Ware Parish Church

Ware Parish Church, John Clayton Memorial Highway, Gloucester Courthouse, Virginia

Ware Parish Church, John Clayton Memorial Highway, Gloucester Courthouse, Virginia

– Click on the image to enlarge or purchase –

Ware Parish Church

Ware Parish Church is in Gloucester County in the lower part of the Middle Peninsula of Virginia. The county was formed from York County in 1651. There were four parishes of the Anglican Church in the county: Abingdon, Kingston, Petsworth and Ware. These four parishes were formed between 1655 and 1656. Of these, Abingdon and Ware still contain their colonial churches. The early records of Ware Parish have been lost. A 1680 petition was put before the Colonial Court and Council for permission to build a second church in Ware Parish. Although, the date of construction is unknown, it is believed that it must have been built by 1690 although some historians put the date of completion sometime between 1710 and 1715. This is the building we know today as Ware Parish Church.

The first brick churches such as St Luke’s in nearby Isle of Wight County were gothic in style.  Ware Parish Church is considered to be of true colonial design.  The brick church measures eighty by forty feet, with three-foot thick walls. It is surrounded by the original colonial brick wall. Within the wall also lies the older part of the cemetery, although as can be seen from the picture above, the cemetery has spread beyond the wall. Surrounded by woods, which make photography quite a challenge, the original cemetery occupies over half an acre of land.

Ware Parish Church, John Clayton Memorial Highway, Gloucester Courthouse, Virginia

Ware Parish Church, John Clayton Memorial Highway, Gloucester Courthouse, Virginia

– Click on the image to enlarge or purchase –

Ware Parish Church is outstanding in several respects. It occupied the largest piece of land of any colonial church. It was the most expensive church of this period to be built. Unusual for a rectangular colonial church, Ware Parish Church had three doorways, all of which retain the fine brickwork surrounds of the original design.

Like most of the original colonial churches, Ware Parish Church became inactive after the separation of church and state under Disestablishment when the First Amendment was ratified in 1791. The building was abandoned. The church was repaired in 1827 after which the Methodists used the the building for worship. Further renovation occurred in 1854. Extensive repairs were needed after Federal Troops camped at the church during the Civil War. These did not take place until 1878.

Ware Parish Church, John Clayton Memorial Highway, Gloucester Courthouse, Virginia

Ware Parish Church, John Clayton Memorial Highway, Gloucester Courthouse, Virginia

– Click on the image to enlarge or purchase –

Although the interior retains very little resembling its colonial origins, Ware Parish Church remains important not only as one of the earliest churches in Virginia, but also as an excellent example of the rectangular form of a colonial church in the state.  It was listed as a Virginia Historic Landmark in October 1972 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in March 1973.

Colonial Churches of Virginia by Don W. and Sue Massey is one of the best resources covering all the colonial churches still in existence in Virginia.  It has information on over 50 churches from 1632 to 1791, most of which are still in use for weekly services.  The information in this book is the main source for this post along with the entry in the National Register of Historic Places.

Summary
Ware Parish Church
Article Name
Ware Parish Church
Description
Ware Parish Church is in Gloucester County in the lower part of the Middle Peninsula of Virginia. Although, the date of construction is unknown, it is believed that it must have been build by 1690 although some historians put the date of completion sometime between 1710 and 1715.
Author
Publisher Name
Mark Summerfield
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