Facts about historic church
The Daily Reflector
Sunday, August 18, 2019
BATH — Some facts about St. Thomas Episcopal Church:
- In 1823 St. Thomas was formally accepted into the Diocese of North Carolina and consecrated in 1826.
- Until the Civil War, St. Thomas was served by at least 15 clergymen.
- In 1840 a fierce storm blew off the roof and damaged the interior. As part of the restoration, new furniture and fixtures were installed reflecting the Victorian era. Some of these items remain and are now historic as well.
- The church has in its possession a number of artifacts:
A silver chalice engraved with John Garzia’s name, believed to be the first rector of the church.
Two silver candelabra presented by King George II in 1740 when the church was consecrated
The Queen Anne Bell, cast in 1732, bears the inscription “Cast in England in 1732 — Recast in New York in 1872," making the bell 21 years older than the Liberty Bell, which was cast in 1753.
A Bible printed in England in 1703, one of the oldest in the state, presented to the Vestry of St. Thomas by Samuel Ashe in memory of his ancestors, who were prominent members of the Parish when they lived in Bath. In all probability, the Bible was used when services were held in member’s homes before the present building was erected.
- The church’s structure is similar to that of other Anglican churches of the period, but with rustic features indicative of the colonial frontier.
- The old brick walls of the church are two feet thick at the base, and were brought over from England. On either side of the doorway are markers in memory of John Lawson, Joel Martin, Simon Alderson and Thomas Boyd — the founders of Bath.
- The floor of the church consists of the original English tiles, under which are the graves of many early settlers. Until a short while ago the tiles were laid in sand, presumably to make it easier to bury the dead. In 1932, a newspaper article said there were as many as 60 persons buried under the floor at St. Thomas.
- An archaeological study conducted on the north side of the church in 1993 revealed 11 unmarked gravesites dating from the earliest years of the church. “It can now be assumed that many other such graves, interred before the 1820’s, surround the church,” the study said.