The history of Christ Church in Middlesex County dates back to at least the 1660s and is connected to many prominent families of the colonial Virginia gentry. The current structure, though greatly modified from the building constructed in 1714 on its site, still maintains an aura of its colonial antecedents. After the decline of the Episcopalian Church in general following the American Revolution, Christ Church was revived and restored in the 1840s, and extensive additional work took place in the 1920s and particularly the 1930s.
By the 1940s, with this architectural work completed, the congregation looked to the refurbishment of the grounds surrounding the historic structure. Its senior warden and vestry proposed a restoration plan to The Garden Club of Virginia, which its members found worthy of support. Beginning modestly, the rector sketched a 196-foot wall across the front of the church, replacing a wire fence and to be built by a local contractor with bricks from a Tappahannock brickyard. The Restoration Committee, in turn, voted in the fall of 1941 to support the construction of brick walls on three sides of the church and churchyard, with the front wall first proposed to consist of a carved brick finish. The resulting enclosures erected on the north and west sides of the property blended Flemish and English bond and utilized bricks fired at a kiln in Urbanna. Additional restoration of monuments and tombstones in the church cemetery was undertaken in 1967 by descendants of persons buried there.
Property in receipt of a one-time gift from, but never under contract with, The Garden Club of Virginia.
Note: The images presented here record various stages of the property's landscape restoration. Since additional work has been supported by The Garden Club of Virginia at many properties, these images do not necessarily represent the current-day experience. Also, accession numbers reflect the year in which an image was received by the Virginia Historical Society, not the year in which it was taken.
(Click on image to see larger version)
Main entrance to Christ Church with brick gateway and walk.
Photographic print, Christ Church, Va. Museum Collection Accession number: 1997.31.9.A
Lush foliage of the surrounding forest enhances the stately structure.
Photographic print, Christ Church, Va. Museum Collection Accession number: 1997.31.9.B
View of the church and grounds from the southwest.
Photographic print, Christ Church, Va. Museum Collection Accession number: 1997.31.9.D
Northwest corner of the connected brick walls.
Photographic print, Christ Church, Va. Museum Collection Accession number: 1997.31.9.F
View of the church and grounds from the northwest gives a sense of the natural beauty of this site.
Photographic print, Christ Church, Va. Museum Collection Accession number: 1997.31.9.G
Sketched plan of the western brick wall drawn by the Christ Church rector, 1941.