The Foundation for Historic Christ Church Awarded Three Grants for New Exhibit

April 2016

The Foundation for Historic Christ Church is pleased to announce the recent award of three grants to mount a new exhibit on Robert Carter III’s 1791 Deed of Emancipation. 2016 is the 225th anniversary of Robert Carter III’s 1791 deed. The largest single emancipation in this country before the Civil War, the deed provided for the gradual manumission of more than 500 African-American slaves living on Carter’s Virginia plantations. 

The purpose of the exhibit is to examine slavery at Carter’s plantations and the lives of those set free. Its goal is to reach an audience that includes people of African descent and tells this little-known, but monumental story.

A remarkable act at an important time in Virginia slavery, Carter’s deed and the lives of those set free has generated only modest interest from historians and even less from museums. Robert Carter III and the 1791 Deed of Emancipation will be the first public exhibition of this incredible story. Through historical images, documents, and artifacts, it looks at the 1791 deed from two perspectives: Carter’s journey from grandson of Virginia’s largest slave owner to an emancipator; and the slave communities at Nomini Hall and Carter’s fifteen other plantations and their legacies of emancipation.

The exhibit will highlight elements of the African-American experience in the Northern Neck and provide residents and visitors, especially those who are descended from and/or have ties to the enslaved community, with an opportunity to explore their family history.  A majority of the artifacts are from excavations at Nomini Hall, Carter’s home plantation, and have never been exhibited in a public museum. With this exhibit, Historic Christ Church & Museum will draw a more diverse group of visitors and explore new themes and stories that are relevant today.

Mounting this exhibit in the museum will be the first step in an ongoing project to highlight the story of Carter-related slavery in the Northern Neck and beyond. For 2017, Historic Christ Church & Museum and its research committee plan to install an interactive display that will feature oral histories of slave descendants.

The design contract for planning and fabricating the exhibit has been awarded to Riggs Ward, Richmond, Virginia. Riggs Ward did the 2009 exhibit design project for the museum at Historic Christ Church & Museum. The exhibition is planned for installation at the end of July 2016, in time for the 225th celebration of this historic event on August 20 at 1st Baptist Church, Heathsville, who will also be celebrating their 150th anniversary this year. Partners in the Manumission celebration include Mary Ball Washington Museum & Library and the Northern Neck of Virginia Historical Society.  

Historic Christ Church & Museum Announces Summer Crawl to Fredericksburg

April 2016

As part of its “Everyday Life in the 18th Century” 2016 educational theme, Historic Christ Church & Museum is sponsoring a bus trip to Fredericksburg on Wednesday, June 1. Open to the public and museum members. The tour will visit three sites at Historic Fredericksburg: Hugh Mercer Apothecary, Rising Sun Tavern, and the Mary Washington House, said HCC&M Education Director & Curator Robert Teagle.  

The Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop is an 18th-century building restored to interpret colonial medicine and the life of Dr. Hugh Mercer, who practiced in Fredericksburg in the 1760-70s. Interpreters will show how Mercer used leeches, snakeroots, lancets, crab claws and other remedies to treat colonial Virginians, including Mary Washington. 

Rising Sun Tavern was constructed ca. 1760 and first used as a home for Charles Washington, youngest brother of George Washington. It opened as a tavern in 1792 and includes a collection of 18-19th century American and English pewter. Taverns played a critical role in the social and political life of colonial Virginia, said Teagle.

Purchased in 1772 by George Washington for his mother, Lancaster County native Mary Ball Washington, the Mary Ball Washington House is a white frame house that includes a complex floor plan with refined interior woodwork; the site also features an 18th-century kitchen. Mary Ball Washington lived here the last seventeen years of her life.

This event is open the public and HCC & M members. The trip is by chartered bus and will depart Historic Christ Church & Museum at 8:00 a.m. and return at 5:30 p.m. Cost is $65 and includes bus, admissions, lunch at Brock’s Riverside Grill and treats on the bus. Seating is limited.

To purchase tickets or for more information, please visit online or call 804-438-6855. 

Two Rivers Duo Play at Historic Christ Church & Museum May 19

April 2016

Nothing adds spirit and elegance to an event like live classical music. Using the superb acoustics of the 1735 Historic Christ Church, The Foundation for Historic Christ Church is delighted to present the Two Rivers Duo at its 58th Annual Meeting May 19.

Violinist Susannah Livingston and cellist Sarah Glosson, Ph.D. are the Two Rivers Duo and have performed together since 1995. They have appeared at this region’s most prestigious venues including the Governor's Palace, The Mariners' Museum, Evelynton Plantation, and the Wren Chapel and Great Hall. They have performed extensively with respected professional ensembles like the Governor's Musick at Colonial Williamsburg, the Williamsburg Symphonia, and the Wren Masters.

