Briery Church, Prince Edward County

Virginia Historical Highway Marker F75, Old Briery Church.

OLD BRIERY CHURCH

Just to the north stands Briery Church, organized in 1755 following the missionary work of Presbyterian minister Samuel Davies. The first church was built about 1760 and was replaced in 1824. The present gothic revival church was built about 1855 to designs of Robert Lewis Dabney.

Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission, 1971

Briery Church (credit: Virginia Department of Historic Resources).

Briery Church is a one-story, board-and-batten-covered frame structure built on a T-shaped plan. Emphasizing the vertical lines of the church are the steep gable roof, with overhanging eaves, the three cross gables on the south front, and the simple finials on each gable end. All the openings are in the form of lancet arches, the windows having diamond panes and the four entrances on the west, south, and east fronts being sheltered by small gable canopy porches with barge boarding in the form of simple curving strips of wood. The building rests on a masonry foundation (probably brick) covered with stucco.

Briery Church, Keysville vic., Prince Edward County, Virginia, c. 1930-1939, Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952.
Briery Church, Keysville vic., Prince Edward County, Virginia, c. 1930-1939, Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952.
Briery Church, Keysville vic., Prince Edward County, Virginia, c. 1930-1939, Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952.
Briery Church, Keysville vic., Prince Edward County, Virginia, c. 1930-1939, Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952.
Briery Church (CC image, photographer David Hoffman, Flickr).
Briery Church (CC image, photographer David Hoffman, Flickr).
Briery Church (CC image, photographer David Hoffman, Flickr).
Briery Church (CC image, photographer David Hoffman, Flickr).
Briery Church (CC image, photographer David Hoffman, Flickr).
Briery Church (CC image, photographer David Hoffman, Flickr).
Briery Church (CC image, photographer David Hoffman, Flickr).
View of pulpit, Briery Church.

On the interior, plain pews on either side of a central aisle face the pulpit from each of the three wings of the ‘T.’ The long pine pulpit has lancet-arched recessed panels with a row of pendants hanging from the top. The pine ceiling begins at the eaves line and follows the interior pitch of the roof up for several feet before curving into a horizontal level which combines with the vertical pine uprights at the corners and the ‘ribs’ to create the effect of vaulting.

View of sanctuary, Briery Church.
View of nave, Briery Church.

Organized in 1755 following the missionary work of the ‘New Light’ evangelist Samuel Davies, the first church was erected about 1760, probably following the issuance of permission to worship by the Prince Edward County Court to the Briery congregation. The original meeting house was replaced in 1824, and the third and present Briery Church on the site was constructed circa 1855. This Gothic Revival church was designed by the noted theologian, Rev. Robert Lewis Dabney (1820-1898), a professor of theology at Union Theological Seminary, then a part of Hampden-Sydney College, and author of a biography of ‘Stonewall’ Jackson for whom Major Dabney had served as Chief of Staff in 1862. Dabney was also the architect for three other churches, Tinkling Spring Church in Augusta County, Farmville Presbyterian Church, and College Church at Hampden-Sydney, all of which are constructed of brick and are in the Greek Revival style, making Briery Church all the more unusual.

Briery Church remains today as a symbol of the perseverance of Presbyterianism in Virginia and houses a congregation formed over two hundred years ago. It is significant as an architectural composition utilizing the vertical lines of the board and batten walls with the picturesque exaggeration of the roofline. Placed in its forest setting of tall pines, this small white structure expresses the essence of mid-19th Century romanticism.

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A Pure and Dignified Society

Illustration of the Old Market at Lynchburg, by James Wells Champney, from Edward King’s The Great South, Hartford, Conn.: American Publishing Co., 1875.

Something of the old Scotch and English manners are still perceptible among the people in this part of Virginia; and there are bits of dialect and phrase which show how little the communities have been affected during the last century by the influences which have so transformed the populations of other sections of America. While England has gone on from change to change, and has even been capable of complete revolution in certain matters, Virginia has altered but little. Until now immigration has had no inducements to come and unlock the treasure-house of the grand mountains of the South-west, and so the people have lived under pretty much the same laws and customs that prevailed in England two centuries ago. Yet the absence of the rushing, turbulent current of immigration has had its compensating advantages in allowing the growth of families in which the hereditary love of culture and refinement, and the strictest attention to those graces and courtesies which always distinguish a pure and dignified society, are preeminently conspicuous.

