National Expansion & Reform Sherwood Forest

Sherwood Forest

The land on which this home was built was originally owned by Mary Ball Washington, George’s mother, when she was just five years of age.  She retained it until 1778.  The land passed to a Ball descendant, Jane Downman, who married Henry Fitzhugh in 1837.  The newlyweds constructed the house in the late 1830s or early 1840s.  The house is beautifully situated on a hill about a mile from the Rappahannock River. Because of its commanding view, it was used during the Union occupation of Stafford in 1862-1863 as a balloon launch site for reconnaissance, as well as a picket-post and a field hospital after Chancellorsville.  In 1867, Sherwood Forest passed out of the Ball-Washington family for the first time.   There are many outbuildings on the premises: kitchen, enslaved quarters, smokehouse, and well house.  More modern buildings on the hill such as barns, a dairy, silos, etc. reflect Stafford’s agricultural economy.


Painting of Sherwood Forest by Jerrilynn Eby MacGregor