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Building and Grounds

A Self Guided Tour to Interpret the Four Centuries of Change in the Brick Walls of Historic St. Mary's Whitechapel. The Story of the Bricks and the Architectural Design of this Colonial House of Worship.  


            The ancient art of making bricks was known in Babylon over 6,000 years ago. Bricks were made in Egypt according to biblical reference Exodus 1:14.


 The early settlers to Colonial America brought with them the knowledge of brick making and laying. Ananias Dare, father of Virginia Dare (Aug. 18, 1587) was a bricklayer on Roanoke Island (The Lost Colony).


Clay, the gooey substance found in surface deposits of the earth, was mixed with sand and water, shaped or molded into blocks, and then air or sun dried and baked in ovens called kilns. The product is now a stone like, weather resistant building block. Often in Colonial America brick were made on or near the building site. Clay varies in composition from one locality to another and accounts for some color difference. The maker used a variety of techniques to glaze, color or shape the bricks for special use. The bricklayer joins bricks together with mortar (a mixture of lime, sand and water) in an arrangement called bonds.


The walls of St. Mary’s are two feet thick, twenty-four feet high and in the Flemish Bond. This bond is a staggered interlocking QUINCUNX arrangement in blocks of five as found on the ‘5’ of a playing card. The bricks you see lengthwise are called stretchers and are parallel to the ground. The endwise bricks are called headers and are perpendicular to the stretchers. This is a picture of a section of the wall of St. Mary’s.


Bonds vary in the water table around the bottom of the Church. The bricks vary is size. Use scale to measure as you move around the building.


Following the Revolutionary War several causes contributed to the disuse and maintenance neglect of the Church. The east west ends deteriorated beyond repair and were removed. The transepts were joined together probably with bricks from the east and west ends in 1830.


North Wall:

            1740 (29x24x2’ thick) Door of the north transept (center) two gallery windows, corners of rubbed brick to smooth and obtain uniform red color Flemish Bond, 1830 chancel moved to N end door area brick enclosed frame Vestry Room with door in wall to church & door to yard were added. 1960s these additions were removed.


West Wall:

            Three sections (64x24x2)

(1)  1740 -NW corner 171/2 ‘ to a vertical seam (joint), 1 window west wall of north transept Flemish Bond

(2)  1830- Center between vertical seams 29’ Flemish Bond, two windows and door Parch added in 1900s, note the different spellings of the name of the church.  12 paces from vertical seams west markers of the west corners of 1669 building.

(3)  1740- SW corner 171/2’ to vertical seam, 1 window the west wall of south transept Flemish Bond, bench mark is located near SW corner of water table (52.2’ above sea level)


South Wall:

            1740 (29x24x2’) door of south transept, rubbed brick corners Flemish Bond. Oval brick patches above door were windows to south gallery (which is still in use).


East Wall:

            Three sections (64x24x2’)

     (1) 1740- SE corner 171/2 to vertical seam, 1 window the east wall of south transept Flemish Bond.

     (2) 1830- Center between vertical seams 29’ Flemish Bond, tow windows between these 2 new brick patches Location of 2 cement chimneys (removed about 1960’s when stoves were no longer used) 6 paces from the seams east to markers of east corners of 1669 building.

      (3) 1740- NE corner 171/2 to vertical seams, 1 window east wall of north transept Flemish Bond.