Our History

From the Heart of the Lord and the heart of the forest grew the sanctuary in which we are now seated.  Its beginning was in an earlier century in a frame building used by a different denomination.  The Revolutionary War had come to an end, leaving a chapel-of-ease.  This had been built as a place of worship for the Episcopalians who lived a great distance from the mother church.

     After the departure of the Church of England, those of the area who were of Presbyterian preference began to use the deserted chapel.

     On June 2, 1825, Winchester Presbytery took this chapel with its congregation under her care and direction as Yellow Chapel Church.

     Whether the “yellow” in the name dictates the type of wood of which it was constructed or the application of a coloring material, we do not know.

     The time came when the little church was not large enough to accommodate its growing congregation.

     William and John Irvine, who had been attending Presbyterian services in Fredericksburg, realized the local situation, and with their family and slave labor they led others in the community in building a new sanctuary of native brick in 1858-59.

     Hartwood Church is located approximately fifty-five feet east of where the Yellow Chapel Church is thought to have stood.

     Soon came the Civil War when the Union used the new church as a hospital and cavalry headquarters. February 25, 1863, was the date of the Battle of Hartwood Church, the largest engagement fought on Stafford soil; and it was a Confederate victory under the command of General Fitzhugh Lee.

     Fighting ceased, and in 1868, East Hanover Presbytery officially named the church on the hill, Hartwood Presbyterian Church.

Years passed and the centuries increased in number.  Hartwood Church’s pulpit has been filled by able Christian ministers.  In 1950, the size of the building grew by an addition to the back of the sanctuary.  In 2000, the congregation, with the help of the Lord, added the free-standing Christian Educational Center for the furtherance of His work.

     Although the Hartwood Church is an American Presbyterian Reformed Historical Site and is listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places, let us never forget her primary purpose, which is to provide a place to worship God and to receive His message to us through Jesus Christ, our Savior.  Long may she serve!

–Dr. Stewart Jones
January 2005

Even more of our wonderful history can be found here! 

Major events in Hartwood’s History

“ONE OF A KIND” Free Lance Star Article April 23, 2005