Saturday, October 25, 2008
More correctly called the Borough Church of Norfolk, St. Paul's stands in the middle of a delightfully treed churchyard in downtown Norfolk. In fact, during most seasons, the church's original plan is difficult to discern due to later additions and the presence of trees that obscure the original church, making it especially troublesome to discover clear vistas for photographs.
The parish has a rich and interesting history. It is third parish church of Elizabeth City Parish. A timeline is as follows:
- 1636 New Norfolk County separated from Elizabeth City county
- 1637 New Norfolk County divided into Lower Norfolk and Upper Norfolk Counties
- 1640 Lower Norfolk Parish established
- ? Lower Norfolk Parish sub-divided into Elizabeth River, Lynnhaven, and Southern Shore Parishes (Rawlings says "soon divided" (p. 153))
- 1691 Lower Norfolk County split into Norfolk and Princess Anne Parishes
- 1695 Lynnhaven and Princess Anne Counties merged
- 1761 Portsmouth Parish and St. Bride's Parish split from Norfolk and Princess Anne
The original, cruciform church is laid in Flemish bond with glazed headers above and English bond below the water table. In the east transept, the chancel end, the water table is virtually at ground level while it seems to be about four bricks on the other walls with a beveled border throughout. The church is a large one: it is 86'6" east-west by 64'6" with walls approximately 30" thick. This original building is notable symmetrical, creating an almost perfect Latin cross (look on Google Earth to see this demonstrated.). The chancel is 18'6" long while each arm is 18'6" long. The nave is 33' wide wile each transept is 26'3" side. The nave itself is 42' long. Remember that Virginia's colonial churches took on the cruciform shape not due to its symbolism but rather to the need to seat more parishioners within earshot of the pulpit.