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OLD BLANDFORD CHURCH


Bristol Parish, Petersburg, Virginia, 1927 Postcard
Built 1735-1737

This region, along the Appomattox, is replete with historic interest, from the time of the earliest settlements. It was first set aside as Bristol Parish in 1643. The church was first known as the Brick Church on Wells's Hill. Opened in 1737, it became the religious center of the Parish.

The old church and its environs hold an inexpressible charm for the poet and the antiquarian, for the soul that loves a respite from the urge and toil of human affairs. Wandering through the churchyard, midst the softly creeping shadows, brings to mind those spiritual and solacing lines of Longfellow :

GOD'S-ACRE

I like that ancient Saxon phrase which calls
The burial-ground God's-Acre! It is just;
It consecrates each grave within its walls,
And breathes a benison o'er the sleeping dust.

Indeed the woes of war hereabouts filled the cup to overflowing, for during the Revolution colonial troops bombarded the enemy, who were occupying Petersburg. Later, in the Civil War, Petersburg was under siege by the Federals for ten months, and not far distant from old Bland-ford were the Confederate earthworks.

From the verses of "A Stranger," written on the inner walls of the old church, in the long past, in the days of its neglect, are these lines:

Thou art crumbling to the dust, old pile!
Thou art hastening to thy fall;
And around thee in thy loneliness
Clings the ivy to thy wall.

The old colonial-day town of Blandford is now overshadowed and absorbed by Petersburg, although they were both raised to the rank of towns in the year 1748. The tobacco trade gave its impulse to Blandford, and as soon as the American trade was thrown open to Scotland, by the latter's union with England in 1707, Virginia's chief market became Glasgow.

One of Glasgow's merchants owned twenty-five ships in the trade. Tobacco lords promenaded the Trongate in long scarlet robes and bushy wigs, and other men gave way as they passed. Blandford shared in this prosperity. There were those living in the near-by past who had " dim memories or shadowy traditions of the merry marriages, the sumptuous dinners, the brilliant balls, and the shining equipages which made Blandford the centre around which society revolved." In the midst of this pulsating life stood the old Brick Church on Wells's Hill, radiating from its calm and lovely setting an indefinable influence upon the homes which surrounded it.

After the Revolution the old town of Blandford rapidly declined in importance as a tobacco port, while its sister town of Petersburg grew steadily. Finally, services were discontinued in the old church, and, abandoned, it fell into ruins and so remained till succoring hands saved it from destruction.

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1999-2006 Carol Morrison,  Nola Duffy or individual contributors. No portion of the data available here may be reproduced for further publication without express consent of the original contributor. 


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