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Garden Club of the Middle Peninsula
     “ESSEX COUNTY: THREE CENTURIES OF HOMES AND GARDENS”
Sponsored by The Garden Club of the Middle Peninsula
Friday, April 25, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Chairman:
Mrs. Benjamin B. Ellis (Frances)
 2725 Leveltown Road
 Champlain, VA 22438
 Telephone (804) 443-2025
Co-Chairman
Mrs. L. David Butler, Jr. (Betty Jo)
 748 Tidewater Trail
 Supply, VA 22436
 Telephone (804) 443-2042
e-mail: Butler@inna.net
Group Tour Chairman:
 Mrs. Arthur L. Singleton (Libby)
 P. O. 339
 Port Royal, VA 22535
 Telephone (804) 443-5837
BLOCK TICKET: $20, single site admission, $10. On the day of the tour, tickets and maps will be available at all locations. Flat walking shoes are advised. 
No interior photography.

ADVANCED TICKET SALES: By mail until April 17. Send stamped, self-addressed business size envelope and check made payable to GCMP to Group Tour Chairman listed above. No refunds.

DIRECTIONS TO Tour Area:
The tour is in northern and middle Essex County, along Rt. 17 and Rt. 360 which intersect in Tappahannock. Tappahannock is located 45 miles from Richmond (Rt. 360 E); 75 miles from Newport News (Rt. 17 N); 70 miles from Williamsburg (I-64 to Rt. 33 E to Rt. 17 N); 47 miles from Fredericksburg (Rt. 17 S).

LUNCHES: There are several restaurants in Tappahannock. A list of suggestions will be available at each house and may be requested in advance.

ST. PAUL’S CHURCH. From Tappahannock: on Rt. 360, 9.9 miles west of Tappahannock. From Richmond: on Rt. 360, 35 miles east of Richmond. In 1819 a small group of men in Tappahannock met to reorganize local Anglican congregations that had been scattered after the Revolution and to call a rector to South Farnham Parish. They secured the services of the Reverend John Rennolds from 1820-1825. The building of St. Paul’s began during the tenure of his successor, the Reverend John Peyton McGuire. The structure replaced two Colonial brick churches, Upper and Lower Piscataway, both of which were in service before 1709.

The architecture of the church reflected the Bishop’s emphasis on preaching and personal conversion rather than the sacraments and services of the church. St. Paul’s is one of two Virginia churches that still retain the center pulpit characteristic of the Anglican Evangelical Movement of the 19th century.

The tall Gothic-style windows of the brick building ensure a bright interior. In 1920 the walls were reinforced and two rectangular windows on the front of the building were replaced with a large stained glass window.

WOODLAWN-SANDY. From Tappahannock: Take Rt. 360 W for 8.5 miles. At Millers Tavern, turn right on Rt. 620. Proceed 1.9 miles to Woodlawn-Sandy. From St. Paul’s Church: Take Rt. 360 E, 1.9 miles to Millers Tavern. Left on Rt. 620 1.9 miles to Woodlawn-Sandy. The house, thought to have been built by members of the Wood family of Woodville, is a late-eighteenth century sister house of neighboring Cherry Walk. 

Characteristic of Elizabethan tythe-barn construction, it is a frame, three-bay with dormered gambrel roof and a large chimney at each eave end over a high English basement. 

It was acquired by Captain P. A. Sandy in 1859 and passed through his granddaughter to Carl Lauther, Jr., from whom the current owners purchased it in 1990.

Known locally as “The Circus House”, it was the headquarters of a traveling circus with sideshow in the 1940s. Today, a resident ghost playfully tunes the CD or radio to country music and turns the water on and off.

The owners have extensive collections of porcelain, stoneware, baskets, Toby jugs, glass and furniture. Of particular interest are the 18th and 19th century hyacinth vases.

The period plantings and the charming kitchen dependency are sheltered by an enormous weeping willow. Mrs. Johnston, who is English, specializes in growing herbs.

Open for the first time to Historic Garden Week visitors. Joe and Julie Johnston, owners.

CHERRY WALK c.1780. From Woodlawn-Sandy, turn left on Rt. 620 for 0.5 miles to Cherry Walk. After touring house return to Rt. 360 and proceed to Tappahannock to continue tour. Built on a colonial site by Carter Croxton, of Revolutionary War fame, the house remained in the family and was home to Alexander Woodford Broaddus, a county notable, who left it to his youngest daughter, Woodley, later Mrs. A. S. Acree. 

She guarded the property zealously for almost 100 years until her death in the mid 1970s. It was bought by the Rowlands in 1982.

The house is a four-bay brick dwelling with dormered steep gambrel roof. Of particular note are the five supporting outbuildings: two dairies, a smokehouse, a summer kitchen, and a privy. A much-enlarged early barn, a plank corncrib, and a late 19th century blacksmith’s shop have also been restored.

Beverley Wellford Rowland, who has strong ties to this area dating to the 17th century, designed and planted the gardens after extensive research. Her plan included a formal herb garden, Mr. Rowland’s vegetable garden which mirrors the design of the herb garden, a fruit plot, and a swimming pool with surrounding perennial borders filled with native and drought tolerant plants. The gardens reinforce the historic integrity and rural simplicity of the house and outbuildings and attest to the owners’ continuing hands-on involvement with the project.

