April, Chaucer told us, is the time for pilgrimages. If Canterbury isn't on your spring itinerary, start a little closer to home with the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage, an annual series of tours now in its 54th season.
Owners of magnificent estates, antique town houses, contemporary residences and rustic barns -- not to mention a variety of blooming gardens -- have opened their homes to the public for the tours, which run from Saturday, April 13, to Sunday, May 5, and take in nine areas of the state.
A $15 ticket provides admission to all of the houses on a single day's tour. Individual houses can be toured for $5. (There is no discount for children.) Gift certificates are also available.
Tickets may be purchased in advance from Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage headquarters, 1105A Providence Road, or on the day of the tour at any of the featured houses.
No transportation will be provided, but directions are given in the tour book, and the routes are marked with Pilgrimage arrows.
The Pilgrimage committee requests that no interior photographs taken, and that visitors do not smoke, eat or drink in any of the houses. No pets will be allowed. Visitors are also advised to wear flat-heeled shoes to preserve the old wood floors.
Proceeds of the tours benefit historic preservation projects. Recent beneficiaries include the Paca House in Annapolis, Ladew Topiary Gardens in Baltimore County and Christ Church in St. Michaels.
The schedule is as follows:
Saturday, April 13: Bolton Hill, Baltimore City
Saturday, April 20: Anne Arundel County
Sunday April 21: St. Mary's County
Friday, April 26: Woodbrook, suburban Baltimore County
Saturday, April 27: Dorchester County
Sunday April 28: Kent County
Friday, May 3: Carroll County
Saturday, May 4: Somerset County
Sunday, May 5: Howard County
The houses and gardens will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., rain or shine.
For additional information, call the Pilgrimage headquarters at 821-6933 weekdays between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m..