Edward King, The Great South; A Record of Journeys in Louisiana, Texas, the Indian Territory, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland, Hartford, Conn.: American Publishing Co., 1875.

The Fifth Realm

Arms of the Virginia Company of London, engraving by Simon Gribelin, frontispiece to second edition of Robert Beverley’s The History of Virginia in Four Parts, London, 1722.

Corpse and Quioccos

Council of Powhatan, E. Benjamin Andrews, History of the United States, from the Earliest Discovery of America to the Present Time, New York: Scribner’s Sons, 1913.

The Indians are religious in preserving the Corpses of their Kings and Rulers after Death, which they order in the following manner: First, they neatly flay off the Skin as entire as they can, slitting it only in the Back; then they pick all the Flesh off from the Bones as clean as possible, leaving the Sinews fastned to the Bones, that they may preserve the Joints together; then they dry the Bones in the Sun, and put them into the Skin again, which in the mean time has been kept from drying or shrinking; when the Bones are placed right in the Skin, they nicely fill up the Vacuities, with a very fine white Sand. After this they sew up the Skin again, and the Body looks as if the Flesh had not been removed. They take care to keep the Skin from shrinking, by the help of a little Oil or Grease, which saves it also from Corruption. Tho Skin being thus prepar’d, they lay it in an apartment for that purpose, upon a large Shelf rais’d above the Floor. This Shelf is spread with Mats, for the Corpse to rest easy on, and skreened with the same, to keep it from the Dust. The Flesh they lay upon Hurdles in the Sun to dry, and when it is thoroughly dried, it is sowed up in a Basket, and set at the Feet of the Corpse, to which it belongs. In this place also they set up a Quioccos, or Idol, which they believe will be a Guard to the Corpse. Here Night and Day one or the other of the Priests must give his Attendance, to take care of the dead Bodies. So great an Honour and Veneration have these ignorant and unpolisht People for their Princes even after they are dead.

Robert Beverley, The History of Virginia, In Four Parts, Second Edition, London: 1722, p. 185.

Newes from Virginia

Nevves from Virginia.
The lost Flocke
Triumphant
.

With the happy Arriuall of that famous and
worthy knight Sr. Thomas Gates: and the well
reputed & valiant Captaine Mr. Chri-
ſtopher Newporte, and others,
into England.

With the maner of their diſtreſſe in the
Iland of Deuils (otherwise called Bermoothawes)
where they remained 42. weekes, & builded
two Pynaces, in which they returned
into Virginia.

By R. Rich, Gent. one of the Voyage.

LONDON
Printed by Edw: Allde, and are to be solde by John Wright at Christ-Church dore. 1610.

* * *

To the Reader.

READER, how to stile thee I knowe not, perhaps Learned, perhaps unlearned: happily captious, happily envious: indeed, what or how to tearme thee I knowe not, only as I began I will proceede.

Reader, thou dost peradventure imagine that I am mercenarie in this busines, and write for money (as your moderne Poets use) hyred by some of those ever to be admired Adventurers to flatter the world: No, I disclaime it. I have knowne the Voyage, past the danger, seene that honorable work of Virginia, & I thanke God am arrivd here to tell thee what I have seene, don, & past: if thou wilt believe me so, if not so to: for I cannot force thee but to thy owne liking: I am a Soldier, blunt and plaine, and so is the phrase of my newes: and I protest it is true. If thou ask why I put it in Verse? I prethee knowe, it was only to feede mine owne humour: I must confesse, that had I not debard myselfe of that large scope which to the writing of prose is allowed, I should have much easd my selfe, and given thee better content. But I intreat thee to take this as it is; and before many daies expire, I will promise thee the same worke more at large.