The event will feature 1730s Baroque music accompanied by information on how instruments of the 1730s were different from instruments today. Do not miss this wonderful afternoon of music and fun.

The Foundation for Historic Christ Church Annual Meeting is open to all members and volunteers on Thursday, May 19 at 4 p.m. A catered reception by Windows on the Water follows the meeting. To reserve your seat, please contact the Foundation office at 804-438-6855 or buy your tickets online. Pre-reservations are required; $25 per person. 

Thomas Carter Home Site Archaeological Dig

April 2016

Mary Ball Washington Museum & Library and Historic Christ Church & Museum are proud co-sponsors of an archaeological dig in Lancaster County May 12-14, 2016. Funded by The Carter Society (TCS) of Descendants of Colonial Virginia Carters through individual donations, the work will be conducted by the Fairfield Foundation in Gloucester County. They will conduct a shovel test survey on five acres of land at West Point Road where the Corotoman River divides into the Eastern and Western branches. The Farley family owns the 30-acre property and has given permission to carry out the exploratory dig. The rain date for the project is May 26-28.

Volunteers are encouraged to help with the dig but are asked to contact Dave Brown at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so that the work can be organized and scheduled over the 3-day period. Observers are also very welcome to attend and are asked to contact Dave in advance. Tax deductible donations are welcome and can be sent to TCS treasurer, Ben Kemplin, 12345 Bowling Green Road, Alburn, KY  42206; please designate for "TCS Discovery and Preservation Fund."

Thomas Carter was an early immigrant to Lancaster County, arriving sometime in the mid-1600s. He married Katharine Dale, the daughter of Edward Dale and Diana Skipwith Dale on 4 May 1670. Edward Dale, a prominent Lancaster County official, gave the 500-acre property to the newlywed couple as a gift, and they established their home near the water front. There they raised thirteen children, nine of whom lived to adulthood. The children and their godparents, all well-known local residents from the Carter, Chowning, Conway, Corbyn, Ball, Dale, Fox, Lee, and Stretchly families, as well as Lady Ann Skipwith, are documented in Thomas Carter’s 1662 Book of Common Prayer, now owned by the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond. In this prayer book, Thomas Carter identified himself as “Mr. Thomas Carter of Barford in ye county of Lancaster in Virga.” Many believe Barford identified his origins in Bedfordshire, England, but some have claimed it identified his property, sometimes in modern times referred to as “Barford.”  

The eldest son was Edward, probably named after his maternal grandfather; the second son was Thomas, Jr. who was a close business associate of Robert “King” Carter and inherited “The Old Home Place,” after his father’s death in 1700. Several generations occupied the house until all of the property was eventually sold to Col. James Gordon. Sons Edward, John and Henry Skipwith Carter also inherited portions of the property. Other sons and daughters went on to become successful members of Christ Church Parish, and St. Mary’s White Chapel. It is said that Henry Carter inherited part of the property on the top of the hill near Merry Point, now known as Verville, and built a portion of the present house in 1725. This property is owned by Mr. Ammon G. Dunton, Jr. and will be one of several Lancaster properties featured on the April 27 Historic Garden Week tour, “Following Country Roads in Lancaster County.”

Contacts for further information: Robert Lumsden, organizer, and Mary Ball and Christ Church volunteer, Heathsville, VA. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and David Brown, Archaeologist, Fairfield Foundation, Gloucester, VA. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Historic Christ Church to Host Kirking of the Tartan

April 2016

The Foundation for Historic Christ Church will be the site of the annual Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan on April 24 at 12:30 p.m. Grace Episcopal Church, Campbell Memorial Presbyterian Church, and the Kilmarnock & District Pipe and Drums will assist in the program while St. Andrew’s Society of Williamsburg will act as color guard.

The word Kirking comes from the Scottish Gaelic word for kirk, meaning church, or, in this case, “blessing.” Tartans are the traditional plaid emblems of Scottish clans. According to Marilyn Hedges, publicity chair, many attendees at the Sunday service will wear tartans representing their clans.

Although the legend of the Kirkin’ goes back to 1745 and “Bonnie Prince Charlie,” it wasn’t until the 20th century that the custom came to America. The Reverend Peter Marshall, one-time pastor of Washington, D.C.’s New York Avenue Presbyterian Church and Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, recreated the ceremony to instill pride among Scottish-Americans in their Scottish homeland. Today, people of many denominations remember the Highlander patriotism, faithfulness, and independence by the wearing of the tartans and the playing of the bagpipes. 

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