Bruton Parish Church

Church organ

The Bruton Parish Church is still used today. This may not seem like much of a feat but consider that the church has been in operation since the 1600s.  Several parishes were merged to form Bruton which was named after the Ludwell family and Governor Sir William Berkeley whose homes were in Bruton - Somerset, England.
Outside Church with small graveyard

placard on church door

steeple through the trees

Reverend Roland Jones was the named the first rector. In 1677, the vestry agreed to build a new church to serve the three parishes.  The land was donated by Colonel John Page.  Many parishioners donated money to build the church. The building was dedicated in 1694 when the current Governor Sir Edmund Andros gave a sliver server.

pew marker for George Washington

pew marker for Thomas Jefferson

balcony for additional parishioners

As the town of Williamsburg grew and the College of William and Mary was built, the church was no longer big enough to accommodate the growing number of colonists. In 1706, a new church was agreed upon which could accommodate not just the extra people, but could have special pews for governor, the legislature, and the burgesses.  The new church was built in 1715 and became the center of activity for the government and the town. The steeple holds the Tarpley Bell (which is their Liberty Bell) and the organ was added in 1756.
bell tower from inside

Governor's chair for services

Many of the Founding Fathers and House of Burgesses attended the Bruton Parish Church. Pews where they sat are labeled with name plates.  George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Patrick Henry all attended mass there when the legislature was in session. The church was often used to make formal announcements to the entire community, knowing they would be in attendance.
plaque for Confederate soldiers who died here


plaque for the House of Burgesses

During the war, funding dwindled and the church no longer was a center of social activity.  When the capital of Virginia moved to Richmond, most the Bruton's members followed.


Soon the church fell into disrepair.During the Civil War, the church was used as a hospital for wounded Confederate soldiers. The Catherine Memorial Society began to raise funds to repair the church and grounds. At the turn of the 1900s, the church finally started to look like it did during its heyday.  Donations from around the world came in to repair it. Even King Edward VII donated a Holy Bible to be used. When John D. Rockefeller came to visit Williamsburg in the 1920s, the current pastor convinced him to make Bruton part of the restoration.

Today, visitors can not only attend services at the church, but tourists can go and see where George Washington and Thomas Jefferson sat while Viriginia's House of Burgesses was in session.

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