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St. Thomas Church Altar, ca. 1900

By the late nineteenth century, the altar area of St. Thomas Church had been renovated to include, among other things, stained glass windows as well as Victorian style altar rails and oil lamps. The picture on the postcard was taken by Bath photographer and souvenir shop owner Thomas R. Draper; the text on the back, by the unidentified “J. N. B.,” highlights that Bath tourists were as interested in the town’s legendary pirate connections as in its church history. This picture shows St. Thomas Church very much as it would have been when Mary Laughinghouse described it in her 1892 diary entry.

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Image(s) from Photograph
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History Sketch


St. Thomas’ Parish was organized with a Vestry in 1701. The Parish was partly maintained by assistance from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, of England, until long after the erection of the present building in 1734. In 1715 the Assembly passed an Act causing the Parish to consist of “the remaining part of Pamlico River and the Branches thereof, commonly called Beaufort precinct, to be one Parish by the name of St. Thomas Parish in this Act.” This Act named the following as Vestrymen: “The Honorable Chas. Eden, Esq., Col. Christopher Gale, Tobias Knight, Esq,, Mr. John Porter, Dan Richardson, Esq., Mr. Thomas Worsely, Capt. John Drinkwater, Capt. Jno. Clark, Mr. John Adams, Mr. Patrick Maule, Mr. Thomas Harding, Mr. John Lillington.” [sic] St. Thomas is the oldest Church in the State. The brick of which it is built were in all probability brought from England. People are said to be buried under its pews as was the custom in olden days. One slab, of the many formerly there, remains on the wall to mark such burial. The deed for the land and the Old Bible are interesting. The history of the Church is tied up with that of the town of Bath, which was founded by John Lawson, Joel Martin, and Simon Alderson and chartered in 1705. Many stories of the Indians and the pirate Teach, better known as “Blackbeard” are associated with the place.

J. N. B.

Photographed by T. R. DRAPER, Bath, N, C, [sic]

Location: Special Collections, Joyner Library, East Carolina University
Call Number: Inglis Fletcher Papers, #21.13.d
Collection: Inglis Fletcher Papers

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