The Somerset House Bed & Breakfast

P. O. Box 556 30556 Washington Street, Princess Anne, Maryland 21853
Innkeeper(s): Deborah and Jay Parker
  • Introduction

    Somerset House - Princess Anne, MarylandSituated in the beautiful historic town of Princess Anne, Maryland, Somerset House is a casually elegant reminder of times gone by. period antiques, brilliant chandeliers, soaring ceilings, cozy surroundings, and of course, Eastern Shore hospitality. This is the perfect setting for romantic weekends, gatherings of friends or family, quick getaways, weddings, and retreats. On the National Registry of Historic Homes, this is one of the premier antebellum homes on the lower Eastern Shore.

    Wake up each morning to fresh coffee waiting for you outside your room, then join us in the dining room for a delicious breakfast, made fresh in our kitchens.

    We serve a full breakfast, including an exquisite selection of English breakfast breads and American cuisine with a Southern influence.

    Somerset House signEnjoy the Princess Anne Boxwood Garden, c. 1850, credited to General George Handy, which is just across the street and easily viewed from the bedrooms.Experience the Historic Walking Tour of 38 buildings, including the Teackle Mansion and St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, c.1879, Manokin Presbyterian Church, c. 1765, and numerous homes dating from the 18th and 19th centuries.

    The Somerset House is a perfect base from which to explore the antique shops of the area or take a ferry to Smith Island, or Tangier Island, or take off for the famous beach in Ocean City.

    The Somerset House is decorated with period furnishings and offers 6 rooms within the two houses on the estate. Our two most elegant rooms feature twelve-foot ceilings, antique queen-size beds, fireplaces and private baths, one with private sauna.

    Come in through the gracious doorway topped with a palladium window; the door way was saved from a antebellum house that was taken down and moved to Somerset House in the 1980s. You will enter the welcoming foyer and see the grandeur of the eleven foot ceilings, wide pine floors, and charming antiques including oriental rugs, grandfather's clock, cellaret, French maps, and documents. The stairway has a bowed mahogany banister and tiger maple balusters that leads to the upper levels. On the landing you will find a Korean wedding chest on there is a bowl of Swiss chocolates for your enjoyment.

    Somerset House living roomThe living room is dominated by the Steinway grand piano, over one hundred years old, and still able to create a beautiful sound. There is a Turkish rug, French kneeler, a chest with a collection of antique jade, and a Korean wedding chest that serves as a tea table. You will also find a collection of Latin American santons. A French tapestry rises over the working fire place.

    In the dining room you will be seated at the antique Potthast table which can seat eighteen or be cozy enough for four. In addition to the collection of oyster plates, you will see Wedgewood china and cut crystal. Portraits of the Parker girls in spring gardens grace the south wall and a Balinese shadow puppet is on the east wall. The windows are dressed with crewel drapery. There is a brass fire screen in front of the working fire place.

    WiFi is available throughout the house. While there are working fire places in each of the guest rooms we ask that you not build a fire for safety reasons.

  • Somerset Gardens

    Somerset House gardenFollow the brick path beneath the towering Clay gingko tree past the front porch of Somerset House and you will be amazed to find the lovely garden almost hidden from downtown Princess Anne.

    A formal parterre with dwarf boxwoods is shaded by the gingko and a towering pecan. You will find a charming colonial garden house topped with a copper dove weather vane anchoring one side of this garden and a ring of rosemary in the center. The garden beds are filled with peonies, daffodils, tulips, lilies, hostas, tree peonies, and other flowers throughout the season.

    Somerset House garden walkwayBeyond the Chippendale fence and a stand of tulip magnolias is a raised herb garden that furnishes finishing touches to your breakfast, including tarragon, basil, chives, sage, thyme, and others.

    Follow the path farther beyond the red Chippendale gate and you will be in the bowling green, which features espaliered pear trees, fan-shaped cherry trees and a prodigious fig. The lawn is surrounded with mature unusual trees that provide privacy as well as a home for nesting birds. Watch the gold fish and frogs lazily pass the time in the water lily studded pond. Play a game of bocce with authentic wooden balls or relax and enjoy the fragrances and breezes of this secret garden far from the madding crowd.

