Gloucester/Mathews House and Garden Tour
April 17 @ 9:30 am - 5:30 pm$40
Peaceful, historic, coastal!! Gloucester and Mathews Counties date back to 1651 and boast historic downtowns that offer walking tours, shopping, dining, art galleries and charming B&Bs. Reflecting the maritime heritage of this Chesapeake Bay community, all of the homes and gardens on tour are situated on the pristine waters of the lower Chesapeake Bay. Tour four historic homes and historic Ware Church. Included are an elegant home considered “the jewel of Tidewater”, a humble 18th century icehouse turned riverfront home, a stately Federal home along Main St., and a craftsman-style home built by a sea captain. Spend the day or the weekend for a taste of authentic coastal living.
Saturday, April 17, 2021 Historic Garden Week
2 tour sessions:
9:30 AM to 1:30 PM or 1:30 PM to 5:30 PM
The Garden Club of Gloucester
Lynne Bohon Manning (919) 880-2329
Pam Driggs (804) 815-4418
Tickets: $40 pp. Due to COVID, the tour will be split into morning and afternoon tours. Ticketholders will have four hours to complete the entire tour of four homes – either 9:30 to 1:30 or 1:30 to 5:30. Tickets will be capped at 160 tickets for the morning tour and 160 tickets for the afternoon tour. Tickets will not be available at headquarters or at the homes and are only available in advance at www.vagardenweek.org.
Tour Headquarters: Ware Episcopal Church, 7825 John Clayton Memorial Hwy, Gloucester, VA 23061. Maps available on tour day.
Lunch: Pre-order $15 box lunches from Nuttall Country Store by calling (804) 693-3067 or emailing email@example.com by Thursday, April 15, 4 PM. Lunches will be available for pick-up at either Nuttall Country Store (all day) or at Ware Episcopal Church from 12:30 to 1:30 PM day of tour. A covered open-air structure at Ware Church is available for seating with picnic tables.
Facilities: Available at all homes and Ware Episcopal Church headquarters.
Parking: Free parking available at headquarters and on-site at all four homes: Toddsbury, Cherokee, Weston Hall, and Palace Green.
- Gloucester Extension Master Gardeners will be available for guided tours of Brent & Becky’s Bulbs Chesapeake Bay-friendly gardens from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Brent & Becky’s Bulbs is located at 7900 Daffodil Lane, Gloucester, VA 23061.
- Arts on Main, 6580 Main St., Gloucester will be having a special exhibit, Bird’s Eye Point of View by ceramicist Dianne Hottenstein from 12 noon to 5 PM.
- Bay School Community Arts Center, 279 Main St., Mathews will be having a Contemporary Folk Art exhibition featuring regional artists from 10 AM to 4 PM.
- Archeological excavation and demonstration on the grounds of Palace Green performed by Dr. David A. Brown and Thane H. Harpole of the Fairfield Foundation.
- Bartlett Tree Experts seedling table at Cherokee. Free tree seedlings to 160 visitors between 12 noon and 3 PM.
- Archeological display on the east lawn of Toddsbury prepared by the Fairfield Foundation.
- Nationally known local plein-air artist, Dorothy Fagan, painting on-site at Weston Hall.
Ticket includes admission to the following 5 properties:
Ware Episcopal Church: headquarters
7825 John Clayton Memorial Hwy., Gloucester
Ware Parish Church is a historic Episcopal church located in Gloucester County, Virginia. Founded in 1652, it is one of the oldest surviving parish churches in the Commonwealth. Why the name Ware Parish? There’s no clear answer other than that the Ware River is nearby. The parish was formed after the execution of Charles I in England and before Charles II was crowned king. During this period the offices of the Bishop of London and The Book of Common Prayer were abolished. Yet the colony in Virginia remained loyal to the monarchy. In the parish’s earliest days, they worshiped on Ware Neck near Glen Roy Plantation. Tradition and research by the Rev’d William Byrd Lee, 12th rector of Ware, indicated that the church was completed circa 1690.
Directions to Ware Episcopal Church: from George Washington Memorial Hwy. (Rt. 17) North or South, follow signs at Gloucester Courthouse to John Clayton Memorial Hwy. (Rt. 14E). In 1.0 mile you will see the church parking lot on the right. Due to rural driving conditions, GPS and Google Maps may or may not work. Maps are available at HQ on the day of tour and at vagardenweek.org.
