WPC: Ascend!

Rose window, Bruton Parish, Williamsburg VA

From the sublime…
To the strange…
There are many opportunities at Colonial Williamsburg  to ‘ascend’ this holiday season!

The reconstructed ‘Governor’s Palace’ at Colonial Williamsburg, dressed for the holidays.

“If we are serious about dreaming our awakening into being
and creating a peaceful, loving earth
in which the heart, spirit and soul are the only true leaders,
we must continue to keep our focus on thoughts of unity
and all that truly brings us together.”
Diane Hall
Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017
For the Daily Post’s
Weekly Photo Challenge:  Ascend

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside Bruton Parish Churchyard

Bruton Parish church yard, as seen from Duke of Gloucester Street.

Bruton Parish church yard, as seen from Duke of Gloucester Street.

The church we know today as Bruton Parish was established during the first century of settlement here in Virginia.  It grew from the consolidation of several existing parishes in this area.

It was formally recognized, and its first rector named, in 1674.  Land  for building the church was donated in 1678 by Col. John Page.   The original Gothic style brick church was completed in  1683.

The original church's foundation, inside ethe church yard.

The original church’s foundation, inside the church yard.

Only about 60×24 feet, the original Bruton Parish church was located to the north and west of the present building, in what is now the church yard.

March 12, 2014 CW 075

This new church served the needs of the growing population here in Virginia, and became very important in the life of the colony.

After the College of William and Mary was founded in 1693, and the Governor and his entourage began attending the church when the capitol was moved from Jamestown to Middle Plantation in 1699; the new church proved much too small for the growing community.  The town’s name had by now been changed to Williamsburg.

March 12, 2014 CW 060

By 1706 the church vestry had begun to discuss building a larger church.  The Church of England had a firm hand in all community and  governmental affairs, and everyone in the community was expected to maintain a relationship with the Parish.

Everyone was required to not only belong to a Parish, but to support it financially and show up regularly for worship. The Parish was responsible for all baptisms, marriages, funerals, confirmations, and communion.

March 12, 2014 CW 079

Crepe Myrtle and ivy grow in this corner of the church yard.  Boxwood shrubs grow beyond this portion of the wall.

Religious freedom wasn’t born until the time of the American Revolution.

March 12, 2014 CW 064

The original church was simply not large enough for all those who attended, especially when the House of Burgesses was in session.

Governor Alexander Spotswood designed the new church building.  His design was 75 feet long by 28 feet wide, the first cross shaped church in Virginia.  The new building was completed in 1715.  The original small brick church’s foundation can be found today in the church yard of the present church.

This is a particularly interesting tomb.  Notice the symbols, reminicent of Shakespear's plays.

This is a particularly interesting tomb. Notice the symbols, reminiscent of Shakespear’s plays.

Some of the oldest marked graves in Virginia are found within this cemetery, now enclosed by a wall.  There are those who read much history from a well kept church yard.

Another view of the same bomb.

Another view of the same bomb.

The body of young Mathew Whaley, the 9 year old boy who died quite suddenly of pneumonia in 1675, lies here in a prominent grave, beside his father.  Our neighborhood  elementary school, just a short distance away, is named for little Mathew.

March 12, 2014 CW 115

This church has witnessed the history of our nation.   It was disenfranchised from the Anglican Church of England in 1776 and lost its tax support.  It became an Episcopalian church, and remains one today.

The main entrance to Bruton Parish, inside the church yard wall.

The main entrance to Bruton Parish, inside the church yard wall.

It lost many members when state government moved to Richmond in  1780. But the church has remained important in the life of the community, and in the life of the College.  Faculty and students are an important part of the congregation, and the church’s Rector has, from time to time, also been President of the College.

March 12, 2014 CW 072

Bruton Parish witnessed both the American Revolution in the Eighteenth Century, and the American Civil War in the 1860’s.  The church was used as a hospital for wounded soldiers in 1862, after The Battle of Williamsburg.

March 12, 2014 CW 074

Ivy and daffodils brighten the early spring garden in the Bruton Parish church yard.

As you might expect, this important and historic church houses many historical treasures, many gifts from the wealthy and powerful.  Through all or the changes this church has experienced during the last 340 years, its true treasure is its strong congregation.

March 12, 2014 CW 077

Live oak tree growing by the churchyard wall

A vital part of our community today, just as it was in the 17th century; this church, churchyard, and congregation remain important to our community here in Williamsburg, Virginia.

The church opens its doors to visitors for tours, concerts, meetings, and worship.  Community groups use its Parish house, and Bruton Paris maintains many ministries in the community.

Here you will find living history, even inside the church yard.

All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

“If the freedom of religion, guaranteed to us by law in theory, can ever rise in practice under the overbearing inquisition of public opinion,

then and only then, will truth prevail over fanaticism.