    Somerset House garden fountainIt is the perfect setting for a wedding, family gathering, cocktail reception, or other outdoor social event.

    In pleasant weather you might find the garden a delightful place to enjoy breakfast in the morning or a glass of wine upon arrival.

    Across the street and easily seen from the west bedrooms is the town’s boxwood garden created in the 1820’s by the Handy family and lovingly maintained by Bob and Lis Walker. Let us make arrangements with the gardeners to tour this lovely place as well.

  • History

    Somerset House entry with staircaseSomerset House was built in 1852 as a town resident for John Woodland Crisfield (1806-1897), one of the most notable political and economic figures on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. His career encompassed all the major regional developments of the time: land speculation, oyster production, the secession crisis, and railroad development. As a young lawyer from Chestertown he became active in local politics and was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 1836 where he championed internal improvements, particularly canals and railroads and the construction of flour mills and shipyards in Somerset County. He was elected as a Whig Congressman in 1847 and befriended Henry Clay as well as another young congressman from Illinois known as Abraham Lincoln.

    Clay gave him a slip of a gingko tree, which now graces the entry way of Somerset House.

    His last tenure in Congress (1861-1863) was a stormy one where he was buffeted by secession and slavery issues.

    After the Civil War, Crisfield organized and served as president of the Eastern Shore Railroad and built a line from Salisbury to Somers Cove that transformed the local oyster industry into a nationally oriented business. The grateful citizens of Somers Cove renamed their town Crisfield in his honor.

  • Guest Comments

    Somerset House table“Lovely accommodations, congenial host” - Reviewed June 18, 2012

    "We stayed at this antique-filled -- but not fussy -- B&B while at a family reunion in Princess Anne. The circa-1852 house has been lovingly maintained and comfortably furnished -- slept well in a spacious, elegant room and enjoyed a hot shower in an updated bathroom (across the hall but private). The backyard is big and verdant with many plantings, a patio, and a fishpond. Breakfast incorporates eggs from the hosts' own hens -- we were served delicious blueberry-cornmeal pancakes and a big bowl of fresh fruit, along with plenty of good coffee and orange juice. Jay, our host, was congenial to chat with and enjoyed showing the features of the house and grounds. (His wife/co-host was out of town). He is very knowledgeable about the Princess Anne area too. We look forward to staying here again." - mermaid86, Falls Church, VA

    “Elegant beauty, unsurpassed hospitality” - Reviewed May 27, 2011

    "We stayed one night in the Keswick Room as we traveled through eastern shore Maryland. The Somerset House is elegant and beautiful, comfortable and inviting. Innkeepers Deborah and Jay were most gracious and entertaining, treating us like family. We enjoyed wine and cheese on the back patio garden on arrival as well as a superb breakfast of blueberry pancakes in the beautiful dining room the next morning. Jay has a wealth of knowledge of the area and is a most enjoyable conversationalist." - joclair, New Bern, North Carolina

    “Wonderful Eastern Shore Weekend at Somerset House” - Reviewed August 9, 2010

    "We just returned from our trip last night and are still thinking about the wonderful time we had at Somerset House with Jay and Deborah. The were wonderful and so easy to be with. My husband, one year old daughter and I took a trip out to explore the Eastern Shore for the weekend. We decided on the Somerset House for our two night home base. It was fantastic. Deborah is a wonderful cook and Jay has so much knowledge about the area. It really added to our trip and helped make it such a success. The house is was a great visit.

    One sure to ask Jay about the Smith Island Sweet Shoppe Cakes. You can order one thru him or on your own if that works better. We found out they are the state cake of Maryland and I have to say they are absolutely delicious...not just a little novelty.

