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Historic Christ Church

A historic landmark gets a new look in a new year.


Historic Christ Church steps boldly into 2009
History close up

The Christ Church Gallery is being doubled in size.

For an attraction that has been around for 300 years, give or take, the changing of the calendar from one year to the other is not such a big deal. But at Historic Christ Church in Irvington, the dawn of 2009 brings a sense of excitement.

The staff at the Lancaster County landmark, finished in 1735, have a full calendar of events planned for the year. The big event is April 25, when Christ Church opens its new Interpretive Gallery, twice the size of the existing one.

“We think this is really going to wow people,” said Executive Director Camille Bennett. “It’s going to have something for everyone, from high-tech interactive exhibits to low-tech fun stuff.”

The Gallery will help tell the story of Christ Church, which was the most finely crafted Anglican parish church in all of colonial Virginia. The church’s detailed brickwork, particularly the molded-brick doorways, had few rivals in Virginia and perhaps colonial America.

To members of Christ Church Parish, however, the church was more than just an architectural wonder or place of worship. The Anglican church was the official, established church of the colony, and parish residents were taxed to support it. Like the county courthouse, the colonial church was an important center of Virginian's social and political world.
Today, the Foundation for Historic Christ Church welcomes visitors of all ages, with tours of the church and grounds, and activities for all ages. It is a must-stop on any visit to the lower Northern Neck.


The church pews are much as they were in the 18th century.

Docents help interpret history at Christ Church.


Christ Church sponsors many activities for young people, and this year kicks off the season in late March with a History Fair.

“A History Fair is a lot like a science fair,” Bennett said. “The children produce history projects which will go on display.”

Historic Christ Church provides other activities for children throughout the year, including a summer Hands On History Day and two “Second Saturday” programs in July and August, featuring an ice cream social, as well a colonial games.

“In the fall our major event is a formal concert and we are currently working on that,” Bennett said.

Last year the Virginia Symphony Ensemble performed to an enthusiastic audience, and Bennett said she expected the 2009 concert to feature a similar performance.

In addition to planning a full calendar of events, there have been major improvements to the site, including a new Administration and Volunteer Building and expanded parking.

“We’ve made these improvements, but have not disturbed the visual elements of the campus,” Bennett said.
A leader in the region’s preservation efforts, the Foundation is dedicated to returning the church as closely as possible to its original condition without comprising the structure's historical integrity. Since its work commenced nearly fifty years ago, the Foundation and its corps of volunteers have worked diligently with architectural historians, skilled preservationists, and other scholars to make Historic Christ Church a living testament to Virginia's rich colonial heritage.

Foundation for Historic Christ Church
P.O. Box 24
Irvington, VA 22480
804.438.5186 (fax)

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© 2009 NorthernNeckToday.com