Saturday, November 19, 2016

inSPIREd Sunday

October 2016 - Williamsburg VA

Bruton Parish Church

First Anglican church built in 1660
First rector Reverend Rowland Jones
Many patriots belonged to Bruton Parish
Used as hospital during two wars
Rev. W.A. R. Goodwin led 20th-century restoration
Church still owned by and serves its three-centuries-old parish
Parish history dates to Middle Plantation in 1660

Named for Bruton, Somersetshire, England

Among the men of the Revolution who attended Bruton Parish Church were Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Richard Henry Lee, George Wythe, Patrick Henry, and George Mason. But the building's history, and that of its churchyard, goes back further in time.

Governor Spotswood was provided with a canopied chair on a platform inside the rail opposite the raised pulpit with its overhanging sounding board. Parishioners sat in boxed pews, their walls providing privacy and protection from drafts. In the early years the sexes sat apart.

Dating from 1715, the present structure is the third in a series of Anglican houses of worship that began in 1660. The first, which may or may not have been at or near the 18th-century site, was built, probably of wood, in the Old Fields at Middle Plantation, Williamsburg's name until the 66-year-old community was incorporated in 1699.

In 1677, the vestry ordered that a church be built of brick on land donated by John Page November 14 of that year. Page also donated £200. The contract was let in June 1681 and the building, which stood a few steps northwest of the 1715 church, was complete by November 29, 1683.

On November 21, 1710, the vestry declared its condition ruinous and proposed construction of a third church. The vestry submitted a plan for one large enough to meet only the needs of parish residents and invited the colony's government to finance an enlargement to accommodate its officers and others who came to the capital when the General Assembly sat.

The house approved a £200 grant December 5, 1710, to be financed from the taxes on liquor and slaves.

The Reverend James Blair, president of the College of William and Mary and Virginia's highest-ranking clergyman, approved construction on March 1, 1711. The same day, Governor Alexander Spotswood provided an architectural drawing of a cruciform design 75 feet long and 28 feet wide "in the clear," with two wings 22 feet wide and 19 feet long. Spotswood offered to underwrite 22 feet of the length and provide some or all of the bricks if the vestry would finance 53 feet and the assembly paid for the wings. His proposition was accepted. The contract was let to carpenter James Morris on November 17, 1711, the wings to be raised by John Tyler, builder of the Magazine.

Work began in 1712 with an October 15, 1714, deadline. The December 2, 1715, entry in the vestry book says, "at length new Church is finished, or nearly so." The second church was demolished the same year.

Outside to the graveyard.

Daughter of John Tyler, 10th president of the United States is buried here.


  1. What a delightful church, I like the box pews.

  2. Very nice historic church and ex president buried there as well. Great one to visit

  3. It's really an historical building. Very interesting.

  4. oh, oh, oh ... love that history. awesome times!! so so cool! ( ;

  5. What a great church. I've been to Williamsburg, but I was never in Bruton Parish Church. I'll need to remedy that next time I head south.