Communion Service – 1649/50
Grace Church’s ancient and beautiful communion service is worthy of considerable note. It is one of the oldest Anglican-Episcopal communion service in the commonwealth of Virginia.
The flagon and chalice inscribed with “Hampton parish in Yorke County in Verginia” has adorned the altar table almost consistently from the earliest days to the present in York County. Hampton parish was one of the very early Anglican churches in York County dating back to 1634 and was originally called Chischiak (sometimes “Cheescake”), a place first noted on John Smith’s 1624 map. The parish was later termed the Hampton Parish in 1643 (not to be confused with the city of Hampton). According to nineteenth century Virginia Episcopal Bishop William Meade, the silver was the gift of Col. Nathaniel Bacon, Sr. (1620-1692), whose plantation was at Kings Creek, York County and who served as a colonial government official including acting Governor of the colony. He is not to be confused with his relative of Bacon’s Rebellion fame. Bishop Meade’s account, unfortunately, cannot be substantiated.
Soon after the establishment of Yorktown in 1691 as a major part town, the parishes of Hampton and Yorke (present day Coast Guard Training Center) were combined to form the York-Hampton Parish ca 1704. In 1848 the name of the church was changed to Grace Church. We will never know the complete story of how the communion service survivwed the American Revolution, the dissolution of the Anglican Church, and the Yorktown fire of 1814. The communion service’s survival is a testament of the strong faith of the people of York County.
The initials T.G. engraved on the service stand for Thomas Garrett, a London silversmith, whose first recorded silver work is 1618. The maker’s date of 1649/50 is engraved on the silver. The minister at Hampton Parish at that time was Oxford University trained Rev. Thomas Hampton, who is recorded as coming to Virginia in 1637.
Today the ancient communion service is used for communion at Grace Church monthly and for other special occasions as a Christian link between the small, frontier church of the 1th century and the populous, ever-growing suburban church of today.
Margaret Cook and Jean Kirkham