Blowing Rock and Mitford
Is Blowing Rock Mitford?
Blowing Rock is considered to be Mitford because author Jan Karon lived here when she was inspired to write At Home in Mitford and other books in the series.
Which Mitford sites correspond to actual Blowing Rock locations?
- St. Mary of the Hill’s Episcopal Church: Father Tim was an Episcopalian priest at Cynthia’s and Father Tim’s church, The Lord’s Chapel.
- Flat Top Manor: Miss Sadie’s House inspiration, the manor can be seen to the north from almost any high spot in Blowing Rock. The manor overlooks Blowing Rock from the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is surrounded by 3600 acres of forest, meadow, and old apple orchards. You can find the Cone’s Apple Barn along the trails.
- Memorial Park: Although Blowing Rock doesn’t have a town square, right in the middle of our downtown is the Memorial Park. A monument to those native sons who gave their lives defending our nation is prominently displayed at the front of the park.
- Sonny’s Grill: Mitford’s Grill, where all the locals eat. Sonny’s no longer stands, but is commemorated by a plaque at the former site next to Six Pence Pub.
- Windwood Antiques: Blowing Rock used to have two small grocers on Main Street. Craig’s, where Jan shopped for fresh Globe corn and other treats, now houses Windwood Antiques (note the original floors).
Blowing Rock hosted events called Mitford Days in 2007 and Return to Mitford in 2011**, where Mitford readers could come and enjoy the local atmosphere and imagine it as Mitford. On the event tour, fans also passed by the stone wall in the Mayview neighborhood, the hospital on the hill, and the offices of The Blowing Rocket newspaper, where the first Mitford stories were published.
Here is a letter from Jan Karon, published originally in the 2007 guide to Mitford Days in Blowing Rock:
“There are Mitford’s all over the country. And though I’ve been to many of them, Blowing Rock is my favorite.
What does it take to be a Mitford, anyway? The most fundamental requirement is a true sense of community and connection. That’s what all of us want, what each of us craves, and some little towns manage it better than others. It requires that we actually care about our neighbors and it especially requires that we be able to put in more than we take out.
As someone who has made a home in several quite different places, I’ve learned it’s hard to make Mitford real. It takes energy and caring and commitment and reach out and reaching in and forgiveness and understanding and laughter and faith and especially, perhaps, the willingness to let go of judging others, which is definitely God’s job.
I hope – and believe – that you will find most, and possibly even all of these qualities in the people of Blowing Rock, where the first books in the Mitford series were written. On occasion, the traffic may get a little congested, and a parking space impossible to find, but then, no Mitford is ever perfect – or it wouldn’t be Mitford.
Along with Father Tim and Cynthia and Dooley and Miss Sadie and Uncle Billy and all the other characters whose spirits are both real and present, I bid you the warmest of welcomes. We’re proud to have you and very eager to please you.
May God bless you tenderly as you laugh and dream and make fond memories in our little town with the big heart!
The Mitford series is published by Penguin Random House. More information on all of Jan Karon’s books can be found at www.mitfordbooks.com.
**Mitford Days in Blowing Rock and Return to Mitford were one-time events produced in conjunction with the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce and Penguin Books. There are no current plans for more Mitford-themed events in Blowing Rock. Find more information at BlowingRock.com