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Gloucester tour to feature four properties

Gloucester tour to feature four properties

The Gloucester Historic Garden Week House and Garden Tour will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 27.

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The Gloucester Historic Garden Week House and Garden Tour will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 27.

Gloucester County’s rich history dates from just after the settlement of Jamestown in 1607. Its role during the American Revolution was pivotal. The southern tip of the county’s peninsula extends into the York River and is directly across from Yorktown. This prime military vantage point is the location of one of this tour’s properties, Little England, built in 1716. Visitors will enjoy access to additional private homes and grounds, including Sweetgrass, a low-country style home that looks across the Severn River to Warner Hall, George Washington’s great-great-grandfather’s estate. Also open is Belvinhem Quay, which overlooks Timberneck Creek and is the light-filled home of an artist. Abingdon Episcopal Church, the largest Colonial church in Virginia and one of only eight built in the form of a Latin cross, will be the tour headquarters.

All properties are in the community of Hayes.

The tour will be hosted by The Garden Club of Gloucester. For more information contact Durfee Betts, chair, at 617-448-3724 or Peggy Montgomery, co-chair, at 804-516-5261 or gloucester@vagardenweek.org.

Tickets

Tickets include admission to four tour locations and many other historic/educational sites. Guidebook and local brochures with area maps will be available at the tour headquarters and all tour locations. Children age 12 and under will be admitted free. No single-house tickets will be sold.

The advance purchase tickets are $35 per person and available at www.vagardenweek.org. Tickets also are available locally until Wednesday, April 24, at Angelwing Stationers, Brent & Becky’s Bulbs, Little England Mercantile, and Mathews Visitor Center. Cash or check only.

Day-of-tour tickets will be $45 per person and will be available at the tour headquarters, Abingdon Episcopal Church, and on tour day by credit card, cash or check. Tickets will not be available at the houses.

Tour proceeds fund the restoration and preservation of more than 40 of Virginia’s historic public gardens and landscapes, a research fellowship program, and a Garden Club of Virginia Centennial project with Virginia State Parks.

Headquarters

Abingdon Episcopal Church, 4645 George Washington Memorial Hwy., Hayes (White Marsh) 23072. Lunches, tours of the church, live organ music, tickets and local brochure with map will be available on tour day. Directions to Abingdon Episcopal Church: from the Coleman Bridge, follow George Washington Memorial Hwy. (Rt. 17) north for 6.8 mi. past Hayes to White Marsh. The church is on the east (right) side 1.1 mile after Brays Point Rd. and the Exxon station. From the north, follow Route 17 south past Gloucester Courthouse for 5 miles. Pass the White Marsh Shopping Center on your right and the church is .5 mile on the west (left) side. Ticket includes admission to the following 4 properties:

Abingdon Episcopal Church

Abingdon parish was established in 1650—43 years after the first British settlement at Jamestown. The current building was erected between 1751 and 1755 on land donated by George Washington’s grandfather. Built in the shape of a Latin cross, it is Virginia’s largest colonial church and the third largest in the colonies. Much of the interior is original. The reredos (Lord’s Prayer, Apostles’ Creed and Ten Commandment tablets), the top section of the high three-decker pulpit, the baptismal font, the stone floor in the north and south aisles, and major portions of the wainscot paneling are all of original construction. The two balcony galleries, used for wealthy plantation owners instead of the typical slave galleries, are the most complete example from the colonial period. It was in the northwest portion of one of these galleries that young Thomas Jefferson attended worship when visiting his friend John Page. During the Civil War, the church was occupied by federal troops who used the building as a stable and the wood and pews as firewood. The colonial silver donated in 1703, the pulpit, and some additional furnishings had been removed for safekeeping and are in use today. The church is known for its large collection of historic trees; a self-guided map is available for touring the grounds. Abingdon Episcopal Church was one of the stops on the first Gloucester Garden Week Tour in 1929—90 years ago.

Belvinhem Quay

Accessed via shuttle from Abingdon Elementary School, 7087 Powhatan Dr., Hayes 23072.