I did feare prevention by some of your writers, if they should have gotten but some part of the newes by the tayle, and therefore though it be rude, let it passe with thy liking, and in so doing I shall like well of thee: but, how ever, I have not long to stay: if thou wilt be unnatural to thy countryman, thou maist, I must not loose my patrymonie; I am for Virginia againe, and so I will bid thee hartily farewell, with an honest verse:

As I came hether to see my native land,
To waft me backe lend me thy gentle hand.

Thy loving Country-man.
R. R.

* * *

Henricus Hondius, Map of Virginia, Atlas Major, 1630.

It is no idle fabulous tale, nor is it fayned newes:
For Truth herselfe is heere arriv’d, because you should not muse.
With her both Gates and Newport come, to tell Report doth lye:
Which did devulge unto the world, that they at Sea did dye.

Tis true that Eleaven monthes and more, these gallant worthy wights:
Was in the Shippe (Sea-venture nam’d) depriv’d Virginia’s sight.
And bravely did they glyde the maine, till Neptune gan to frowne:
As if a Courser prowdly backt, would throwe his ryder downe.

The Seas did rage, the windes did blowe, distressed were they then:
Their Ship did leake, her tacklings breake, in daunger were her men.
But heaven was Pylotte in this storme, and to an Iland nere,
Bermoothawes call’d, conducted then, which did abate their feare.

But yet these Worthies forced were, opprest with weather againe:
To runne their Ship betweene two Rockes, where she doth still remaine.
And then on shoare the Iland came, inhabited by Hogges:
Some Foule and Tortoyses there were, they only had one Dogge

To kill these swyne, to yeild them foode that little had to eate:
Their store was spent, and all things scant, alas they wanted meate.
A thousand hogges that dogge did kill, their hunger to sustaine:
And with such foode did in that Ile two and forty weekes remaine.

And there two gallant Pynases, did build of Seader-tree:
The brave Deliverance one was call’d, of seaventy Tonne was shee.
The other Patience had to name, her burthen thirty Tonne:
Two only of their men which there, pale death did overcome.

And for the losse of these two soules, which were accounted deere:
A Sonne and Daughter then was borne, and were Baptized there.
The two and forty weekes being past, they hoyst Sayle and away:
Their Ships with hogs well freighted were, their harts with mickle joy.

And so unto Virginia came, where these brave soldiers finde
The English-men opprest with greife and discontent in minde.
They seem’d distracted and forlorne, for those two worthyes losse:
Yet at their home returne they joyd, among’st them some were crosse.

And in the mid’st of discontent, came noble Delaware:
He heard the greifes on either part, and sett them free from care.
He comforts them and cheeres their hearts, that they abound with joy:
He feedes them full and feedes their soules, with Gods word every day.

A discreet counsell he creates, of men of worthy fame:
That noble Gates leiftenant was the Admirall had to name.
The worthy Sir George Somers knight, and others of commaund:
Maister Georg Pearcy, which is brother unto Northumberland.

Sir Fardinando Wayneman knight, and others of good fame:
That noble Lord, his company, which to Virginia came
And landed there: his number was One hundred Seaventy: then
Ad to the rest, and they make full, foure hundred able men.

Where they unto their labour fall, as men that meane to thrive:
Let’s pray that heaven may blesse them all and keep them long alive.
Those men that Vagrants liv’d with us, have there deserved well:
Their Governour writes in their praise, as divers Letters tel.

And to th’ Adventurers thus he writes, be not dismayd at all:
For scandall cannot doe us wrong, God will not let us fall.
Let England knowe our willingnesse, for that our worke is goode,
Wee hope to plant a Nation, where none before hath stood.

To glorifie the Lord tis done, and to no other end:
He that would crosse so good a worke, to God can be no friend.
There is no feare of hunger here, for Corne much store here growes,
Much fish the gallant Rivers yeild, tis truth, without suppose.

Great store of Fowle, of Venison, of Grapes and Mulberries,
Of Chesnuts, Walnuts, and such like, of fruits and Strawberries,
There is indeed no want at all: but some, condiciond ill,
That wish the worke should not goe on, with words doe seeme to kill.

