits: Courtesy Somerset County Park Commission
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BASKING RIDGE, NJ - Step back in time to the colonial period of American history at the Somerset County Park Commission's Lord Stirling 1770s Festival on Sunday, Oct. 2 from 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at 96 Lord Stirling Road, the site of Lord Stirling’s Manor house.

The 1770s Festival promotes historical and environmental education, highlighting the unsung Revolutionary War hero William Alexander, Lord Stirling, who lived on the site and served under General George Washington.

Each year the estate at Lord Stirling Park comes back to life in the late 1700s when Lord Stirling joins visitors, answering questions about his many business ventures and his successes in battle against the British. Join him as he reviews his troops, visits with local craftspeople, and tours his personal wine cellar.

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With re-enactors attired in replicas of 1770s clothing, visitors will meet a blacksmith, tinsmith, furniture maker, cooper, and other trades people of the times. Crafters make toys, lace, decorative arts, woodcarvings, and spin wool into yarn. No crafts will be sold. 

The event offers insight to nial times and the importance of New Jersey's role in the American Revolution. Visitors will listen to colonial ballads played on instruments of the period, visit the camps of Heard's Brigade, Captain John Outwater's Militia, and the Donegal Riflemen and watch as the militias conduct maneuvers. A colonial surgeon displays his tools for battlefield medicine and a professional Town Crier reads the Declaration of Independence. 

Children can try stenciling, quill writing, making clay pots, playing colonial games, and pet goats and chickens. A working cider press will show how cider was made and a hay wagon will take visitors for a ride around Lord Stirling's meadows.  Dress the part by trying on period style clothing or spend a few minutes in the Somerset Gaoler's wooden pillory while friends and family take photographs.

Lord Stirling (the Scottish earldom and title acquired by William Alexander of Basking Ridge) was close friends with George Washington and served as a Major General directly under his command during the Revolution.

Stirling built his manor house around 1762 and lived there for 20 years.  An archeological team sponsored by the Somerset County Park Commission excavated part of the site and has studied the recovered artifacts which are displayed on site. Part of the original Stirling manor house foundation still exists under the house now occupying the site and the cellar is open to the public for tours for the day. 

Suggested donation is $5 per person. The 1770s Festival will be held rain or shine.

For more information about the 1770s Festival call the Environmental Education Center at 908-766-2489 or Relay Service dial 711 for individuals with hearing impairments. 

Information on this event and other Somerset County Park Commission activities may be found on the Somerset County Park Commission website at www.somersetcountyparks.org.

 

 

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