Located at the corner of Princess Anne and George Streets, this church was built by Colonel Henry Willis in 1732. The current structure was built in 1849 and is the third church to be constructed on the premises. Colonel John Spotswood, son of the colonial governor, donated the church's original bell in 1751. The City Council placed a clock in the bell tower in 1851.

St. George's also has several rather unique distinctions that set it apart from the other congregations of Fredericksburg. Foremost, it was the first church, which had been established at the original settlement of 'Germanna' in 1720 as "St. George's Parish" by the House of Burgesses of Colonial Virginia. Eight years later, the assembly formally established the City of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Therefore St. George's is the only church in the entire city to be founded, actually mandated, by English rule.

Along with the English Church, came English rules and regulations. Many of the punishments for breaking the covenants of the church were also bought over from England to the New World. This included public ridicules and non-lethal tortures, which were used to enforce both civic and congregational codes. The Act of Assembly in 1705 established a strict list of "Religious Offenses" and appropriate punishments.

Despite its strict code of conduct and ties back to England, St. George's prospered and grew into a bustling church in early Virginia. During the Colonial Period, the church was responsible for the health and welfare of orphans, widows and the sick. It also assisted the poor and downtrodden. As a spiritually educating pillar in the community, St. George's also established both male and female charity schools.

Throughout the mid-late 1700's members and friends of the Washington family begin attending services at St. George's. This includes William Paul, brother to America's father of naval warfare Commodore John Paul Jones, as well as George Washington's brother Charles, and brother in-law Fielding Lewis, who also served the church as a vestryman. Jones would not be the only congregational member with military ties as blood-ancestors of the WWII hero Gen. George Patton also attended the church.


St. George's was particularly threatened by Union canoneers who were positioned on the bluff just behind Chatham Manor. The towering green steeple became a favorite target for the gunners and the structure would eventually be hit over 25 times during the course of the battle. This slide is a modern shot . You can see the two towers in the distance that made great targets.

A Union artillerist recalled a comrade's attempt to destroy the Episcopal church's clock. He wrote: An officer of another battery remarked that the first shot he put into the city should pass through the clock; in fact, he proposed to breach the wall in such a way that the clock would fall into the body of the church. He explained that he felt impelled to this act through a sense of predestined responsibility.

One of my very favorite quotes, not only from my book, but also from all quotes I've read in all of my studies, came from another Yankee soldier stationed up in the tower at St. Georges. He recalled: Orders came to withdraw the pickets from Fredericksburg. I was in the church steeple, and had been forgotten. When I came down at night, and went to my old position in the rifle pits, I found that my whole company was gone. I was holding the town myself.


Can you imagine being stationed up there for hours and when you finally came down, you realized that your army was gone? At least he had a great view. Following the battles St. George's was commandeered by Union forces. As a result many of the church's possessions were stolen. One theft that missed detection resulted in the story of the stolen Communion Set.

In 1827, Mr. John Gray, Esquire, presented a very special Communion collection to the church in appreciation of their charity and ministry. During the chaos that ensued following the shelling, invasion, and occupation of Fredericksburg, Federal troops, who looted much of the town before their commanders were able to secure order, stole this specially engraved set that had been hidden in the church's rafters.

According to an article printed in the local newspapers titled "Old Communion Set Taken In War"; the pieces were then separated and taken north. Following the conclusion of the conflict, several pieces were hastily located and identified by their engravings. The Companion Cup and Flagon were quickly returned to the church thanks to the persistence and efforts of the Reverend Maurey, the rector at St. George's parish at the time. The Paten, which held the bread in the Holy Communion Service, was also detected years later at a pawnshop in New York City. The central piece to the collection, a silver Wine Chalice, remained missing for sixty-nine years.

In 1931, the whereabouts of the fourth and final piece remained an unsolved mystery until a communication was sent to the Reverend Dudley Boogher from a Mrs. L.A. Thayer of Wollaston Massachusetts. In her letter, Ms. Wollaston stated that she had in her possession a silver communion chalice, which had come to her from a relative with ties to the Union.

She added that the cup had a personalized inscription that read, "Presented by John Gray. Esquire. to the Episcopal Church, St. George's Parish, Fredericksburg, VA A.D. 1827." She then not so graciously offered to return the cup if in fact, the church was still in existence and they were able to offer her a suitable reward. After several negotiations, as well as the threat of involving the authorities to recover the 'stolen property,' the chalice was rightfully returned to St. George's parish on June 22nd.

The cup appeared to be in perfect condition and was used for Communion Service the following Sunday much to the delight of the congregation, who had been anticipating the return of the entire set since it first went missing in 1862.

Getting back to the war, as the conflict progressed, a movement referred to as the "Great Revival" took place in the South. Beginning in 1863, this event was in full progress throughout the Army of Northern Virginia. Before the revival was interrupted by U.S. Grant's attack in May 1864, approximately seven thousand soldiers-ten percent of Lee's force-were reportedly converted.

Historian Dr. Gardiner H. Shattuck, Jr. reported that the "best estimates of conversions in the Union forces place the figure between 100,000 and 200,000 men; about five to ten percent of all individuals engaged in the conflict. In the smaller Confederate Army, at least 100,000 were converted. Since these numbers included only "conversions" and did not represent the number of soldiers actually swept up in the revivals, which was a more substantial figure, the impact of revivals during the Civil War surely was tremendous."

Much of this revival on a local level took place at St. George's. One of the participating ministers, the Reverend William Jones D.D., recalled his experiences in his memoirs. He wrote:

Long before the appointed hour the spacious Episcopal church, kindly tended by its rector, is filled - nay, packed-to its utmost capacity-lower floor, galleries, aisles, chancel, pulpit steps and vestibule-while hundreds turn disappointed away, unable to find even standing room… I remember that I preached to this vast congregation the very night before Hooker crossed the river, bringing the battles of Second Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville - that, in my closing appeal, I urged them to accept Christ then and there, because they did not know but that they were hearing their "last invitation," and that sure enough we were aroused before the day the next morning by the crossing of the enemy.

In a personal letter written from Dr. Harry Lovell, who served with the Confederate Army, local citizens and soldiers alike benefited greatly by the presence of this much-needed revival. To his sweetheart the doctor sent:

For the last week or two there has been a good revival going on at the Episcopal Church. Several in which there were a great many soldiers received into the church and baptized. The city presents a baleful appearance. There is no estimating the suffering caused by the shelling of the place. There are hundreds of men who were yard lively who are now reduced to beggary. The poor women and children are starving in every quarter. It is or ought to be a shame in any nation to create such suffering…

I have only just begun to study this spiritual movement and I will be speaking on the subject this August up at the Manassas Museum. From what I have gathered so far, it was an amazing example of the power of faith, hope, and charity. That said, let's move on to our next church, which has obvious ties to our church here at Spotsy Presbyterian. That is of course Fredericksburg Presbyterian.