7887 Berkshire Lane, Gloucester
Cherokee started life as a typical 18th century icehouse; a circular two-story tower with brick walls 8” thick. Dirt was piled around them to about halfway up to provide insulation for the ice kept inside. In 1922, William Fleet Taliaferro and his wife Elizabeth converted the icehouse into a lovely retirement dwelling. They added a front door on the river side, grand windows, and an addition to include bathroom, kitchen and dining room. The “round room” on the first floor became their living room, and the house was named Cherokee for the roses that grew there.
Cherokee is a gracious home with magnificent views of the North River. The circular first floor room is the dining room, with a perfectly round table in the center. An earlier expansion of the house created an intimate interior courtyard garden which has since become a light-filled space for Mrs. Merrill’s art studio. Visitors will enjoy seeing her vibrant floral paintings, as well as collections of art, hand-blown glass bottles, decoys, and steins. Other notable features include a grandfather clock from the 1700’s and a vintage slot machine. With its history as a humble icehouse, Cherokee is a singular experience.
8777 Toddsbury Lane, Gloucester
Toddsbury is an ancient 17th-century family home, acknowledged as the “Mother House” of the North River. Of the original land grant, made to English sea captain Thomas Todd in 1652, one-hundred acres remain. Built of brick, facing the river, the original house dates from 1658. Additions in 1690, 1720, 1782 and 1948 complete the L-shaped gambrel-roofed structure seen today. An outstanding and substantial example of an early Tidewater domestic structure, Toddsbury is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Virginia Historic Landmark. The interiors boast extremely fine early 18th-century paneling, unique carved “keystones” over the windows, and brick linenfold jack arches above the earliest entrances. The garden wall dates from the 1690’s and contains an acre square.
The nearly mile-long riverfront with its enormous willow oaks overlooks the longest southern exposure on the North River. The half-mile tree-lined approach to the house leads to the orchard, walled garden, carriage house, guest house, horse paddocks, barn and wharf. Archaeology on the east lawn, and specimens of rare “Gloucester Hickory” exchanged with Jefferson for planting at Monticello, enhance the grounds. The visitor is richly rewarded in touring this finely preserved home, known as “The Jewel of Tidewater”. Toddsbury was last open in 1988.
596 Main Street, Mathews
Palace Green sits well back from Main Street in Mathews behind a sweeping lawn dappled by the shade of mature trees. The exact age of this stately home is unclear but the lunette window high under the roof peak matches several others elsewhere in Mathews which can be reliably dated c. 1835. The current owners are part of the Cooke family which entered the long history of the house around 1918 when Giles Buckner Cooke purchased the home. He had been a Confederate Army officer, educator and Episcopal minister. By 1920, he was the last living member of Robert E. Lee’s wartime staff. His son, John Warren Cooke, was born in 1915 and grew up to be a politician and newspaper publisher. John Warren Cooke’s daughter and her husband are the current owners and third generation of the Cooke family to live here. In the room to the left of the entry hall visitors can see Giles Cooke’s writing desk as well as a fine portrait of John Warren Cooke by portrait artist David Silvette dating from Cooke’s years as the Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates. Palace Green has an extensive collection of family antiques and a captivating art collection. The charming waterfront guest cottage will also be open. Palace Green was last open in 1992.
465 Weston Hall Road, Port Haywood
Weston Hall enjoys magnificent views of the East River and beyond to the Mobjack Bay. Massive trees grace the sweeping lawn. There is a view across Mill Creek to nearby Poplar Grove and its original tide mill, the last one remaining in the Mobjack area. Weston Hall was built by Capt. Clarence Kirwan between 1900-1919. Legend has it that no construction was allowed to take place while the captain was at sea. Pine timber from the property was used for floors and doors. The sturdy-looking Arts and Crafts-style exterior belies the light and airy feeling of the rooms within. Built to resemble the layout of a ship, the wide entry hall is fifty feet long and sweeps from the land side entrance to the water side. Large light-filled rooms with high ceilings provide an open and sunny ambiance which serve as a backdrop for the art collection and the artfully chosen decor. The homeowner is a painter and her artist’s touch is apparent throughout the home and garden. The recently renovated guest house will also be open for tour. Weston Hall was last open in 2002.