(Drawing: Manuscripts Department, University of Virginia Library)
Castle Hill was the beloved home of Dr. Thomas Walker and his wife Mildred Thornton Meriwether. Through their marriage in 1741, Walker acquired the plot of approximately 15,000 acres in Albemarle County, which would become the site for Castle Hill. The original wooden structure was completed in 1765 and faced the mountains to the northwest. Walker would reside at Castle Hill until his death on November 9, 1794. Walker's son Francis would succeed to the Castle Hill estate, after his father made him power of attorney (official document), until his death in 1806. Judith Rives (1802-1880), granddaughter of Thomas Walker, who married the Hon. William C. Rives a senator, lived at Castle Hill for the duration of her life. Today the home has been added on to and remodeled many times, but the original structure still stands. (Mead 201-206) Walker would continue to acquire land throughout his life. For example in 1772, Lord Dunmore gave Walker another land grant of 226 acres within Albemarle County (official land grant).
Castle Hill also played host for a short time to the British enemy Banastre Tarleton on June 4, 1781 during the midst of the American Revolution. There Tarleton made a short stay, but was delayed by the insisting of Mildred Walker. This delay gave the young Jack Jouett of Louisa County enough time to reach Charlottesville and send a messenger to warn Thomas Jefferson and her legislators staying at Monticello, who escaped just in time safely into Staunton, Va. in the Shenandoah Valley. Tarleton's short visit at Castle Hill proved to be a critical moment in the Revolution by saving members of the General Assembly and giving the citizens of Charlottesville time to prepare or flee. (Moore 65)
Castle Hill also played host to many Native American
chieftains who would stop at Walker's home on their journeys to Williamsburg. Walker used
these opportunities to learn about practices and psychology of different tribes, and to
gain information about the consistency of wildlife and woodlore in the unknown west.
(Photo taken by Bryan Maxwell)