And for an instance of their store, the noble Delaware,
Hath for the present hither sent, to testifie his care
In mannaging so good a worke, two gallant ships: by name
The Blessing and the Hercules, well fraught, and in the same

Two ships, are these commodities: Furres, Sturgeon, Caviare,
Blacke-walnut-tree, and some deale-boords, with such they laden are:
Some Pearle, some Wainscot and clapbords, with some Sassafras wood:
And Iron promist, for tis true, their Mynes are very good.

Then maugre scandall, false report, or any opposition
Th’ adventurers doe thus devulge: to men of good condition.
That he that wants shall have reliefe, be he of honest minde,
Apparel, coyne, or any thing, to such they will be kinde.

To such as to Virginia, do purpose to repaire:
And when that they shall thither come, each man shall have his share.
Day wages for the Laborer, and for his more content,
A house and garden plot shall have, besides, tis further ment

That every man shall have a part, and not thereof denaid:
Of generall profit, as if that he twelve pounds ten shillings paid,
And he that in Virginia, shall copper coyne receive.
For hyer or commodities, and will the country leave,

Upon delivery of such coyne, unto the Governour:
Shall by exchange at his returne, be by their Treasurer
Paid him in London at first sight, no man shall cause to grieve,
For tis their generall will and wish that every man should live.

The number of Adventurers, that are for this Plantation:
Are full eight hundred worthy men, some Noble, all of fashion.
Good, discreete, their worke is good, and as they have begun:
May Heaven assist them in their worke, and thus our newes is done.

FINIS.

Egyptian Building

Egyptian Building, Richmond, Virginia.
Egyptian Building, north-west (front) elevation.
Egyptian Building, from College Street, south-east (rear) elevation.
Cover of Sunday Magazine section of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, 19 July 1936, depicting the Egyptian Building.

Designed by noted Greek Revival architect Thomas S. Stewart of Philadelphia, the Egyptian Building is one of the finest examples of the rare “Egyptian Revival” style. The building was the first permanent home of the Medical Department of Hampden-Sydney College, which later became the Medical College of Virginia. The Egyptian Building has been in continuous use since its construction in 1845 and remains the oldest medical college building in the South. While the interior has since been extensively altered to accommodate administrative office space (with the notable exception of the 1930s lobby and ground floor lecture hall), the monumental exterior is extremely well preserved. The building once housed lecture rooms, a dissecting room, an infirmary, and hospital beds for medical and surgical cases.

Entrance to Egyptian Building, Richmond, Virginia.

In 1939, Richmond architects Baskervill & Son oversaw extensive restoration of the exterior of the building. Bernard Baruch, a wealthy industrialist, financed the restoration in memory of his father Dr. Simon Baruch, an 1862 graduate of the Medical College of Virginia and a Confederate surgeon in the War Between the States. The 270-seat Baruch Auditorium on the first floor dates to this renovation and is still in use. The restoration included remodeling the interior of the building to follow the Egyptian style. None of the original interiors survived.

Egyptian Building, detail of column capitals.
Egyptian Building, detail of east portico.
Egyptian Building, c. 1920s-1930s, with students or recent graduates?
Egyptian Building, prior to removal of ivy during 1939 restoration.

Detail of cast iron fence, with herm or mummy posts, by R. W. Barnes of Richmond.

What old Nassau Hall is to Princeton, what the Wren Building is to William and Mary, what the Rotunda is to the University of Virginia, the Egyptian Building is to the Medical College of Virginia. It is a shrine, a sanctuary of tradition, the physical embodiment of our genius. It is a spiritual heritage. In a world often accused of cold materialism, with an ideology of human self-sufficiency, and an adoration of objects that can be handled and seen, there is a need for things of the spirit, if science is to do more than make life safer, longer and more comfortable.

Dr. Wyndham Blanton at Founders’ Day exercises held at the Egyptian Building, 5 December 1940.

