Yeocomico Church

Yeocomico Church

Details

Parish Affiliation

Like most early churches in Virginia, Yeocomico Church parish membership has changed as the population of Westmoreland County population grew or shifted. A brief outline shows this:

1653: Part of Nominy Parish: Westmoreland County established

1661: Upper Nominy Parish became Appomattox Parish

1662: Became upper part of Potomac Parish

1662: Lower parish church of Nominy Parish that was renamed Cople Parish before 1668 .

It is the only remaining colonial church in Cople Parish and Westmoreland County .

Dating

This is the fourth oldest complete church in Virginia preceded by Newport Parish in Smithfield 1680,York-Hampton Parish Church (Grace Church) 1697, and St. Peter in New Kent County 1701. The original part of the present building can be assigned a date of 1706 according to a dating brick in the south east wall . The north wing was most likely erected circa 1725 . It is the second church on this site; the earlier building was a wooden structure of ak timbers, sheathed with clapboards. . Curiously, parts of the wooden structure, including a corner post inside the east gable and a portion of a beam were found embedded in the walls. It has been suggested with no real proof that the brick walls were erected around the frame of the earlier wooden one, essentially encasing it. It is far more likely that some wooden elements of the earlier church were re-used in the construction of the present brick edifice .

Architecture

This is a room church that shows a combination of features from the Virginia Gothic tradition, as in Newport Parish and St. Peter, New Kent County, combined with the emerging Classical style of the Virginia church of the eighteenth century. Its unique features are:

The presence of a southwest doorway with an enclosing porch

The first example of kicked eaves in a colonial church

The establishment of a baroque juxtaposition of asses and complex shapes

Reduction of exterior decoration to understated elements

Corbelling of the corners of the church and porch

A belt course of glazed brick

Diapering on the porch faade

A series of brick arches filled with plaster on the porch faade

Corbels on the gables

A wicket door

Brick ornaments of initial plaques, emblem plaques, and a millstone inserted in the chancel upper window .

Dimensions

The church is T-shaped with irregular dimensions and bonds on the brick walls. The bricks themselves were supposedly dug and kilned a hundred yards to the northeast of the church. There is a marker with a brass plaque indicating this in the churchyard . The chancel and west walls of the east-west wing that form the main body of the church and comprise its earliest sections differ significantly in their dimensions. The other other structures of the church, the north wing and the porch, show a similar variability.

Main Church

North Wing

Porch

North Wing

South Wall

NE Wall

NW Wall

North Wall

East Wall

West Wall

South Wall

West Wall

East Wall

to South Wall

51′ 3″

26′ 3″

27′ 4″

26′ 7″

26′ 4″

23′ 11″

13′ 1″

12′ 9″

12′ 11″

50′ 8″

Also the north wing and the porch are not aligned but offset so that the porch stands far to the west of the north wing . The dimensions of the main building, the north wing, and the porch are singular in being so varied; all other Virginia churches have north-south and east-walls perfectly aligned with equal dimensions. The best consensus is that the church was most likely built as a rectangular edifice in 1706 with the north wing added in the 1720s.

Brickwork

The brickwork is typical of Virginia colonial churches in being laid with a water table, a section standing on the foundation, a brick length wider than the walls that are nineteen inches thick. The transition from the water table to the walls is made with an ovolo, a convex round, molded brick. As is the custom, English bond is present on all of the water table. The walls, however, are varied in their brickwork with some sections being laid in Flemish bond, other sections in English bond, and still other sections in irregular, mixed bond. Flemish bond is used regularly on the porch and most of the south wall. English bond is used on the upper eastern part of the south wall, the east and west gables, two sections of the north wall and the chancel wall. The north wing is a mixture of Flemish and irregular bonds. Glazed headers are used with some regularity in the walls as is typical with Flemish bond, but some sections show an irregular use of the this feature also

All of the walls show extensive repointing and other repairs to the brick and mortar. These may be of late nineteenth or twentieth century origin as Meade reports in an 1838 visit that few repairs were evident . The present edifice, however, shows alterations to almost all of the surfaces: south wall of porch; west wall of porch; upper right part of south wall; south wall under window and lower left corner; vertical line between window and eastern doorway; water table between window and eastern doorway; chancel wall on east; chancel gable; chancel water table; north wall of chancel around small window; north gable apex; west wall lower left; north wall of nave ; west wall of nave.