Thomas Jefferson

March 12, 2014 CW 105

Bruton Parish Episcopal Church

One’s Own Back Garden

The Trees’ Knees

Signs of Spring in Colonial Williamsburg

The Trees’ Knees

February 18 2014 parkway 022

These beautiful trees continue to stand firm along this badly eroded bank of the James River near Jamestown.  The bank drops quite suddenly, straight down by five or six feet beside the footpath at one of the parking areas along the Colonial Parkway.  Erosion has been a problem along the banks of the James and York rivers for a while now, especially extreme erosion resulting from river flooding during hurricanes and nor’easters.

February 18 2014 parkway 028

When I was in school, we learned the original settlement at Jamestown had been washed away many decades ago as the river’s banks eroded.  We satisfied ourselves with the recreation fashioned at Jamestown Festival Park, based on the records left behind by the original settlers.  Actors and actresses dressed up as native Americans and English settlers.  The public school version of history is substantially simplified and sanitized for broad consumption.

Even when I first taught American history, our curriculum perpetuated the story that the area originally inhabited in 1607 was lost.  It was at about this same time, in the early 1990s that a group of archeologists, led by Dr. William Kelso, dared to disagree.

Based on the location of the original 17th Century Jamestown church tower, they began a project called “Jamestown Rediscovery,” in 1994, and within a few seasons located evidence of the original palisade between the church and the present banks of the James River.  The project continues today, and visitors to the site may walk through the dig, watch archeologists at work, and see many recovered artifacts, including human skeletons, recovered at the site.

February 18 2014 parkway 018

I had the privilege of accompanying groups of students to the site on field trips during my last few years of teaching in public school.  The truth is uncovered at last, and students have access to a far more realistic and honest interpretation of life in this original permanent English colony along the mid-Atlantic coast.

In fact, over the last 20 to 30 years, archeologists and historians have uncovered, documented, and publicized quite a bit of our history which had remained hidden in the past.

We are learning about the European Templar Knights who explored North America more than a century before the birth of Christopher Columbus.  We have evidence of Egyptians in Arizona and Runic inscriptions in the Midwest.  And, perhaps more importantly, we are learning more about the motives and purposes of those who founded our county in the 16th through 18th centuries.

February 18 2014 parkway 020

One man, mentioned only tangentially in most history textbooks, we now know was one of the most important men driving the efforts of the Virginia Company of London.  Living a life shrouded in secrecy from his birth, never publicly acknowledged by his natural mother, although she was one of the most powerful women in the world at the time; he grew to become the driving force behind one of the most powerful secret societies in 16th Century Europe.

February 18 2014 parkway 015

One of the first true scientists, who developed the “scientific method” of Enlightenment Europe; he also helped to organize the Virginia Company, raise funds for its activity, and give it its purpose.

A prolific writer, he wrote a Utopian novel called, “The New Atlantis.”  It was so politically subversive, in its day, it was only partially publicly published, in Latin, before his passing.  His personal motto, “Occulta Veritas Tempore Patel” translates as, “Hidden truth comes to light in time.”

February 18 2014 parkway 023

We witness the fulfillment of this core belief in our own times.  Our nation was founded in an era when serious scientific inquiry was conducted in secret.  The royal governments of Europe, and the politicized churches, controlled the flow and acquisition of knowledge.  Publishing a conflicting point of view often resulted arrest, torture, even execution in the 16th Century.  Real inquiry, and serious discussion was held in closed societies of “brothers” who pledged fidelity to one another.  And the notes, correspondence, and proceedings of these societies were closely guarded.

February 18 2014 parkway 034

That is why many believe that our Founding Father, Sir Francis, shipped many of his papers, books, and artifacts to Virginia for safekeeping, well out of reach of both Royals and Priests.  The legend relates that a vault was built beneath the foundation of that original Jamestown church, and a special “library” deposited in the vault by “friends” emigrating here to Virginia during those early years of the Jamestown Colony.  Some speculate that Sir Nathaniel Bacon may have had a hand in transferring  documents and establishing this vault when he moved to Virginia in 1635.

February 18 2014 parkway 029

In fact, although Sir Francis was said to have died quite suddenly of pneumonia in 1626, while visiting a friend; there is no record of a funeral or burial for him.  His monument stands, or rather sits, in St. Michael’s Church in St.Albans; but there are those who believe he secretly boarded a ship and headed to one of his several colonies here in the “New World.”  Whether he ended up in Newfoundland, Pennsylvania, or Jamestown, we don’t yet know.

What we do know, is that the contents of that original vault were supposedly transferred away from the coast, and the river, to an inland location at “Middle Plantation” sometime between the 1640s and 1683, when the original brick church was completed.  The foundation of that original structure still stands in the churchyard of the present Bruton Parish.

December 5 2013 DOG St 047

Various structures in Middle Plantation were connected with a series of subterranean tunnels, which still exist.  There are those who believe that access to the vault was through one or more of these tunnels, probably even used by other “Founding Fathers” such as Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Patrick Henry, George Mason, and Henry Clay a century later.

