Living History at Virginia’s Mattaponi Church

View of the entrance to Mattaponi Church. Note the Flemish bond glazed headers, still prominent after almost 300 years.

KING AND QUEEN COUNTY – Mattaponi Church hardly looks like the typical rural historic Southern Baptist church. The cruciform-shaped church, with a glazed-blue Flemish bond brickwork pattern, is instead a high-style relic of the time when church was state, and George II, the last non-British British monarch, was Defender of the Faith. More stylish and polished than even Bruton Parish in Williamsburg, it sits in the almost disappeared unincorporated village of Cumnor in the depopulated (and in some eras impoverished) Middle Peninsula county of King & Queen.

Mattaponi, which began life as part of the English church, dates from 1730-34, a period when landowners were fabulously wealthy with tobacco; churches expressed those aspirations. It is one of a handful of former Church of England colonial churches that are now Baptist. It is the church that my family, then Baptists, attended throughout the tumultuous 19th century, and a place that holds many untold family stories, and graves. Continue reading