Kendall Lee inherited the Ditchley estate from his father in 1735. He built the major/central portion of the current house, which is on the National and State Register of Historic Places, circa 1752. Kendall Lee left the house to his eldest son, William, who subsequently sold off the Ditchley estate between 1789 and 1792.
The next recorded owner of the Ditchley manor house, and 447 associated acres, was Colonel James Ball, Jr. Ditchley remained in the Ball family until sometime after the civil war. In 1840 a single-story extension was added to the south side of the original house.
Alfred I. and Jessie Ball Dupont purchased the estate in 1929. They added a matching extension to the north end of the house, which included a kitchen and butler’s pantry. Additional significant changes to the house at this time included the addition of 4 indoor bathrooms and extensive foundation stabilization work. In the 1930s a caretakers house/servants quarters was built to the northwest of the manor house.
Following the death of Jessie Ball Dupont in 1970, the estate eventually passed into the custody of the Dupont foundation.
In 2014 “Ditchley”, consisting of the manor house, caretakers house, a beach house, and ~160 surrounding acres, was purchased by Cathy Calhoun and Paul Grosklags. They have completed extensive renovations of the manor house and caretakers house, established a large apple orchard to support the making of hard apple cider, and are raising grass-fed beef and heritage hogs on the property.
They have placed the entire property in a conservation easement.
Colonel Richard Lee (the “Immigrant) arrived in Virginia in 1639 as the personal secretary of the newly named royal governor of the colony, Sir Francis Wyatt. In the course of the 1650s, Richard Lee acquired some 1400 acres in the Dividing Creek area of Northumberland County.
Hancock Lee was the fifth surviving son of Col Richard Lee and his wife, Anne Constable. He inherited 600 acres at Dividing Creek from his father, and around 1688 he and his wife, Mary (Kendall), built the first plantation house on the land which later became known as Ditchley. Hancock Lee died in 1709. He and his first wife Mary are buried in the Ditchley cemetery, located several hundred yards to the south of the existing manor house.
Richard Lee (1691-1735), the surviving son of Hancock and Mary Lee, inherited the Ditchley estate. There is some opinion that it was Richard who gave the plantation the name “Ditchley”, possibly on the mistaken belief that his family was closely allied with an Oxfordshire Lee family with an estate in “Ditchley Park” England.
Ditchley Cider Works (DCW) is located on ~162 acres in the Northern Neck of VA, 3 miles northeast of Kilmarnock. Located between Dividing Creek and Prentice Creek, the history of the property dates to the mid-1600s. (link to history)
Opened for business in the fall of 2018, DCW is a small, veteran-owned and operated maker of hard apple cider, producer of pork, beef, and poultry products, and venue for group events and experience visits.
The property consists of a mix of orchards, grass pastures, wooded areas, and has ~2.5 miles of natural shoreline - including a modest-sized sand beach. Major structures on the property include a newly restored Manor House (c.1752); a 1930s caretaker/servants quarters which has been renovated into our “Cider House”; and a 1950s “kit house” located on the water (which will be phase III of our renovation projects).
All of our cider is produced from apples grown on the Ditchley property. In 2015 and 2016 we planted more than 50 varieties of cider apples. Why so many varieties? We’re still “experimenting” to determine which varieties are best acclimated to life on the Chesapeake Bay! We grow, pick, crush, squeeze all of our apples, and bottle all of our cider, on-site.
Our small herd of grass-fed Belted Galloway cattle and “free-range” (they live in the woods) Tamworth and Large Black heritage hogs keep the grass mowed and the underbrush eliminated. In addition to selling standard cuts of beef and pork, we also produce hand-made, nitrate and nitrite-free, artisan cased sausages.
Indian Runner Ducks, Geese, and Turkeys have been incorporated into our orchard pest management efforts. In the spring and early summer, the ducks and geese provide large quantities of eggs, and in Nov/Dec our geese and turkeys are holiday favorites.
The Manor House, Cider House, and grounds are used to support special occasions from weddings and rehearsal dinners, to antique car shows and group/club events. Overnight accommodations are available in both houses to support group events.
From our modest sand beach, Dividing Creek and it’s opening into the Chesapeake Bay offer vast areas of very lightly used open, but protected, waters to explore via paddle-board or kayak. Additionally, there are miles of lightly traveled country roads to explore the local area on your bicycle - visit nature preserves, historic sites, or just enjoy the open road.
Cathy Calhoun (owner). The entrepreneurial force behind Ditchley Cider Works. Cathy’s vision for the preservation and restoration of the Ditchley Estate has guided our efforts to date. Apple orchards, grass-fed cattle, “free-range” hogs, Manor House renovation, and land conservation were all part of the package which convinced the Dupont Foundation to trust us with the purchase of this historic property.
Cathy spent much of her childhood growing up in a TX town with one stop-sign, no lights, and the population of a small movie theatre (Camp Wood . . . really?). She attended the Naval Academy and spent 10 years in the Navy as a Civil Engineer and SeaBee; started a successful seafood import/export business in Central America - ended when the gov’t wanted to become a “partner”; quickly did become a partner in one of the “big five” (at the time) accounting/consulting firms; grew bored and decided to grow fish in a greenhouse.
Basically can't hold a steady job . . .
With Ditchley she gets to exercise her passions for marketing, animal husbandry, and old things.
Has a “short stature” complex (much like Napoleon?), which is why she makes the team call her “The Boss”.
Paul Grosklags (owner). Fills role as “Free Labor” - aka retired husband. Fits in 2 of 3 “passion” groups above.
Grew up in DeKalb, IL; attended Naval Academy; Navy helicopter pilot and test pilot; 36 years in uniform: retired from a job with a big office and lots of folks to “help” him: envisioned retirement with much paddle-boarding and horseback riding . . . silly boy . . .
Retired life includes cleaning horse stalls, painting the “money pit(s)”, dodging 500+ lbs of “hangry” boar each day at feeding time (only one scar to date), repairing water lines, chasing stray bulls, building fences, fixing old electrical wiring, getting chased by angry turkeys, and having to deal with his childhood nemesis (see next) most days.
Still hasn’t figured out what happened . . .
The "Educator & Arbitrator"
Pam Brown. AKA the “nemesis” of Free Labor (see previous). She spent childhood behaving badly and making sure her little brother got blamed for pretty much everything.
Graduated from Northern Illinois University; spent 37 years in Wisconsin teaching elementary school – with most of those years focused on special needs children (God bless her!); retired in 2018 and moved to Kilmarnock, VA with husband Terry. She also has not yet discovered the “free time” that was supposed to come with retirement.
Works to keep the peace between “The Boss” and “Free Labor” . . . and she thought elementary school kids were irrational . . .
Pam runs the Ditchley Cider Works educational outreach efforts.