Doors

The location of and features of the doors make this church an interesting study in the transition from the Gothic room church to the Classical room church in Virginia.

Wicket Door

Inside the south porch is a wicket door, the only known one in an American colonial church. It consists of five vertical sections and three horizontal sections each divided by battens. The smaller door is located within the middle three battens vertically and the central one horizontally. Cyma reversa mouldings are used on the battens. In the 1960s, the area around the doorway segmental arch was covered with a layer of plaster. [The plaster is presently removed, and brick repairs are evident.] The doorway wooden molding is of a cyma reversa, reverse S, curve. On the hinge side is a large wooden peg that keeps the upper hinge from pulling out of the frame. The hinges consist of thick pintles at the top and bottom of the left side of the door. The door is said to weigh one-thousand pounds. The door is six feet wide and eight feet high and is of two thicknesses. There is a large, horizontal board at the top, then two small boards, and at the bottom four more horizontal boards. The outer door is held in place by large strap hinges that are obviously hand made. The inset wicket door also has a pair of strap hinges that are miniature images of the larger door with similar construction from horizontal boards. There is a single deadbolt on the inside of the door .

Southeast Door

The door frame for this opening is highly altered in almost every detail with the exception of the basic size. The door itself may be original but is almost certainly of old if not of colonial origin. It consists of a pair of narrow, white battened doors opening at the center. Each door has a pair of vertical recessed panels on the top and bottom half, comprising four panels on each door. The brick arch is obviously a replacement, but the wooden door trim consisting of two vertical frames surmounted by a horizontal board bearing a chamfer and lamb tongue molding may be of colonial age. The vertical frame members extend beyond the lintel to the bottom of the brick arch. The space between the arch and the top board is filled with flat plaster. The sill is a simple wooden one. In all likelihood, this opening had a pediment of unknown appearance in colonial days. It is the only door in the church that has a lock and key. These are of modern origin.

North Door

This opening on the end of the north wing consists of a full width, battened door bearing four vertical, recessed panels similar to the south door. The frame and brickwork surrounding it are probably reworked. This is especially evident in the brick framing on the top that is now a simple course of Flemish bond. The wooden door frame consists of three sets of flat boards, becoming progressively narrower toward the doorway. There is a bevel between the outermost frame member and a semi-round molding between the two inner boards. Both the north and south doors are secured by strap hinges on the inside.

Windows

The original window openings are difficult to ascertain due to successive and significant reworkings of the walls since 1900. Despite this, the general form of the windows is in all probability similar to the present openings. The general form most likely follows that of St. Peter Church in New Kent county that has leaded diamond-shaped leaded panes set in square casement windows, though, these too are reproductions from fragments discovered on the site. Diamond-paned windows were in common use in England since the 1630s. The present windows are clearly not colonial and reflect changes in fenestration during the nineteenth century..

The rectangular windows on the south, east, north wing of the east wall, the west wall, and all walls in the north wing are similar. They consist of two rectangular, facing guillotine sashed windows covered by heavy wooden shutters painted dark green and fixed with wrought iron H or H-L hinges. The shutters are not of colonial origin. The east faade had two window openings: a large rectangular one that is 9 wide and 8 2 high with 16 over 16 glass panes and a circular window above it with an inner section in quarters and an outer section in eighths. The circular window, in particular, is of uncertain authenticity as it is claimed that until restorations in 1930 it contained not a the present type of window but either