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Blandford Church

( Originally Published 1932 )



On the way from Petersburg to the battlefield of the Crater is a large cemetery, within which can be seen a little church of unmistakable colonial architecture. This is old Bristol Parish Church, commonly known as Old Blandford, now restored in all faithfulness but with a newness that seems in curious contrast with its almost venerable shape.

The little church, with its three wings and Gothic roof, is surrounded by the remnants of a brick wall which was the original churchyard. The battered wall tells only too eloquently of the storm of shot and shell that swept over the building in the closing days of the War Between the States.

Indeed so ancient is Old Blandford Church that it was given up as a place of public worship in 1800. For more than a century it lay neglected. In 1901 the city turned over the ruins of the old church to be used as a mortuary chapel-a memorial to the Southern soldiers buried around and near its battle-scarred walls. The Ladies' Memorial Association took up the work of restoring it, and so successfully did they accomplish their object that it is now one of the most beautiful places in all the United States. Eleven exquisite memorial windows light the interior of the chapel which is in the form of a cross. There are three entrances and exits. The pulpit is near the south entrance, and the choir loft is over the west entrance. Above the north entrance are two smaller memorial windows, one the gift of Maryland, the other of Arkansas, in memory of the soldiers who fell in that vicinity in the siege of Petersburg. At the west entrance is a memorial window corresponding to the Arkansas and Maryland windows, which was placed there by the Memorial Association of Petersburg. In addition to these, bronze and marble tablets adorn the walls.

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