Westover Church 2008 Autumn Pilgrimage House Tour

Charles City, Virginia – Charles City County history will once again be on display this year, for a good cause. Westover Church announced that the 14th Autumn Pilgrimage House and Garden Tour will be held Saturday, September 27, 2008, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nine historic locations will be featured this year.  New additions to the tour this year include a farmer’s market and two homes being featured for the first time!

Over the years, the tour has generated more than $120,000 for Westover Church and its charitable outreach programs. “Meals on Wheels” is the primary recipient, along with other local, national and international concerns. Significant contributions have been made to the Katrina storm victims, the Crow Indian Reservation in North Dakota, and the Diocesan Relief Fund, among others.

Charles City County boasts a wealth of history, not only in terms of events and the people who helped shape our country, but also in terms of architecture. From imposing 18th century plantation houses to smaller domestic structures, churches and new homes, the county offers a stunning breadth of American architecture. Many of the houses overlook the James River. Along with the appeal of historic houses, there will be two contemporary houses on the tour.

A truly notable architectural tour in Charles City must include visits to its numerous historic plantations and private homes. The ancestral homes of past presidents and notables of Virginia society serve as glimpses of the past, which bring past events that shaped our country to life. On this year’s tour are Westover (1730), Berkeley (1726), Sherwood Forest (begun c.1660 with additions through 1845). Kittiewan (built c. 1728, recently donated to the Archaeological Society of Virginia, and is currently undergoing physical and archaeological study), Burlington Farm (c.1770-90), Dogham Farm (c.1700s), Eagles Nest (c.1685), Edgewood Bed & Breakfast (c.1849) and Woodbourne (1813).

Most of the properties on the tour are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a Virginia Historic Landmark or National Historic Landmark. There are fine gardens for visitors to explore at Berkeley, Burlington, Dogham, Eagles Nest, Edgewood and Westover.

Transitioning between the old and the new is the River House at Hardens, a 150 year-old grain barn built at Hardens, which was moved in the 1970s to its current location and converted to living quarters. Situated on Hardens Bluff on 2.5 acres across from the Presquile National Wildlife Refuge, the residence offers a natural and serene setting on the James River. Mariwood is a charming 3200 square feet post and beam construction home situated on a bluff overlooking the James River. The home is set among 300 wooded acres and also features a beautiful stable of post and beam construction. These two homes are being featured on the tour for the first time!

Two historic churches on the tour include Bethany Presbyterian Church, a beautiful Greek Revival church built in 1869. The white frame building has a classical facade with a portico supported by Doric columns. Members of the congregation will serve refreshments during the tour. The second church, Westover Parish Church (Episcopal), is one of the oldest churches in the country. Its predecessor was constructed between 1630 and 1637 on Westover plantation. About 1730, the original structure was dismantled and reconstructed at its present site on Herring Creek. Through the centuries, farmers, plantation owners, slaves have worshipped at Westover Parish Church. Notable attendees at the church include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, John Tyler and Theodore Roosevelt.

The day of the pilgrimage will kick off with a presentation of the foxhounds from Princess Anne Hunt Club at Sherwood Forest Plantation from 9 until 9:30 a.m. A variety of activities will follow at Westover Church throughout the day, including lunch time entertainment by various groups from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., featuring gospel singing by the Charles City Spiritual Ensemble and The Virginia Benefit Chorale, an a capella choir and a Colonial dancing troupe. A Civil War era encampment will also be at displayed at Westover Church.

New this year will be a farmer’s market featuring local products and produce. The Women of The Memorial United Methodist Church and the youth of Westover Church will sell homemade goods and a la carte lunch items, including chili. Two distinctive plants highly favored in local gardens will be available for sale: Poet’s Laurel (danae racemosa), an evergreen shrub useful for flower arrangements and Spider Lily bulbs (lycoris radiata of the amaryllis family), a favorite fall blooming flower.

Raffle Tickets:
Two winners will be chosen from the raffle drawing at 5 p.m. for either a one-week stay in the Outer Banks at Pirate’s Cove, Manteo, NC or an afternoon tea or wine reception at Sherwood Forest Plantation with a tour by the grandson of 10th United States President, John Tyler. Tickets for the raffle are $25 each or 5 tickets for $100. For more information or to purchase raffle tickets, contact Sharon Christian (804) 829-5231 or sharron1952@aol.com. The raffle tickets will be on sale the day of the tour at Eagles Nest, The River House at Hardens, Westover Church and Sherwood Forest Plantation.

Ticket and Lunch Information:
Tour tickets may be purchased in advance through September 22, 2008 for $30 per person. Tickets may be purchased on the day of the tour for $35 per person at Westover Church, Eagles Nest, Sherwood Forest and the River House at Hardens. Box lunches may be ordered in advance for $12 each and can be picked up at Westover Church between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Advance tickets and lunch reservations contact:
For advance admission tickets, raffle tickets and lunch reservations; send checks, payable to Westover Church by September 22, to Teresa Coyne, 13101 Tyler’s Mill Road, Charles City, VA 23030. Tickets may be purchased on the day of tour, September 27 at Westover Church, Eagles Nest, Sherwood Forest and the River House at Hardens.

For more information or questions:
Westover Parish Church webpage: www.westoverparish.org/AutumnPilgrimage.html