Mary Aggie and Benefit of Clergy in Virginia

Miserere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam;
et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum, dele iniquitatem meam.

Psalmus 50. iii.

LAWS OF VIRGINIA, MAY 1732−−5th & 6th GEORGE II.

CHAP. VII.

An Act for settling some doubts and differences of opinion, in relation to the benefit of Clergy; for allowing the same to Women; and taking away of Reading; and to disable certain Persons, therein mentioned, to be Witnesses.

I. WHEREAS it has been held, That where, by an act of parliament, made in England before the settlement of this colony, the benefit of clergy, as it is called, hath been taken away from any offences, that persons committing the like offences in this colony, are excluded by virtue thereof; but this opinion, if it were nicely examined, might possibly be questioned: And for settling the law in that point,

II. Be it enacted, by the Lieutenant-Governor, Council and Burgesses, of this present General Assembly, and by the authority of the same, That where, by any act of the parliament of England, made before the fourth year of the reign of the late king James the first, the benefit of clergy is taken away from any offence, the same shall hereafter be adjudged to be taken away from the like offence, committed in this colony, in respect to principals, and accessories standing mute, and challenging a greater number of the jury than the law allows.

III. And whereas the old distinction, of allowing the benefit of clergy, to men only, and excluding women, and putting the offender, being a layman, to read, hath been taken away by the parliament of England: Be it enacted, That where a man, being convicted of any felony, may demand the benefit of his clergy, if a woman be convicted of the same, or the like offence, upon her prayer to have the benefit of this act, judgment of death shall not be given against her upon such conviction, nor execution awarded upon any outlawry, for such offence; but she shall suffer the same punishment as a man should suffer, that has the benefit of his clergy allowed him in the like case; That is to say, shall be burnt in the hand by the jailor in open court, and shall be afterwards dealt with, as a man in the like case might be. And if any person be convicted of a felony, for which he ought to have the benefit of clergy, and shall pray to have the benefit of this act, he shall not be required to read, but without any reading, shall be allowed, taken, and reputed to be, and punished as a clerk convict; which shall be as effectual, to all intents and purposes, and as advantageous to him, as if he had read as a clerk; any other law or statute, to the contrary hereof, in any wise, notwithstanding. Clergy allowed to women.

IV. And whereas a question hath lately arisen, touching the right of negros, to the benefit of clergy: for the determination thereof, Be it further enacted, That when any negro, mulatto, or Indian whatsoever, shall be convicted of any offence within the benefit of clergy, judgment of death shall not be given against him or her, upon such conviction; but he or she, shall be burnt in the hand in open court, by the jailor, and suffer such other corporal punishment, as the court shall think fit to inflict; except where such negro, mulatto, or Indian, shall be convicted of manslaughter, or the felonious breaking and entring any house in the night-time, or for breaking and entring in the day-time any house, and taking from thence any goods or chattels whatsoever, to the value of five shillings sterling; and where he or she hath once had the benefit of this act; and in those cases, such negro, mulatto, or Indian, shall suffer death, and be excluded from the benefit of this act.

V. And whereas negros, mulattos, and Indians, have lately been frequently allowed to give testimony as lawful witnesses in the general court, and other courts of this colony, when they have professed themselves to be christians, and been able to give some account of the principles of the christian religion: but forasmuch as they are people of such base and corrupt natures, that the credit of their testimony cannot be certainly depended upon, and some juries have altogether rejected their evidence, and others have given full credit thereto: For preventing the mischiefs that may possibly happen by admitting such precarious evidence,

VI. Be it further enacted, That no negro, mulatto, or indian, either a slave or free, shall hereafter be admitted in any court of this colony, to be sworn as a witness, or give evidence in any cause whatsoever, except upon the trial of a slave, for a capital offence; in which such case they shall be allowed to give evidence, in the manner directed by one act of assembly, made in the ninth year of the reign of the late king George, intituled, An Act directing the trial of Slaves committing Capital Crimes; and for the more effectual punishing Conspiracies and Insurrections of them; and for the better government of Negros, Mulattos, and Indians, bond or free.