The entire site, including 97 acres, house, and all outbuildings, is listed on the Virginia Register and the National Register of Historic Places and is protected in perpetuity by an historic and open space easement donated by the Rowlands to the State of Virginia.

Open for the first time to Historic Garden Week visitors. Mr. and Mrs. Walter Speed Rowland, owners.

BLANDFIELD. From Tappahannock, intersection of Queen St. (Rt. 360) and Rt. 17, take Rt. 17 north 7 miles to Beverley Road. Turn right to house. Blandfield was built on a 3,500-acre plantation on the Rappahannock River between 1769 and 1773 by Robert Beverley II and remained in that family until 1983 when Mr. and Mrs. James C. Wheat Jr. purchased the house and land. They began extensive and meticulous restoration under the counsel and direction of the staff of Colonial Williamsburg. Although there is no architect who has been linked to the building of this Palladian house, it is known that the plan was adapted from specific plates in the influential 1728 Book of Architecture by English architect James Gibbs. Drum House in Scotland also has been considered to be a prototype for Blandfield. Described in the Virginia Landmarks Register as belonging to the important group of mid-Georgian Tidewater mansions characterized by the five-part plan that links flanking dependencies to the main house by hyphens or one-story corridors, Blandfield was one of the largest houses in Virginia at the time it was built.

Today, brilliant color, striking wallpaper design, and elaborate millwork give the massive formal interior a vastly different appearance from that the Wheats first encountered when they bought the property. During the 1840s the interior paneling and molding had been replaced with plain Greek Revival trim, and the two stairways had been modified in the 19th century style. Restoration and furnishing is largely complete based on historical research, the Beverley family papers, and scientific investigation. Of particular interest is the yellow floral wallpaper in the south parlor, which was hung using 18th century techniques. The documentary paper was made by pasting together 18-by-24-inch squares to create rolls of paper. The paper was then painted with the background color and shipped to London where it was printed with 200-year-old wood blocks. In the study is a collection of prints by Mark Catesby, an 18th century ornithologist. The river, one and one-half miles away, is visible from the east side of the house. Blandfield is listed in the Virginia Historic Landmark Register and the National Register of Historic Places. Mrs. James C. Wheat Jr., owner.

THE OLD HOUSE AT KENDALE FARM. From Tappahannock, take Rt. 17 N for 13.2 miles to Rt. 637. Turn right, go 1.1 miles to Rt. 661 (Kendall’s Road). Turn right and go 1.9 miles to house. From Fredericksburg, On Rt. 17 S, go 13.7 miles south of Port Royal (intersection of Rt. 17 and Rt. 301) and turn left on Rt. 637. Follow directions as above. John Hill Carter Beverley, of the “Blandfield” Beverleys, was given this land by his family upon his marriage in 1880. There was an existing 1830’s outbuilding here that had a fireplace upstairs and down, and it is thought Beverley expanded this house for his bride. His great grandson and his wife, the current owners, recently enlarged the Tidewater farmhouse to take advantage of the view of surrounding farmland and the Rappahannock River.

When Kendale Farm was divided several years ago, the owners chose this site because of their interest in landscaping, having always wanted to be able to garden on a large scale. They engaged the acclaimed landscape architectural firm Oehme, van Sweden and Associates, Inc. to design for them in the “New American Garden Style” Here, clusters of grasses and sweeps of colorful flowers and shrubbery change the scene several times within the seasons. Planting is environmentally suited for the region with the expectation that little maintenance will be needed. The owners say they are still in the learning stage with a developing wildflower meadow, located just beyond the kitchen garden. Open for the first time to Historic Garden Week visitors. Mr. and Mrs. W. Harrison Wellford, owners.

WHEATLAND. From Tappahannock, on Rt. 17 N go 15.2 miles to Rt. 638. Turn right and proceed to end of road (about 1 mile). From Fredericksburg, on Rt. 17 S, continue 11.7 miles south of Port Royal (intersection of Rt. 17 and Rt. 301) and turn left on Rt. 638. John Saunders, merchant and planter, constructed this Greek Revival plantation house in the mid-19th century on a bluff overlooking a bend in the Rappahannock River. During his ownership and that of his son, the plantation’s steamboat wharf was a locus of river transportation and commerce for upper Essex, carrying both freight and passengers between Baltimore, Fredericksburg, Norfolk, and points in between. It is one of the very few surviving steamboat wharves in the Chesapeake watershed.

The farm, settled by members of the Hawkins family prior to 1801, was first called “Society Hill”. Subsequent owners were Mordecai Spindle and William Gray. The new house, the main portion, is a two-story five-bay frame residence with a raised brick basement and a hipped roof. The building is perfectly symmetrical, with two identical front elevations, one facing the river and the other, the road and has a double-pile central hall plan. The kitchen wing was added in the late 19th century. A boxwood-lined walk leads to the river and a graceful flower garden on the south side leads to a gazebo.

The current owners, descendents of John Saunders, have returned to the house many pieces of original furniture, portraits, and family treasures. Wheatland is listed in the Virginia Landmark Register and the National Register of Historic Places. Open for the first time to Historic Garden Week visitors. Mr. and Mrs. Peter Charles Bance and Mr. and Mrs. Edgar John Dickinson Bance, owners.

Photos: Courtesy Garden Club of Middle Peninsula; Woodlawn-Sandy, Cherry Walk,Cherry Walk (2); Blandfield, Blandfield (2), Kendale Farm, Wheatland, Wheatland-Sounders Wharf

 

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