George Wythe's home, with the Bruton Parish steeple visible across the garden.

George Wythe’s home, with the Bruton Parish steeple visible across the garden.

They would have had access from the home of friend and teacher George Wythe in order to study the documents in this most special library.  George Wythe’s home still stands near the church yard.

December 5 2013 DOG St 048

Access to those tunnels may have also come with the purchase of properties, in the early 20th Century, by those who believed it important to preserve the history of Colonial Virginia.  Surely such a priceless library has been preserved, along with so much else.

Bruton Parish stands in the heart of Colonial Williamsburg, although it is not owned by the Foundation.  It is still an Episcopalian church.

Bruton Parish stands in the heart of Colonial Williamsburg, although it is not owned by the Foundation. It is still an Episcopalian church.

And many hope that like so much else which has remained hidden, it too, one day, will be revealed; and that more of the true history of our America will come to light, for those with ears to hear and eyes to see.

December 5 2013 DOG St 049

Photos by Woodland Gnome, 2013-2014

February 18 2014 parkway 027

“The glory of God is to conceal a thing, but the glory of the King (a Man) is to find it out: 

As if the divine nature, according to the innocent and the sweet play of children; which hide themselves to the end that they may be found,

took delight to hide his work to the end that they may be found out;

and of his indulgence and goodness to mankind has chosen the soul of man to be his playfellow in this game.” 

Sir Francis Bacon, in Instauration Magna

July 5 garden at sunset 034

Weekly Photo Challenge: Let There Be Light!

Bruton Parish, on Duke of Gloucester Street in Colonial Williamsburg.

Bruton Parish, on Duke of Gloucester Street in Colonial Williamsburg.

The Grand Illumination in Colonial Williamsburg is this coming weekend, on Sunday evening, and I’ve wanted all week to walk on Duke of Gloucester Street to see the wreathes and decorations while they’re fresh.  Each day lately has been filled to the brim, and so the trip was pushed into this afternoon.  And then it rained.  So much of the United States is preparing for a winter storm with snow and ice; but we are looking at a stretch of rain here in Williamsburg, just as the town fills with visitors for one of the biggest events of the year.

Lights are already lit inside the church.

Lights are already lit inside the church.

The rain stopped in early afternoon, but it looked like dusk by 2:30.  The air was heavy with moisture, every surface wet, with patches of lichen and moss thriving on trees trunks and wooden roofs.  Candles shone from windows here and there, and twinkle lights outside of restaurants were already lit.

Twinkle lights dress the Crepe Myrtle trees on Duke of Gloucester Street.

Twinkle lights dress the Crepe Myrtle trees on Duke of Gloucester Street.

A grey December day; but it didn’t affect the crowd.  Parking scarce, it was business as usual for a weekday afternoon on Duke of Gloucester Street.  And Christmas decorations are just going up in preparation for the weekend.

Colonial Williamsburg’s decorations are made mostly with fresh and dried botanicals.  Dried citrus slices, cones, seed pods, dried flowers, and evergreens are mixed with fresh fruit, spices, feathers and ribbon.  They are all hand made in the days leading up to the Grand Illumination.  Each year the designs are a little bit different, so it is always a surprise to walk around and see what the designers have created.

Ready made wreathes are offered for sale in the CW garden.

Ready made wreathes are offered for sale in the CW garden.

Wreathes and arrangements are available for sale at the garden across from Bruton Parish Church, as are the materials needed to make ones’ own.

Williamsburg is much greener today than it was in Colonial Times.  Trees were cut in the 17th and 18th century for timber and to clear land for farming.  Over the years many old and stately trees have grown back, so the area is lush today with gardens, hedges, and beautiful trees.December 5 2013 DOG St 037

In spite of a heavy brooding sky, lowering with more rain as we walked, CW felt bright and festive today.  Happy visitors strolled from building to building enjoying the decorations, the horses, the lush gardens, and the novelty of finding such an interesting place set down in the middle of a beautiful town.

There was plenty of light for a December afternoon.

A wreath for sale at the garden.

A wreath for sale at the garden.

Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Tis the season to be jolly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Don we now our gay apparel,
Fa la la, la la la, la la la.
Troll the ancient Yule tide carol,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

December 5 2013 DOG St 024See the blazing Yule before us,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Strike the harp and join the chorus.
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Follow me in merry measure,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
While I tell of Yule tide treasure,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

December 5 2013 DOG St 014Fast away the old year passes,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Sing we joyous, all together,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Heedless of the wind and weather,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.


16th Century Welsh Carol

All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2013

Our Forest Garden- The Journey Continues

Please visit and follow Our Forest Garden- The Journey Continues to see all new posts since January 8, 2021.

A new site allows me to continue posting new content since after more than 1700 posts there is no more room on this site.  -WG

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 781 other subscribers
Follow Forest Garden on WordPress.com

Topics of Interest