History of Hickory Neck


1653: Blisland Parish was organized: the Virginia colony then had a State Church.

1721: The parish had two churches: a Lower (the easternmost) one and an Upper one (the westernmost).

1725: Blisland Parish gained territory when neighboring Wilmington Parish (to the south and west) became extinct.

1734: Workmen were hired to build a new Lower Church upon an acre of land donated by Mrs. Mary Holdcroft of Hickory Neck Plantation.  The new church, which was brick and measured 26 ft. by 60 ft., became known as Hickory Neck Church.  It was built on an east-west axis, in accord with Anglican tradition.

1738: Trees were planted in the churchyard, most likely some of the stately walnut trees we see today.

1742: A brick wall, 100 ft. by 100 ft., was built around the church.

1774: Hickory Neck was enlarged through the addition of a north transept.  If a south transept been added, the church would have been cruciform like Bruton Parish.  Today, we worship in the north transept.

1774: Conjectural rendering of original church showing 1774 addition, by Sidney Eugene King, commissioned by the vestry c.1970.  King referenced an archaeological site plan showing both the oldest part of the church, built in 1734, and the added north transept of 1774.  He also referenced Blisland Parish’s colonial vestry records, which describe the building’s exterior and interior.

1781-1782: American soldiers camped at Hickory Neck during April 1781 and in August the church became an army hospital.  The French Army and its baggage trains passed by the church in 1781 and 1782, enroute to and from Yorktown.  Around this time, worship services ceased being held at Hickory Neck.

1784: Virginia’s State Church was Disestablished and unused, church-owned property reverted to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

1792-1799: Blisland Parish’s rector died and the parish entered a period of dormancy.

1825: The main body of Hickory Neck Church (the portion built in 1734) was demolished and the south end of the north transept, built in 1774, was extended 10 ft. and bricked up.  Through this means, the abandoned church was converted into a public school, Hickory Neck Academy.  Clergy of various denominations conducted services in the Academy building on an irregular basis.

1862: On the night of May 6, 1862, during the Peninsular Campaign, Confederate Captain John Pelham and the Stuart Horse Artillery camped at Hickory Neck.

1871-1883: The Hickory Neck Academy, which was in disrepair when the Civil War ended, was refurbished. It was used as a public school until September 1908, when Toano High School opened its doors.

1912: The James City County School Board deeded Hickory Neck to the trustees of the Hickory Neck Protestant Episcopal Church and the Rev. E. Ruffin Jones of Bruton Parish began campaigning for the ancient colonial church to be restored to ecclesiastical use.  Regular worship services resumed at Hickory Neck in 1915.

1917: Hickory Neck Church was reconsecrated.

1973: Hickory Neck Church was added to the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Registry, in recognition of its national significance as a historic property.

1980: A parish house, now designated the Wilkinson Center for Christian Leadership, was built to accommodate a Sunday School and other activities.

1983: Hickory Neck hired its first full time rector since the colonial period.

1987: The 100th member joined modern Hickory Neck.

1989: Hickory Neck Church attained parish status for the first time since the 1790s.

1999: The expanded parish house was blessed by the Bishop.

2003: Hickory Neck acquired 9.9 acres of property adjacent to the churchyard, creating a 12 1/2 acre campus.

2005: Construction of new church began.

2006: New church was consecrated on June 24th and Hickory Neck’s first full-time associate rector was called.

2008: Historic Hickory Neck’s interior was renovated and its structural fabric was stabilized.

To obtain a complimentary copy of an annotated history of Hickory Neck, please contact the Parish Administrator.

List of Clergy Since 1680

Clergy of Blisland Parish’s Churches, Including Hickory Neck Church.

Bob Gay, Deacon / December 2018 to Present

Charlie Bauer, Curate / July 2016 to Present

Jennifer Andrews-Weckerly, Rector / April 2016 to Present
Henry McQueen, Associate / July 2012 to April 2016
Maria A. Kane, Curate / January 2011 to August 2011
Lauren McDonald, Associate / July 2008 to October 2011
Anne Dieterle, Associate / July 2005 toMarch 2008
Michael L. Delk, Rector / March 2002 to July 2014
Edwin L. Bishop, Interim Rector / August 2000 to March 2002
James W. Kellett, Rector / January 1987 to April 2000
George Joel Smith, Vicar / January 1976 to July 1985

J. Harmon Smith, Vicar / Advent II, 1969 to December 1975
Carter H. Harrison, Vicar / September 1966 to June 1969
Thomas G. Garner, Vicar / October 1964
Edward W. Eanes, Vicar / July 1963 to October 1964
Mortimer T. Bowman, Vicar / December 1961 to June 1963
Cotesworth Pinckney Lewis / December 1961 (supply)
Charles P. Sheerin, Vicar / November 1958 to July 1961
Cotesworth Pinckney Lewis / April 1958 to November 1958
Edgar C. Burnz  / January 1958 to April 1958 (supply)
Cotesworth Pinckney Lewis / January 1957 to January 1958
Arthur Pierce Middleton / December 1951 to May 1954
Francis Hopkinson Craighill / May 1940 to December 1951
W. C. Wilson / January 1933
W. A. R. Goodwin / September 1932
John B. Bentley / August 1926
E. Ruffin Jones / May 1915
Price Davies / 1763 - 1792
Chicheley Thacker / 1730 - 1762
William Le Neve / 1729 (supply)
David Mossom / 1729 (supply)
Daniel Taylor / 1704 - 1729
Thomas Taylor / 1680