Friday, May 9, 2008


I have found a number of sources useful in my reading on these old buildings.

  • Meade, William. Old Churches, Ministers, and Families of Virginia. 1995 Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co, Inc, 1847.

This is the basic reference available in two volumes as a reprint. I bought it off Bishop William Meade did an extensive physical survey of Virginia's colonial churches and recorded their condition in the early decades of the 19th Century. He exhaustively documents the parishes, families associated with parishes, the ministers, and anecdotes about the churches. He shows a clear evangelical bias and remonstrates against excesses of clergy and formal Anglican practices. Like Heroditus, he accepts many questionable stories, but to err on the side of completeness is not necessarily a historical sin. An invaluable resource.

  • Meade, George C. Colonial Churches of Tidewater Virginia. Richmond, Va.: Whittet and Shepperson, 1945.

George Meade complied this book after a long years of visiting sites and publishing articles in various periodicals. It is organized by counties and contains maps and some illustrations of the churches along with admirable summaries of parish and building histories. I purchased a used copy and found it was signed by the author. What a bonus!

  • Rawlings, James S. Virginia’s Colonial Churches: An Architectural Guide. Richmond, Va.: Garrett and Massie, 1963.

The canonical reference. Sporadically available on Organized by date of construction of each church with a succinct summary of parish history and lucid descriptions of the condition of each building's exterior and interior from the experienced eye of an architect. A must take on church jaunts. If you have to have one book about the churches, this is it. It contains a limited number of photographs of selected churches in color. He finds Merchant's Hope to be the stereotypical church, and it is hard not to agree with him.

  • Upton, Dell. Holy Things and Profane: Anglican Parish Churches in Colonial Virginia. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1986 (1997).

A brilliant book that examines not only the architecture but the social, historical, and cultural influence of these beautiful buildings. An absolutely must read. Upton brings to light aspects of colonial churches that are novel and transcending.

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