Guarding the lintels

Witch marks 4 Witch marks 3 Witch marks 2 Witch marks 1See these round carvings scratched into the wood of the Winslow House lintel? They’re faint, but they’re there!

 They’re called witch marks. Or daisy wheels. Or hexafoils, or apotropaic marks, or charms. A carpenter’s compass could be used to create a perfect circle with six flower-like petals meeting in the center (hence the term daisy wheel!), or cruder designs could be created with a knife or nail. These colonial pieces of graffiti probably represented the sun, or God, or other positive things. The Winslow House has several of them, scratched into the wooden beam over the master fireplace in the winter kitchen.

 Their purpose? To protect the home from witches and evil spirits. Witch marks, or whatever you choose to call them, were a form of protective folk magic used by colonists to guard doors, windows, and hearths; all places where evil beings were feared to enter. Such markings have been discovered scratched into old beams, carved onto boxes containing valuables, and even embroidered into household linens. They began appearing in English buildings shortly after the Protestant Reformation and were still in use in the 19th century British colony of Australia!

 Good to know, as we get closer and closer to Halloween. If you’re a New Englander of the old school, and you happen to have a compass lying around, there’s no harm in taking precautions, right?

 From the 1699 Winslow House, Happy Halloween!

“Here Lies Buried” Cemetery Bus Tour

Time is running out to claim your reservation for this Saturday’s “Here Lies Buried” Bus Tour of some of the South Shore’s most iconic cemeteries and burying grounds, sponsored by the Back Roads of the South Shore (BRSS).

On Saturday, September 27, journey through Hull, Hingham, Marshfield, and Duxbury and learn about their storied past residents. Cemetery tours will be presented by the directors, archivists, and curators of BRSS member organizations, creating an intimate glimpse into life and death on the South Shore of the past.

For more information, and to register, please visit or contact the Alden House at 781-934-9092 or by email at

Introducing new October Events!

We’ve been busy here at the Historic 1699 Winslow House and Cultural Center. September brings cool weather and school tours, and October brings our final on-site programs of the year. Haven’t had the chance to check out our upcoming events? Now’s your chance!

Saturday, October 11: Haunted Tavern Night

6 PM: Twilight Tour of the Historic 1699 Winslow House

7 PM: Food, drink, and entertainment

Featuring songs and stories by musical group An Unkindness of Ravens. Everyone likes a night at the pub, and everyone knows that a night at the pub is better with a few ghosts! Whether they’re real or not is a conversation for a different night.

Visit for more information.

Sunday, October 12: Historical Triangle Scavenger Hunt

1 – 4 PM

Hey Marshfield residents, have you ever noticed that the 1699 Winslow House, the Marcia Thomas House, and the Daniel Webster Estate are all within half a mile of each other on Webster Street? We did! And we’re proud to announce that this Historical Triangle will be hosting a special, family-friendly Scavenger Hunt on October 12.

Visit for more information.

Saturday, October 18: Twilight Tours

Join the 1699 Winslow House for our final event of the season, and for your final chance this year to explore the dimly lit rooms of a colonial mansion. There’s a rumor that Harry Houdini might be attending!

Visit for more information.

Coming Soon…

Visitors to our site may look at the “Upcoming Events” to the right and think that the Winslow House is nearing the end of its 2014 programming. I’m happy to report that this is not the case.

Starting in September our tour hours will change, but only so that we can prepare for a new roster of events coming this autumn. Like the 40th annual congress of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants in Plymouth, during which we are happy to be able to host the Winslow Heritage Society for their inaugural meeting!

Or our new Colonial tour, specifically designed to enthrall young visitors with the thrill, challenges, and hardships of 18th century living.

Or our ever-popular Tavern Night… in October… with a haunted twist…

And more! Stay tuned for further information on Winslow House events in the months to come. Better yet, subscribe to our mailing list to make sure that you don’t miss out on all that we have to offer this autumn.

Remembering William M. Riegel

The WinslWilliam Riegelow Association was saddened to hear recently of the death of William M. Riegel, who passed away on July 20, 2014 at the age of 86. Bill served in turn as a naval officer in the United States Sixth Fleet, the President and later Chairman of the Board of Riegel Products Corporation, and the founder of the consulting firm of Riegel Associates, based in Duxbury, Massachusetts.

In his retirement, Mr. Riegel was an active supporter of the Historic Winslow House, serving multiple terms as a director on our Board of Governors.

Our deepest condolences go out to his family and friends.