    Anyway...two big thumbs up for Somerset House...ENJOY!!" - roxygirl80, Washington, DC

    “Like Staying With Friends” - Reviewed June 9, 2010

    "Staying at the Somerset House is like staying with friends. Jay and Deborah Parker are welcoming and gracious hosts who are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about historic Princess Anne and Maryland's Eastern Shore. From enjoying the wonderful breakfasts in the beautiful dining room to sipping wine in the boxwood gardens, we found staying at this antique filled historic home to be very comfortable and perfectly located for walking around the town. Our very large bedroom, with four post antique bed, also had a fireplace, an adjoining room with a twin bed that would be great for anyone travelling with a child, and a private bath located across the hall. We enjoyed calling Somerset House "home" for a few days and look forward to doing so again!" - tea4mepls, Charlotte

    “Peaceful weekend with gracious hosts” - Reviewed May 25, 2010

    "A wonderfully peaceful weekend hosted by Deborah and Jay Parker, a lovely couple who welcomed us with grace and warmth! Jay is a wealth of knowledge and sent us to great places to eat and explore! The house is stunning in character and filled with antiques and period charm but with surprising amenities (sauna, bath robes, lovely garden)! We slept extremely well and thoroughly enjoyed our stay!" - gondemar, Washington, PA

  • Driving Directions

    From Baltimore, MD (approximately 2 hours 45 minutes)

    1. Take I-97 south from Beltway (I-695) toward Annapolis/Bay Bridge (Approx 18 miles from Beltway to Rte 50 turnoff)
    2. Bear left onto Rte 50 East toward Bay Bridge
    3. Continue on Rte 50 East toward Cambridge (Approx 60 mi. to Cambridge)
    4. Continue on Rte 50 East past Cambridge toward Salisbury (Approx 30 mi. to Salisbury)
    5. Approaching Salisbury, take Rte 50 East Bypass toward Norfolk, blending onto Rte 13 South
    6. Continue on Rte 13 South toward Princess Anne.(Approx 20 miles from start of bypass to Princess Anne)
    7. Turn left onto Mt. Vernon Road, marked Princess Anne Town Center
    8. Turn right (south) at Stop Sign onto Somerset Avenue
    9. Proceed into Princess Anne Town Center
    10. Proceed through two traffic lights at Broad Street and Prince Willliam Street
    11. Turn left onto Washington Street and Somerset House in second house on left 30556 Washington Street

    From Washington, DC (approximately 2 hours 45 minutes)

    1. New York NW becomes US-50 E
    2. Continue on Rte 50 East and cross the Bay Bridge
    3. Continue on Rte 50 East toward Cambridge (approx. 60 miles)
    4. Continue on Rte 50 East through Cambridge toward Salisbury (Approx 30 miles)
    5. Approaching Salisbury, take Rte 50 East Bypass, toward Norfolk, which blends into Rte 13 South. Continue following signs toward Norfolk
    6. Continue on Rte 13 South toward Princess Anne (Approx 20 miles from start of Bypass to Princess Anne)
    7. Turn left onto Mt. Vernon Road, marked Princess Anne Town Center
    8. At first Stop Sign, turn right (south) onto Somerset Avenue
    9. Proceed into Princess Anne Town Center
    10. Proceed through two traffic lights (at Broad Street and Prince William Street)
    11. Turn at next left onto Washington Street
    12. Somerset House is second house on the left
    13. Somerset House number is 30556, and there is a sign at the curb

    From New York/ New Jersey (approximately 4 hours from NYC)

    1. I-95 S becomes NEW JERSEY TURNPIKE S (68.49 miles)
    2. Continue across the Delaware Memorial Bridge
    3. Take the US13 S/US301 S/US40 W Exit toward Baltimore/Dover-Norfolk
    4. Merge onto North DuPont Highway (6.2 miles)
    5. N duPont Hwy becomes S duPont Hwy/US13 South (2.8 miles)
    6. Merge onto North DuPont Highway (6.2 miles)
    7. N duPont Hwy becomes S duPont Hwy/US13 South (2.8 miles)
    8. S duPont Hwy/US13 South beocomes DE-1 south portions toll) (34.8 miles)
    9. Take Exit 97 and merge onto Us 13 South toward Salisbury/Norfolk(53.8 miles)
    10. Merge left onto US13 South towards Norfolk(approx 17 miles to Princess Anne)
    11. Turn left onto Mt. Vernon Road, marked Princess Anne Town Center
    12. At first Stop sign, turn right (south) onto Somerset Avenue
    13. Proceed into Princess Anne Town Center
    14. Proceed through two traffic lights (at Broad Street and Prince William Street)
    15. Turn at next left onto Washington Street
    16. Somerset House is second house on the left