Penshurst


Penshurst

1830
Via Sacra
Hampden-Sydney, VA 23943


Built in 1830 with funds secured from the Synod of North Carolina, Penshurst was originally named North Carolina House. The front east chimney has the marking "May l830" on the fifth row of bricks from the top. On the southeast chimney are the words "North Carolina." It is now called Penshurst after the English ancestral home of Algernon Sydney.

Penshurst was one of the original Seminary buildings, and when the Seminary moved to Richmond in 1898, was one of those buildings bought by Major Dick Venable and given to the College. At that time Penshurst became a boarding house for students operated by Mrs. Tabb and her daughter and became known as "Tabb's Tavern."

Six years later, in 1904, it was selected as the home for the College president and was given the name "Penshurst." It remained the home of the College president until it became a faculty residence. From 1947 to 1985 Penshurst was home to Dr. and Mrs. Graves H. Thompson. It was completely renovated in the summer of 1990 and was designated as the home of the dean of the faculty.

In the house are the original random-width, heart pine floors. There are four rooms upstairs, four rooms downstairs, and two finished rooms in the English basement. The house originally had double parlors. Without a central heating system, heavy drapes were hung separating the rooms to retain warmth from the fireplaces and to provide privacy.

A daughter of Dr. Thomas English of Union Theological Seminary who lived at Penshurst from 1893 to 1898, recalled that her "beaux" were seen in the front parlor while her father read in the back parlor. The curtains between the rooms were pulled together or left open depending on how well Dr. English liked his daughter's caller.