The Carriage Collection at Maymont was established in 1975 through the support of Elisabeth Scott Bocock, daughter of Frederic W. Scott, one of James Dooley’s business associates. The primary purpose of the Maymont Carriage Collection is to interpret horse-drawn transportation typical of country estates in Virginia during the period that the Dooleys lived at Maymont (1893-1925).
Other types of vehicles that would have been used in the Richmond area, equestrian equipment, harness and related items (such as lap robes, carriage whips and sleigh bells) round out the collection, which now totals more than 20 vehicles. Some rare vehicles in the collection include the park drag, bailey buggy, raffia governess cart, high-wheel sulky and landau. Several were donated from Mrs. Bocock’s Early Virginia Vehicular Museum. Others have been generously donated over the years from private collections.
Carriages typically owned by families such as the Dooleys are displayed in the Dooleys’ Carriage House, designed by Noland and Baskervill and completed in 1904. This building, constructed of granite quarried on the property, was the residence of the coachman and also housed the Dooleys’ carriage and riding horses. Adjacent to the stall, a large tack room provided storage for harness and horse equipment. Characteristic of carriage-house floor plans, this handsome building has a central courtyard with a cobblestone floor where the horses were “put to” the carriages and where both horses and carriages could be washed after a long drive on dusty or muddy roads. Maymont’s Carriage House exhibit affords a rare opportunity in the region to view a representative collection of fine vehicles actually housed in the appropriate period setting on a late-19th-century estate.
The collection also includes some unique commercial and special-use vehicles that are housed in Shed Row, the work yard area behind the Carriage House. Examples include a horse-drawn hearse, several toy and children’s vehicles, and a Thalhimer delivery wagon used by the historic Richmond department store in the 1890s. Also located in Shed Row are the horse stalls, as well as two reproduction vehicles: a wagonette and a surrey (used on-site for public rides and weddings); and several light exercise carts, harness and other equipment.
Mrs. Bocock envisioned that the Maymont Carriage Collection should not only provide an exhibition of period vehicles, but that visitors should be able to experience a dynamic interpretation of 1890s transportation. And so with her support, the carriage ride program was instituted for the public, within the beautiful period environment of the Dooleys’ estate.
Carriage horses offer rides to the public, receive lots of pets from young visitors, and are often seen in photos and local advertising. They are stars among Maymont’s animal collection, and children who visit Maymont always look for them in their pasture at the Maymont Farm or in their stalls at Shed Row. Holiday programs and other festive events would not be the same without their pretty faces and hard work, giving rides for the enjoyment of Maymont’s visitors.
The carriage staff is privileged to have the opportunity to introduce visitors to the unique lifestyle of the 1890s, and to provide a pleasurable experience for those who visit the historic house and gardens of Maymont.