The next time you’re in New England to see the changing autumn leaves, try to plan a trip to Stockbridge, Massachusetts for the Berkshire Coaching Weekend - it’s a wonderful way to relive the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, and to see some of the elegant horse-drawn carriages that became so popular for sporting ladies and gentlemen during that time.
I love carriage riding, and have collected quite a few antique coaches of my own, so I was very excited to participate on one of the Coaching rides, with my friends Harvey and Mary Waller. Harvey is the president of the Colonial Carriage and Driving Society, which hosts the three-day event. Our ride originated at the Wallers’ Orleton Farm, and went through the idyllic town of Stockbridge. Along the way, spectators lined up to wave and see the stunning horses pulling their perfectly polished and meticulously restored carriages.
But first, we took a wonderful tour through their stable, where they house about 40-coaches, including one named “Old Times” built in 1866. Here are some photos from a very interesting and enjoyable day in the Berkshires - enjoy.
The day was a bit rainy, but still a beautiful drive to Orleton Farm in Stockbridge.
Here is Mary Waller in front of the Orleton Farm Stable.
This coach was made by the American coach builder, Brewster & Company for Jay Roosevelt in 1881 and was the 13th coach ever built by Brewster.
The Pony Siamese Phaeton was made by Ettore Bugatti to drive with his children. This Carriage along with the Traveling Coupe are two of only four carriages ever built by the famous car builder.
These are the pony harnesses for the Pony Siamese Phaeton.
And here is the Traveling Coupe built in 1919.
This collar was made by Hermes for Ettorie to go along with the harness for the Traveling Coupe. It was covered with doeskin.
After World War II, Baron Jean Casier purchased the Traveling Coupe and put his Coat of Arms on the side of its doors.
Here are Mary, and her sister, Carol Freemont-Smith.
This is the Stokes Family Crest painted on the doors of the Brewster Park Drag.
This is the Old Times public road Coach built by Cowland & Selby in 1866. In this photo, it is leaving Piccadilly, London by its previous owner, George Mossman. It is now owned by Harvey and Mary.
This spare collar of straw that shapes to fit almost any of the horses in the team, was carried on the Old Times Coach.
This is the Spare Kit in the boot of the Old Times.
This is the original art work of Lynwood Palmer painted in 1908 on the panels of the Old Times. It was of Alfred G. Vanderbuilt’s favorite coach horse.
Here is Mary Waller opening a cooler carried in the rear of the park drag. These trunks were the start of the tail gate parties 100-years ago.
This is a Private Omnibus, part of the Waller Carriage collection. The Omnibus was used for touring, family shopping and for carrying luggage and guests to and from the train station.
This photo is of two people riding on a mechanical horse, in the exercise room on the Titanic. Very few were made and the Wallers have one in their collection.
Here, Mary is holding a photo of a mechanical horse, and standing in front of an actual mechanical horse.
Here is another stunning coach in the Waller collection – a Brewster Brougham dated 1875.
And here is a pony Spider Phaeton made in recent times by Harley Chandler. A Phaeton was a sporty open carriage popular in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and drawn by one or two horses.
The Bronson Wagon was used for informal outings in the country, and became quite popular by the 1900s. I own a Brewster Bronson Wagon that was previously part of David Rockefeller’s collection. I keep it at my farm.
Here is a photo of Mary’s mother, Hope Procter and sister Beatrice, in the 1930s.
And here is the Governess Cart driven by Mary’s mother, Hope. It was made especially to hold children, with high sides to prevent anyone from bouncing out.
The Waller collection also includes this straw cover – used so the ladies entering the carriage would not soil their dresses from the dirt off the wheel. It would be carried on the floor of the carriage when not in use.
This is a special lap robe used while riding in a sleigh – and look, it has its original sleigh bells.
Four of us stop for a quick photo before the ride. I am standing with Kelly Casella, Carol, and Mary.
The horses are put to the carriage for the Sunday drive. The horse in the forefront, Bizet, is a Dutch Warmblood – so beautiful.
We’re all ready and set to go. I am riding with Harvey, Mary, and Kelly. We all wore formal Coaching attire – for gentlemen, dark suits with top hats, and for ladies, long-sleeved jackets and brimmed hats.
At the start of the ride, we pass the neighbor’s home next to the Waller farm.
I took some quick snapshots of sights along our route. Naumkeag Naumkeag is the former country estate of noted New York City lawyer Joseph Hodges Choate. The 44 room, shingle style country house designed principally by Stanford White of McKim, Mead & White, was constructed in 1886 and 1887.
Here is Naumkeag from the front.
Here we are traveling on Main Street in Stockbridge.
We passed in front of the Red Lion Inn in the village of Stockbridge. The Red Lion was originally built as a tavern in 1773.
The Mission House in Stockbridge was built between 1739 and 1742 by a Christian missionary to the local Mahicans. It is a National Historic Landmark.
The Coaches lined up waiting for traffic to clear.
Here we are at the Norman Rockwell Museum.
Lots of spectators lined up by the museum to see the polished carriages and horses.
There’s Carlos and my doggies.
Here’s a shot of us at the Norman Rockwell Museum.
On another Coach – John White and his passengers. The next stop was lunch at Southmayd Farm, a historic mid-19th century 80-acre estate.
Here is another Coach driven by Tim Butterfield arriving for lunch. The Coach driver is called the “whip”.
Walter and Ted Ayers are driving their four polo ponies. In keeping with Gilded Age tradition, each Coach carries two grooms to assist the horses and serve the passengers.
Ted Ayers is tooting his own horn. The horn-blower sounds a call when needed for a turn or to assert the right of way.
Here we are at the lunch destination – Southmayd Farm owned by Jamie and Ani Kiggen.
Here I am in the kitchen with Camie, Albert, and Loretta Tenuta. Loretta owns SoMa Catering which prepared the lunch. http://www.somacatering.com
The Coachmen enjoy lunch in the tent that overlooks pastures and the Stockbridge golf course.
While in the area, I stopped in a remote section of the Berkshire Mountains in Middlefield, Massachusetts to visit the old 1800s country schoolhouse we bought when my daughter, Alexis, was just months old. At the time, it had no bathroom and no electricity, but we loved it.I learned a lot about restoration and renovation from working on this home.
Here I am in front of the house – it was so nice to se it again.