Now the enormous brick edifice with its graceful spreading wings was complete, even to the lawns and ivy beds that lined the drive, though the stately trees that would eventually surround it were mere saplings.
A Breath of Snow and Ashes, chapter 92
I’m returning to “Finding Fraser’s Ridge” after disappearing for months. Did I travel to the 18th century through mysterious standing stones? Not exactly. But as Claire did when returned to her own time, I’m emerging with a little one. Yep, I’m now a mom! And, believe it or not, he has a head full of the most beautiful copper hair. Seriously. He could definitely pass as a Fraser offspring.
And now, the Starz show based on our favorite series has also returned! This season chronicles the Frasers’ adventures in Diana Gabaldon’s Drums of Autumn, bringing Jamie and Claire to North Carolina. We finally get to see Fraser’s Ridge! (Sadly, the show was not filmed in the Tar Heel State, but it appears location scouts managed to find areas in Scotland that have a look very similar to the Blue Ridge Mountains.)
In the season premiere, we met royal Governor William Tryon. And we certainly haven’t seen the last of him.
Governor Tryon is a significant figure in North Carolina history. In Charlotte, Tryon Street runs through the heart of the city. The Town of Tryon in western North Carolina was named for him. But there is probably no place more connected to Tryon today than the mansion that bears his name. You can visit Tryon Palace in New Bern! Without revealing too much for those who have yet to read A Breath of Snow and Ashes, Claire finds herself tangled in a tragedy (surprise, surprise) and, as a result, is briefly detained in Tryon Palace.
And lucky for us, the folks at Tryon Palace know about this connection to Outlander, and they’ve created special tours for fans! Keep reading for details.
The season four premiere brings the Frasers to North Carolina in 1767. A year earlier, the state legislature (at the behest of Governor Tryon) authorized 5,000 pounds for a new government house. But that wasn’t enough for the elaborate structure Tryon had in mind, and he later convinced the legislature to raise taxes to pay for his plans. As you can imagine, that didn’t go over well, particularly among the backcountry settlers. It contributed to the growing frustrations that led to the Regulator Movement. (In the episode, did you hear Claire ask Jamie about the Regulators?)
Tryon recruited a London architect, who designed the Georgian-style mansion that was completed in 1770, becoming the first permanent capitol of North Carolina.
In 1775, Tryon Palace was seized by patriots, and after the Revolutionary War, it housed the state’s governors until 1794. Sadly, a cellar fire in 1798 destroyed the palace. The palace you can visit today is actually a replica that opened in 1959, however, the stable is original.
Tryon Palace is staffed by costumed historical interpreters who offer tours of the house, demonstrate authentic tools in a blacksmith shop and showcase 18th century cooking. The palace, located on the Trent River, is surrounded by gardens designed in the style of formal British gardens typical of the 1700s.
If you’re planning a visit, check the calendar of events for Outlander-themed tours! On Nov. 17, 2018, there will be tours at 9:15 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. that incorporate stories and rooms mentioned in the books.
For those of you with children, Tryon Palace is kid friendly. My 7-year-old niece went on the tour of the house last fall and loved it. She was particularly interested in (and somewhat baffled by) 18th century children’s toys.
Tryon Palace is open to the public 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. It’s closed on Mondays and on some holidays. Click here for details.
Sources and further reading:
“Tryon Palace,” North Carolina History Project.
“Royal Governor William Tryon (1729-1788),” North Carolina History Project.