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by Travel'in Gal
December 31, 2008
From journal Weekend in Williamsburg, VA
Los Gatos, California
July 17, 2005
Bruton Parish Church was part of that restoration, and in 1939-1940, a complete renovation and authentic replica of the old church gave us today's magnificent building. At the same time, a new parish house and a new rectory increased Bruton's properties. Over the years, the parish house has grown larger and includes a chapel. The rectory is now used for parish functions and as housing for the Bruton-Rockefeller Scholar in Residence program.
The church of Bruton Parish that one may visit now in Williamsburg was built around 1715 to replace the second Bruton Parish Church (also called the "first brick church"), which had been completed in 1683. The foundations of the first brick church were discovered and briefly unearthed beneath the present churchyard in 1938. Parish work was begun in 1632, the first brick church was built in 1683, and the present church in 1715.
The church was beautifully restored to her former glory in 1905, and one may see upon its ancient walls today some most interesting bronze tablets to the memory of noted colonists. The Royal Governor's pew with chair and canopy, the high pulpit and sounding board, the clerk's desk and old gallery where the college students sat (locked in) during the service, beautiful stained-glass windows and lovely aisles paved with marble (below which are tombs), and dignified high-backed pews, all adorn this hallowed sanctuary.
The church also possesses many valued treasures, among them three sets of Communion Silver (including one of the original old Jamestown services), the Jamestown Baptismal Font, the Parish Register of 1662, the Old Colonial Prayer Book, and the King Edward Bible and Lectern presented by President Theodore Roosevelt. The original wall, built in 1752, still encloses the lovely old churchyard, in which one may stroll and read many quaint inscriptions upon the ancient graves.
From journal Early American Time Travel
by Amber Autumn
July 9, 2005
The Bruton Parish Church was formed in 1674. A large tower was what we could see as we walked past the street to go to the George Wythe House. In the front of the church were people walking in and out of the small doors. A cemetery was in back of this church, which I wished I would have walked into. Legend says that there is a tomb with a secret vault inside. The church is from when church and state were one in the same.
From journal Visiting Colonial Williamsburg
New York, New York
June 11, 2004
After the Revolution, the city of Williamsburg, as well as BPC, fell into gradual stages of decline and disrepair. It wasn’t until 1907 that the city saw its first renovation under the supervision of Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin, the church rector. He completed a partial restoration of his beloved parish and would later inspire John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to take on the project of restoring the entire city.
BPC is laid out in a "cruciform" plan. While this may seem like a unique architectural detail today, it was rather common in Virginia’s colonial churches. What IS a unique feature is the church spire – a decoration usually reserved for colony capitol buildings. Inside, visitors first come upon the baptismal basin brought from the Jamestown Tower Church around 1758. It is still used regularly today. Looming overhead is the beautiful 18th century style wooden pulpit from which services were conducted. Just across from it lies the best seat in the house. The Governor’s Pew, with its cushioned and canopied chair, was reserved for Royal British Governors and Council members. The heavy curtain was for warmth and privacy. Yeah. Heaven forbid the "little people" should look upon the governor!
In sharp contrast, the rest of the attendees sat in hard wooden high box pews with doors. These were designed as such to preserve what little warmth there was to be had in the high, drafty and unheated church. Pews dedicated to fine patriots, parish leaders and presidents such as Washington and Jefferson are adorned with plaques on the doors.
There are quite a number of beautiful artifacts and historic items of interest in the church. Among them, the Jamestown communion silver from 1661, an ornate bronze lectern given by Teddy Roosevelt and on it a Bible presented by King Edward VII. Each piece has its own distinctive story and significance making a tour of this church quite necessary. I would definitely recommend the "Living By Faith" walking tour. It gives the best insight into the original concept of separation of church and state (very different from what people squawk about today) as well as BPC itself.
From journal Huzzah For Colonial Williamsburg!
Fairview Park, Ohio
May 12, 2003
Bruton Parish was established in 1674. In Colonial times, church and state were united in Virginia. All officeholders were obliged by law to attend church regularly. In 1840 the colonial plan of the church interior was reversed so one faced west towards the alter. The churches present authentic appearance was achieved in 1937-38 through the leadership of Dr. Goodwin and John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Today it has a congregation is 1400, the largest in its history. The church has 500 seats, which are usually filled each Sunday. Church school and other activities are held in the Parish house one block west of the church.
The high box pews with doors were designed for warmth in the unheated church. There are pews dedicated to Washington, Jefferson and Monroe.
The Baptismal Font used today was brought from the Jamestown Church about 1758.
There many people buried in the floor of the church. Some names and dates are nearly worn away. In the graveyard 42 graves were identified during restoration in 1905-07. Since nearly all the early stones were imported from England, many of the graves are unmarked. The graveyard is completely full though it does not appear to be. In one corner is a columnburium where ashes are buried today.
Sunday we attended as worshippers. Later in the week we toured the church as tourists.
From journal Williamsburg - A Mother/Daughter Get Away