Between 1611 and 1613, as the colonists moved west from Jamestown, several small parishes were formed-Weyanoke, Wallingford, and Wilmington, among others. These parishes merged and became Westover parish. Therefore, we recognize the beginning of Westover parish as 1613. This was prior to the first House of Burgesses’ recognition of Westover in 1625 because the original parishes would have been recognized by The Church of England. In 1724 Westover Parish became and remains coterminous with Charles City County.
The predecessor of the existing Westover Church was constructed between 1630 and 1637 on Westover plantation. About 1730 the construction of the present Westover Church was completed at its present site on Herring Creek about 1 ½ miles north of Westover mansion.
The ending of support by public taxation for the Episcopal Church at the start of the Revolutionary War in 1776, followed by the disestablishment of the Church in 1784, and the War of 1812, the widespread prejudice against the Church as an English loyalist institution, and a general decline of interest in religion, “culminated in the period when ‘the churches moldered away’, bereft of ministers, congregations, parish lands, and financial support.”
For almost thirty years after 1803, Westover Church was abandoned, desecrated by misuse as a barn during part of that time, and services of the Protestant Episcopal Church of Virginia lapsed completely in Charles City County.
However, about 1833 religious services were revived through sending a missionary to the county, the Reverend Parke Farley Berkeley. At this time the Church structure was repaired and restored, principally through the efforts of the families of Berkeley and Shirley, the Harrisons and the Carters. Badly wrecked by Federal troops, through their misuse of the buildings as a stable during the Civil War, Westover Church was once more restored to service in 1867 and has been used faithfully ever since.
Worshipers at Westover have included farmers, plantation owners, slaves, and Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Harrison, Tyler and Theodore Roosevelt.
The church is open for visitors on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by appointment. Please contact the office during normal office hours if another time is needed.