Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Vauter's Church, Loretto, Virginia

Following on from yesterday's post, we stopped at this very interesting church on our way home on Monday.  Surrounded by countryside, the field next to it was full of corn.  There wasn't a soul in sight, and unfortunately the doors were locked so we couldn't see what it was like inside, and the windows were too high off the ground to take a peak.  I thought I read that it has one service on Sundays at 9.00 a.m. but truth be told, I can't remember where I saw that now, or if that is in fact correct.  I read a lot of websites on this church and apparently didn't take note.

It is also known as Vauter's Episcopal Church in Loretto, Essex County, Virginia and the rectangular part was built in 1719, with the southern 'T' being erected in 1731.  It is a one-story 'T' shaped brick building with a gable roof.  The name "Vawter" is derived from that of a family whose land adjoined the site of the church when it was built, but just when this name was first used with the church seems to be uncertain.

I read that it was the best preserved church of its type, and it is the 11th oldest of 48 colonial churches still standing in the USA, with walls that are two feet thick. The masonry is among the finest of any colonial church. The doors themselves were possibly the oldest ones in the state. Below is the west doorway.

The windows too are of colonial origin...

and the glass has that thick, wavering look to it that makes me think it is very, very old.   I liked the reflections of the sky in them.

I also liked the look of the old bricks. They were laid in a Flemish bond pattern, probably fired on site with the mortar made from oyster shells. 

There is a small graveyard at the church, some of the stones were very old and some more recent.  By this time Gregg had gone behind the church to explore those but for a moment or two my attention was drawn to the magnolia tree and its pretty seed pods.  I found this wonderful blog called "Earth Teach Me" - click here for a look-see.  It shows bright red seeds popping out of a pod.  I think it is the 19th photo down.

On one of the fuzzy pods I found this interesting insect.  It reminds me of a type of assassin bug but I could not identify it, even though I scoured dozens and dozens of bug photos to try and identify it properly.

Here you can see a dried-up pod that has lost all its seeds.

I eventually caught up with Gregg behind the church.

Below the grave of a French Immigrant, a Huguenot....

(If you want to know more about the Huguenots go here)

and two Scottish gentlemen....

one from Glasgow.

I learned something recently.  Gregg has been studying our genealogy, researching my family tree as well as his own.  He discovered I had some relatives a few generations back who came to America, one of whom fought on the colonial side in the revolutionary war.

You will notice in these copies of the tombstones, that the 'f' was used to replace the 's'.  I found the following explanation here.

"In genuine old-style printing it can appear that the letter 'f' is used in place of the letter 's'.  However, it is not the letter 'f' but a long form of the letter 's' (derived from handwriting styles), which looks very similar to 'f' but does not have a complete cross-bar.  It is not used at the ends of words, and in words where there is a double 's'.  It is sometimes paired with a short 's' (which results in a compound letter like the German double-s (or 'sz') symbol `ß').  It fell out of fashion with printers rather suddenly in about 1780."

As we were walking back to our car our son called to ask how our journey was going and to ask about his grandfather. We sat on the bench for a while chatting.  It was a lovely balmy day, starting with rain but ending up with these pretty blue skies.  We stayed there for another 20 minutes or so, giving him an update on his grandpa.  At times like this I am very grateful for cell phones.

This was another smaller building not too far from the main church.

A plain stone in the wall said 1962 which we assumed meant it was built in that year.

One last look at the colonial church and it was time to continue our journey.

Below shows you where we parked our car.  

The red dot on the map shows where the church is located.  For those of you overseas who are not familiar with the shapes of our States, the white area is Virginia.

I hope you have enjoyed learning about Vauter's Church.  For more of its history you can click here.


  1. It's a beauty, Denise... a lot of character and history there.

    I like that the new plaques by the gravestones preserve the lettering style of the original. It's rare to see the letter s like that today.

  2. Asked on Buguide... look at this... leaf footed to me also.. Coreidae

  3. What a gorgeous building - and how lovely that it has been preserved and is still in use.
    Love the old cemetery too.

  4. Love the 2 tones of bricks used in this church. Interesting that and 'f' was used instead of our 's' in the grave stone messages.

  5. Thanks for the tour, very interesting history too!

  6. I think my imagination just came to life. The church looks like the pictures that i usedto draw when i was young. Very high windows

  7. Lovely church. I would love to have explored inside.

    At first I thought the insect was grasshopper. It looks like a hopper of some sort.

  8. Hello Denise, it is a beautiful church! The seed pod and bug are intersting too. Great post and photos, enjoy your day!

  9. The clouds reflected in the window appear as mystical as any stained glass in some church windows.

  10. What a lovely church. I like the brickwork!

  11. Nice that you had a cell phone so you could chat with your son out in the open and in such lovely surroundings.

  12. Lovely church, so much history. Thanks for sharing!

  13. This is a lovely Colonial church, and the cemetery appears to have been well-tended. Amazing to find the stones in such good shape.

  14. Wonderful series of lovely place. Love these images,