Make a pilgrimage to view history, horticulture

Published 4:50 pm Monday, September 9, 2019

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By Kristi Hendricks

Searching for an autumn garden adventure highlighting horticulture, architecture and history to boot? Then the Sept. 28 Autumn Pilgrimage House and Garden Tour is the fall event for you. For nearly a quarter-century, Westover Episcopal Church has sponsored this tour showcasing the unique blend of the area’s architecture, decorative arts and landscaping, from America’s earliest plantations to today’s modern structures.

Stops on the tour are linked by scenic Route 5, America’s earliest English thoroughfare, which is lined by historic plantations established in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Autumn Pilgrimage Tour provides the context to experience the history of this area from the early 1600s to today.

Featured in this year’s tour will be nine venues including four plantations, two B&B’s, one modern home and one very small charming home plus the historic Westover Episcopal Church (the sponsor of the tour). Tour at your own pace.

Tour time is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Stirrup Cup with The Princess Anne Hunt Club will begin at 9 a.m. at the Sherwood Forest Plantation. Luncheon food will be available at the church. The following excerpts offer just a taste of the experiences that await tour guests:

  • Westover, one of the grandest and most beautiful of the colonial plantations, was built in the mid-18th century. After exploring the manor house, stroll the expansive grounds and admire the formal gardens and well-preserved dependencies.
  • Berkeley’s Georgian manor house, built in 1726 of brick fired on the plantation, occupies a landscaped hilltop site overlooking the majestic James River. Berkeley’s gardens and lawn extend a full quarter mile from the front door of the mansion to the river banks. The 100-year-old boxwood garden and 10 acres of formal gardens represent one of the most extensive landscapes in Virginia.
  • Shirley Plantation is Virginia’s first plantation, founded in 1613, after a royal land grant carved the plantation out of the frontier. Shirley Plantation is the oldest family-owned business in North America dating to 1638. Self-guide through formal gardens and eight original colonial outbuildings.
  • Sherwood Forest Plantation was the home of the 10th U.S. President John Tyler. Known to be the longest frame house in America, the manor house is over 300 feet long. Sherwood Forest reflects the lifestyle of this mid-19th century presidential family. Explore the wooded landscape and 12 dependencies surrounding President Tyler’s home.

Visit to preview all of the houses and gardens included in this year’s tour. Each event ticket is valid for one day of admission at all sites on the 2019 Autumn Pilgrimage House Tour and can be purchased by calling 757-561-6430. Tickets are also available at Westover Church, Westover Plantation and Sherwood Forest on the day of the event only.