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Parish History Notes 17: The Renovations of 1835

Fork Church was certainly in need of repair by 1834, when Rev. William V. Bowers was ordained priest and became rector of St. Martin’s Parish. In a letter dated March 16, 1877, now held by the Virginia Historical Society, he describes the necessary repairs that were made to the church immediately after his arrival:

The back end wall was cracked and an iron bar was inserted in the wall from side to side.  A new roof was put on, and the plastering (which was very much fallen) was thoroughly repaired and the whole wall whitewashed.  The pews were after the old English style of boxes with seats all around and so deep, or high, that only adult’s heads could be seen above the tops of them.  These were all taken out, the floor cleaned and repaired, and the pews in their present form… replaced, being constructed of the old materials.  The pulpit & chancel were entirely removed.  The present “tub” pulpit stood on an unsightly square box which was a receptacle for dust and trash.  The pulpit was placed on the present support, its depth was lessened, and had new flights of stairs put up, and was hung with purple or blue tapestry.  The old chancel railing was square, massive, & made of pine or poplar, the desk & communion table of the same material, all in the plainest style, without hanging drapery….  The floor of the gallery was altered and newly seated and the underneath of it partitioned off, and a robing room made on the north side, there being none before. The windows were generally repaired and largely reglazed.  The church was not painted without or within and I think never had been up to that time.

Thanks to Rev. Bowers, we know a great deal about the early configuration of the church. For example, this is our primary source for the description of the original pews. It is also confirmation that the replacement pews were made from the original material.