Byline: Mary Maraghy, County Line staff writer
Horse and carriage rides, a 19th century fashion show and a presentation of the Maple Leaf steamship are among the features at this year's public tour of Clay County's oldest Episcopal Church.
It's the 17th annual Historical Tour and Tea at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church. Tours begin at 1 p.m. Sunday.
"It is going to be more upbeat, representing the good life," said Karla Harrell, co-chairwoman of the event.
As many as 800 people are expected, said the Rev. Ken Hartsog, St. Margaret's pastor.
"This year we will have a lot more vignettes, more things going on, more art displays," he said. "It's going to be really very good. I'm expecting 600 to 800 people and that's a lot for a little church."
The tour and tea centers on the little church built in 1878, known for its Gothic architecture and ornate stained glass windows. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is featured in Eugenia Price's novel, Margaret's Story.
The novel is about Margaret Seton Fleming, who was considered the church founder. She died in 1878 and her funeral was the first service in the church.
Margaret's Story is no longer in print. However, a copy of it and another book, Hibernia: The Unreturning Tide by Margaret Seton Fleming Biddle, will be raffled off at this year's event. Biddle, now deceased, was a descendant of Seton Fleming.
At the tour, church members in period dress will lead hourlong guided walking tours of the church, which seats about 25 people shoulder to shoulder, and the surrounding grounds covered by a canopy of magnolia trees.
There will be two harpists, Civil War re-enactments, unique wooden Indian carvings and croquet demonstrations for children. A local historian will have a booth set up to discuss the Maple Leaf, a Civil War steamship that sunk in the St. Johns River off Mandarin in 1864. And Fred Schert will tell what medicine was like in Civil War times.
After the tour, tea will be served along with crustless cucumber and watercress sandwiches. Church members will also be selling photographs, postcards and stationery featuring St. …