Lord Stirling Festival
Time & Location
About the Event
Each year on the first Sunday in October, Lord Stirling’s estate at Lord Stirling Park in Basking Ridge, NJ comes back to life in the late 1700s. Colonial craftspeople ply their trades, a town crier delivers the daily news, and Revolutionary War military detachments camp and conduct maneuvers on the former estate lawn. The event promotes historical and environmental education highlighting the unsung Revolutionary War hero William Alexander, Lord Stirling, who lived on the site and served under General George Washington.
Attired in replicas of 1770s clothing true to the period, meet a blacksmith, tinsmith, broom maker, cooper, and other trades people of the times. Crafters make toys, dolls, lace, decorative arts, woodcarvings, and spin wool into yarn. No crafts are sold at this entertaining and educational event. See sheep, goats, and chickens that were staples of colonial life in the 1770s. Children can try stenciling, quill writing, making clay pots, and playing colonial games. Drink a cup of cider made on site at the working cider press and hop aboard the hay wagon for a ride around Lord Stirling’s apple orchard. Dress the part by trying on period style clothing or spend a few minutes in the Somerset Gaoler’s wooden pillory while friends and family take photographs.
The event provides an educational and enjoyable way to learn about colonial times and the importance of New Jersey’s role in the American Revolution. Visitors can question craftspeople about their trades, tour Lord Stirling’s wine cellar, and enjoy the sights, sounds, and aromas of a colonial style autumn festival. Listen to colonial ballads played on instruments of the period. Visit the camps of Heard’s Brigade, Captain John Outwater’s Militia, Past Muster, and the Donegal Riflemen. Watch as the militias conduct maneuvers and children can participate in a musket drill. A professional Town Crier announces the events of the day and reads the Declaration of Independence. In the afternoon, meet Lord Stirling as he strolls around his estate.
Lord Stirling (the Scottish earldom and title acquired by William Alexander of Basking Ridge) was close friends with George Washington and served as a Major General directly under his command during the Revolution. Stirling built his manor house around 1762 and lived there for 20 years. An archeological team sponsored by the Somerset County Park Commission excavated part of the site and has studied the recovered artifacts. See what they have found on the site and hear about the history associated with these artifacts. Part of the original Stirling manor house foundation still exists under the modern house now occupying the site and is open to the public for tours for the day. Artifacts unearthed by the Lord Stirling Field Project represent well over 250 years of site occupation.
Suggested donation: $5 per person 11:30am – 4:30pm Environmental Education Center, Basking Ridge 908-766-2489