All the facts for this post came from http://www.brutonparish.org/history You should check it out. My fascination with Bruton Parish began in 1985 when my husband and I were first married. We used to stroll along Colonial Williamsburg streets on Sunday afternoons. It almost always included a trip to the cemetery at this beautiful church. We would read the epitaphs on the tombstones and walk the grounds. It is not that large of a cemetery, but it is very beautiful (not sure everyone would use that term for a cemetery, but I would in this case).
The parish is the product of a couple church merges until it became Bruton Parish in 1654. In 1706 the church was enlarged and built in the shape of a cross. The church prospered for many years until a decline in its fortunes began after the Virginia House of Burgesses disestablished the Anglican Church by ending tax support in 1776. Just 4 years later Richmond replaced Williamsburg as the state capital significantly impacting the church's membership numbers. It soon fell into disrepair, but managed to provide service as a hospital in 1862 for wounded Confederate soldiers. It took a long time for recovery after the Civil War.
Some repairs were done from 1894 to 1902, but real progress was not made until the late 1920's to 30's when Reverend W. A. R. Goodwin enlisted John D. Rockefeller, Jr to restore Williamsburg to its colonial appearance. What an amazing feat! I had much more history about this in my original manuscript, but word count and "unnecessary" back story can be a bit of an issue for novels (it was hard to let it go, but now I have this page on my website to pay this endeavor tribute).
Do you know, I never stepped foot into any of the colonial Williamsburg buildings until I visited (after moving to Southwest Virginia) during a nursing conference about 3 or 4 years ago? When we were in our early years of marriage and starting a family money was tight, and I just could not justify buying a pass to tour. But, what I learned is that it is so worth it! The historical interpreters in Williamsburg are phenomenal. The homes and shops and tea house and gaol (jail) and apothecary (take a breath) and so much more are fascinating places with a diverse history that has a story to be shared by the historical interpreters who now share dialogue about all the different types of people who made up the capital city during the colonial era. That trip helped me so much in writing the trilogy (not so obvious in the first book). It was then that I learned about Black Beard's men being hung there in 1719, and that Salem, Massachusetts was not the only place where witch trials were held.
A trip to Williamsburg (including the tour packages) is a trip to make; although, you will not find a live oak draped in roses within the walls of Bruton Parish Cemetery or a grave marked by a large black stone. But, you can find lovely benches where you can sit, close your eyes, and let your imagination rule the moment.