Join the Marshfield Mariner on a Tour of the House

The Marshfield Marnier came for a visit to the Winslow House earlier this season and met up with Aaron Dougherty.

We were privileged to have Mariner Intern Nick Arena film a tour of the House. Thank you to the Mariner, Mr. Arena and Editor Kristi Funderburk.

In case you haven’t had a chance to visit the property and learn the history of the Winslows, here’s a brief taste of the experience from

Wicked Local Link: Join us for a tour of the Winslow House

The Negro Spiritual: History and Influence

1699 Historic Winslow House and Cultural Center is pleased to present a musical history program on Saturday, August 2, at 2:00 p.m. entitled “The Negro Spiritual: History and Influence.” Vocalist Melodee Savage will perform eight spirituals with commentary in-between. Jazz pianist George W. Russell, Jr. will accompany on
keyboard. Negro spirituals are known for poignant words and rich melodies. Through verse and song, the audience will learn how these “Black and Unknown Bards” used their folk songs and how these songs made their way into American culture.

Tickets for the program are $10 for members and $15 for non-members and are available in advance by calling 781-837-5753 , by visiting or emailing or may be purchased at the door.  Light refreshments will be served.

Ms. Savage, a Marshfield resident, has performed professionally on Broadway,  off-Broadway, in national tours and in regional theater as a singer, actor and dancer.   She received critical acclaim for her solo vocal performances with the American Jazz Orchestra,  Tulsa Philharmonic Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and an All-Star Jazz Band at Carnegie Hall which recreated Duke Ellington’s premier concert of 1943.  For more information, visit her website at

George W. Russell, Jr. is an inspirational jazz pianist, composer and educator and a Professor of Harmony at Berklee College of Music. For more information, visit

I visited the Winslow House when I was in 3rd Grade…

IMG_0277At the Winslow House we would like to give a hearty huzzah to our Marshfield Third Graders as another year of school field trips came to a close in June.  As usual, all students, teachers, and chaperones showed the best of our town’s spirit, curiosity (about all things history) and community.

Some schools even came dressed in era appropriate clothing!

Also thank you to all our docents and Marshfield Historical Society and Daniel Webster Estate colleagues for making it another year to remember!

David Porter and the Epic Voyage of the U.S.S. Essex during the War of 1812

Adventure on the high seas takes focus as the Winslow House Authors Series starts for the 2014 season. Wednesday, June 11th, noted Naval Historian George Daughan will appear and discuss the life and adventures of Boston-born Captain David Porter (1780 – 1843).

While Porter’s Naval career included captaining the USS Constitution and acting as commander-in- chief of the Mexican Navy, of focus this evening will be his time as commander of the USS Essex  as highlighted in Mr. Daughan’s latest publication, The Shining Sea:  David Porter and the Epic Voyage of the U.S.S. Essex during the War of 1812.

Mr. Daughan has appeared twice prior at the Winslow House to discuss his earlier books:  If By Sea: The Forging of the American Navy–from the Revolution to the War of 1812 and 1812: The Navy’s War.    If by Sea won the 2008 Samuel Eliot Morison Award, and  1812 was acknowledged with the 2012 gold medal in the history division of the Independent Publisher book Awards and also the 2012 George Pendleton Prize.

Winslow House Welcomes Aaron Dougherty

The Association is pleased to announce that Aaron Dougherty has joined the Winslow House as interim executive director. He has been appointed to the position effective June 1st.

Aaron has been researching and interpreting the colonial New England experience since 2009. A native of Michigan, in 2010 he received his MA in early American History from Eastern Michigan University. Favorite subjects of study included the sociology of the Salem Witch Trials, the economic and social development of New England and Virginia, and religious practices in early America. His capstone essay explored the influence of the American Revolution on American Indian nationalism prior to the War of 1812, and its impact on Tecumseh’s Indian Confederacy in the old Northwest.

From 2010 until 2012, he worked as a first-person Colonial Interpreter in Plimoth Plantation’s 1627 English Village, portraying Plimoth resident John Winslow and other settlers. During the spring of 2012 he received an appointment as a seasonal Park Ranger at Boston National Historical Park, giving tours of Boston’s Freedom Trail and creating educational programming for Faneuil Hall and Bunker Hill. Since 2012, he’s honed his experience in the Massachusetts museum field by volunteering in Plimoth Plantation’s Library and Collections department, carrying out grant-writing for Pilgrim Hall Museum, and conducting research for the Plymouth Antiquarian Society.

We hope you will join us in welcoming Aaron  to the Winslow House Family.

The Ancestral Home of the Founding Family of Marshfield