Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
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Our Church Building

17th century

Abingdon parish was established in 1650 - forty-three years after the first British settlement at Jamestown - in a wooden church on Robins Neck. The current building was erected between 1751 and 1755 on land donated by George Washington’s grandfather, and is the second on this site. In 1785 Abingdon parish became part of the newly organized Protestant Episcopal Church in the diocese of Virginia. 

18th century

Construction of the present building was begun in 1750. Built in the shape of a Latin Cross, it is Virginia's largest colonial church and third largest in the colonies. Much of the interior is original. The reredos (Lord's Prayer, Apostles Creed, and Ten Commandment tablets) are original, although the prayer “We praise thee, O God” was painted above the framed tablets after the Civil War. The top section of the three-decker pulpit, the baptismal font, and the stone floor in the north and south aisles are all originals, as is one column. Major portions of the wainscot paneling are also of original construction. 

The two balcony galleries are the most complete example from the colonial period. The galleries were not slave galleries, but pews for the wealthy plantation owners (Burwell, Lewis, Thurston, Warner, and Page families). An interesting feature of these galleries is the existence of "mammy benches." Here, slaves cared for the children of the wealthy plantation owners.
It was in northwest portion of one of these galleries that young Thomas Jefferson attended worship when visiting his friend John Page.

19th century

During the Civil War, the Church was occupied by Federal troops which used the building as a stable and the wood and pews as firewood. The colonial silver, donated in 1703, the pulpit, and some additional furnishings had been removed for safekeeping and are in use today. Throughout the next 75 years, Abingdon Church underwent numerous repairs.

20th century

In the 1950's, the congregation celebrated its 200th anniversary with an historical pageant, just as it would again in 2005, when the church was 250 years old. During the intervening years, the Church underwent a massive restoration to Colonial specifications in the 1980's, while unobtrusively meeting contemporary needs.

Our magnificent J. W. Walker tracker organ, ornamented with rosewood draw knobs and Virginia wildlife carvings, was made in England and installed in the church in 1988. Its sound has been praised by the many organists from the U.S. and abroad who have presented concerts here.