Bruton Parish Episcopal Church.
Trip Start Jun 07, 2008
2Trip End Jun 07, 2008
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In colonial times, church and state were united in Virginia. All office holders were obliged by law to attend church regularly. Yet, Virginia Anglicans (Episcopalians) led in the disestablishment of the church.
Bruton Parish and Williamsburg settled into a gradual decline following the revolution. In 1840, the colonial plan of the interior was reversed so one faced west toward the altar.
Bruton's age old cruciform plan was not usual in Virginia colonial churches. It arose here less from religious symbolism than from a desire to accommodate college and government personnel during special times. The church is symmetrical; chancel and the nave are equal. The use of arched doors and both round and arched windows is typical of the period. The church tower, topped by a beige wooden steeple, was added in 1769; during the Revolution its bell served as the local "liberty bell", rung to summon people for announcements. And the spire is unusual-a distinction reserved for the colony's capital. The white pews, tall and boxed in, are characteristic of the stark graceful Colonial Ecclesiastical Architecture of the region. The stone baptismal font is believed to have come from an older Jamestown church.
During its restoration in 1995-1997, forty-two graves were identified within the church and its graveyard. The more prominent graves are marked by stones in the floor of the church, and many more eighteenth century gravestones may be found in the church yard. Since all the early stones were imported from England, many of the graves which entirely fill the grounds are unmarked.
Today Bruton Parish has the largest congragation in its history. It's twenty-four hundred members, college students and Williamsburg's visitors usually fill the church's 500 seats for the various services held on Sundays and Holy Days.