Belvinhem Quay was built in 1998 on Timberneck Creek with views of the early 1700s farmhouse on Timberneck Farm. The house is large and open and is bursting with an extensive art collection. Mrs. Belvin, an artist herself, has some of her own works displayed. The collection includes oils, watercolors, prints and sculpture, with a concentration on portraiture in every medium. A mostly glass wall in the living room bathes the art collection in natural light. Dr. Belvin, a family name tied to Gloucester history since the 1600s, designed the house, which is three floors over a basement. The usual public rooms and bedrooms are augmented by a game room, an art room for Mrs. Belvin’s drawing and painting, and a home theater. Mature trees around the property give the home a green and lovely ambience. Boating or just relaxing in hammocks are easily accessed on the pier. The beach sitting area lures the visitor to sit and contemplate water and sky and a private tennis court greets visitors at the property entrance. Belvinhem Quay is open for the first time. Leslie and Keith Belvin are the owners.

Little England Farm

8066 Little England Road, Hayes 23072.

Originally called Sarah’s Creek House, this property occupies a point between the York River and Sarah’s Creek and enjoys sweeping views of water on three sides. A prime military vantage point, which served as a lookout for ships during the Battle of Yorktown, as a hospital for wounded soldiers during the war of 1812 and as a garrison during the Civil War, Little England Farm lies almost directly across the York River from the site of Cornwallis’ surrender in Yorktown during the American Revolution. It occupies 58 acres of open landscape with meadows, white fences and grazing horses. The property, a 14-room Georgian brick home with a slate roof, is one of Virginia’s least altered and best preserved colonial plantation homes. The central portion was built by John Perrin in 1716 from a design by Sir Christopher Wren using Flemish bond brickwork. The flanking white clapboard extensions include the original frame house built prior to 1690, which currently serves as the kitchen, and a 1950s addition. In the 1716 section, the windows are a striking 7 feet tall under 13-foot ceilings, and the brass doorknobs and locks on the main doors are original. The current owners have decorated the old house with a mix of contemporary furniture and art resulting in a home full of surprises. Karen and Steve Barrs are the owners.

Sweetgrass

4523 Osprey Lane, Hayes 23072.

This property enjoys dramatic views of the northwest branch of the Severn River, overlooking pastoral Warner Hall built by George Washington’s great-great-grandfather on the earliest land grant in Virginia. Built in 2007, Sweetgrass is airy and open and would be right at home in South Carolina’s low country. Mrs. Howard, who hails from the Palmetto State, found house plans in Southern Living that she could fine tune to her liking creating a home suited to indoor and outdoor living. She brought that sensibility to the decorating of the house as well; the predominating colors are blue and grey throughout, giving a summery ambience of river, water and sand. The dining room holds only some of her many collections of porcelain. Of the myriad interesting artworks, a standout is the portrait of a southern lady over the antique chest in the foyer and the serene landscape over the mantelpiece. The name of the house is inspired by the handwoven baskets that are made exclusively in the coastal area of South Carolina, many of which are on display throughout the home. The copper gas lights out front are from Charleston. Dr. and Mrs. Vaughan Howard are the owners.

Lunches

$12 pre-ordered box lunches from Nuttall Country Store and VA Blue Crab will be available for pick-up at tour headquarters. The VA Blue Crab food truck will also be available at tour headquarters serving crab cakes, crab soup and other crab specialties from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The parish house will be open for lunchtime seating with the organist playing from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pre-order box lunches from Nuttall Store (804) 693-3067 or nuttallstore@gmail.com, and from VA Blue Crab (804) 694-7990, both by Friday, April 19. Gumbeau’s Catering will provide French-countryside themed soups, sandwiches, cheeses and salads from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Brent & Becky’s Bulbs, 7900 Daffodil Lane.

Parking

Available at Abingdon Episcopal Church, Little England and Sweetgrass. Belvinhem Quay is only accessible by shuttles. Shuttles will pick up and drop off at Abingdon Elementary School located at 7087 Powhatan Dr., Hayes.

Special events

Lemonade and cookies are complimentary and served from 2 to 4:30 p.m. at Belvinhem Quay. Take the shuttle from Abingdon Elementary School.

Art in the Garden will take place at Brent & Becky’s Bulbs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will showcase art and garden vendors as well as plein air painters in the garden. Brent & Becky’s Bulbs is located at 7900 Daffodil Lane, Gloucester 23072.

Master Gardeners Tours are available of Brent & Becky’s Bulb’s Chesapeake-Bay-friendly gardens from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. See address above.