History of Pohick

History of Pohick

Free admission, self-guided tours, 9:00 am – 4:30 pm daily.
Docents are available for groups after Sunday services, on the first Saturday of the month at 1:00 pm, or by appointment through the Church Office.

The History of Pohick Church

Colonial Origins

Rightly called “the Mother Church of Northern Virginia,” Pohick was the first permanent church in the colony to be established north of the Occoquan River, sometime prior to 1724. Originally called “the Occoquan Church,” it was soon referred to as “Pohick Church” because of its proximity to Pohick Creek. George Washington’s map of the area locates this long-lost wooden edifice near a site now occupied by Cranford Methodist Church.

Baptismal font

The only artifact surviving from this period is the baptismal font, which experts from the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford identified as a large Medieval mortar. Likely dating from the eleventh or twelfth centuries, its large size suggests that it was taken from a monastery kitchen in England. After the closure of the monasteries during the Reformation, many such articles were shipped to the colonies for liturgical use. This pattern probably explains how this ancient artifact came to be used as a baptismal font at the earlier Pohick Church. Since its restoration in 1890, the font has continued to be used for baptisms to this very day.

In 1732, the Virginia General Assembly established Truro Parish, defining it as all the lands in the colony above the Occoquan River, extending to the western frontier. As the only church within these boundaries, Pohick became the Parish Church of the newly formed district. Colonists residing within the parish soon elected twelve men to serve on the governing board known as the Vestry. Shortly thereafter, vestryman Augustine Washington (father of George Washington) successfully sponsored the nomination of Dr. Charles Green to serve as the parish’s first permanent minister, known as the Rector. The preserved colonial Vestry Book records this and other vestry deeds during this period.

Over the next several decades, the Vestry and Rector provided for the spiritual welfare of not only those attending Pohick Church, but also colonists who were moving into the northern and western reaches of the parish. During this period, they built chapels and/or provided nearby worship services for these parishioners. These congregations and their houses of worship would eventually become known as The Falls Church (1733 & 1763, in the present-day city named after it), Goose Creek Chapel (1733/34, near present-day Leesburg; lost), Rocky Run Church (1745/46, in present-day Centreville; lost), Christ Church (1751, Alexandria; built by residents of Alexandria, serviced by Dr. Green) and Payne’s Church (1766, in present-day Fairfax Station at the site of Jerusalem Baptist Church; destroyed in 1863).

U.S. Army Old Guard playing at Pohick over Christmas

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