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Downtown Hampton in Hampton, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

St. John's Church

The Venerable Survivor

 
 
St. John's Church Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, February 6, 2021
1. St. John's Church Marker
Inscription.  
Henry Cary, Jr. built St. John's Church, the oldest building in Hampton, in 1728. It is the fourth such structure to serve Elizabeth City Parish, established in 1610, and is America's oldest active parish in the Anglican Communion. St. John's has the oldest communion service in continuous use in America; it was made in London in 1618 and assigned to the parish in 1627. The church's cruciform plan features fine Flemish-bond brickwork with glazed headers. St. John's suffered greatly from wars. It was damaged during the bombardment of Hampton in 1775, and British troops ransacked it and used it as a barracks during the War of 1812. Renovated in 1830, the church faced its greatest threat during the Civil War.

When Confederate Gen. John B. Magruder learned that the Federals intended to house troops and escaped slaves in Hampton, he burned down the town. Local soldiers, led by Capt. Jefferson C. Phillips, completed this "loathsome yet patriotic act," on the evening of August 7, 1862. Phillips reported that his men "went immediately to work. … Flames were seen bursting from the buildings on all sides till it appeared that

St. John's Church Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, February 6, 2021
2. St. John's Church Marker
the town was one mass of flames from one end to another." Federal Lt. Charles Brewster, shocked by this scorched earth policy, wrote, "Such a picture of war and desolation. I never saw nor thought of and hope I shall not again. I pass through the courtyard round the celebrated Hampton [St. John's] Church, the oldest one in use in the United States, it is completely destroyed all but the walls and they are useless."

The walls remained strong enough to be repaired, with donations from all over the country. In 1869 services resumed, and St. John's Church stands today as the only building to survive the burning of Hampton.
 
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Churches & ReligionColonial EraWar, US CivilWar, US Revolutionary. In addition, it is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails series list.
 
Location. 37° 1.534′ N, 76° 20.794′ W. Marker is in Downtown Hampton in Hampton, Virginia. Marker is on West Queens Way just west of West Queens Court, on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 101 W Queens Way, Hampton VA 23669, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. War of 1812 Veterans Interred or Memorialized in this Historic Cemetery (a few steps from this

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marker); Founders And Patriots Buried In This Cemetery (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named St. John's Church (a few steps from this marker); Hampton Confederate Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); Elizabeth City Parish (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named St. John's Church (within shouting distance of this marker); Virginia Laydon (within shouting distance of this marker); Searching for Slabtown (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Downtown Hampton.
 
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. This marker has replaced the linked marker. It has different formatting and slightly different content.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 9, 2021. It was originally submitted on February 8, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 28 times since then. Last updated on February 8, 2021, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on February 8, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.
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Mar. 3, 2021