Autumn Pilgrimage and House Tour open doors to exclusive James River homes

The annual Autumn Pilgrimage and House Tour event, sponsored by Westover Episcopal Church, led Jim Daniels to start attending church regularly again.

Daniels became a member of Westover Episcopal Church about 15 years ago after he attended the Autumn Pilgrimage and House Tour as a student at the College of William and Mary. He later became chairman of the tours for two years and showed two of his own Charles City homes on the tour about a decade ago.

“I needed to start taking my kids (to church) and I have a house in Charles City on the weekends. The house tour was really the emphasis to get me to go back to church,” said Daniels, who is now the tour spokesman and lives in Chesterfield during the week.

Daniels is excited to see his church, which was built in 1730 and became a part of the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, showcased as one of seven stops during the tours this weekend. Proceeds will benefit Westover Episcopal Church and support its community outreach programs, such as Meals on Wheels.

This year’s tour includes Shirley Plantation, Berkeley Plantation, Sherwood Forest Plantation, Pinecreast, River Ridge, Westover Plantation and Westover Episcopal Church. All the home owners showing their properties are members of Westover Episcopal Church.

“We have a mixture of historic houses and other private homes that are never open,” Daniels said. “They’re all interesting houses on the river, and the two private homes are nice estate houses with extensive renovations.”

Shirley Plantation and Berkeley Plantation are the only two stops that are open for tours full time. The other properties will be open exclusively to ticket holders. Visitors will also be able to view the house on Westover Plantation, which opens its gardens daily, but not the house, Daniels said.

Sherwood Forest Plantation is also regularly open for guided tours by group for $35 per adult, $25 for school-age children and self-guided tours are $10. Daniels said the Autumn Pilgrimage and House Tours are a way for the community and visitors to see beautiful, historic properties for a low price. Saturday’s ticket for all seven properties is $35.

“Shirley hasn’t been on our tour for a while, so it is a special thing for us to have the four big plantations on at one time,” Daniels said. “It’s the first time we’ve done that.”

The houses are close in proximity, although they are not walkable, according to Daniels. He recommends ticket holders visit by car or along the bike trail.

Other activities include a Stirrup Cup with the Princess Anne Hunt Club at 9 a.m., followed by the Presentation of the Hounds at 9:30 a.m.

To purchase tickets or for more information, call the church at 804-512-9094 or 757-561-6430.

Want to go?

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Shirley Plantation, Berkeley Plantation, Sherwood Forest Plantation, Pinecreast, River Ridge, Westover Plantation and Westover Episcopal Church.

Cost: Tickets are $35.

More info: westoverepiscopalchurch.org.

Joseph can be reached by phone at 757-374-3134.

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