Old White Marsh Chapel

THE OLD WHITE MARSH CHAPEL is located in Talbot County, in the eastern shore area of southern Maryland, between  the port villages of Oxford and Dover.  The latter is now known as the Lost City of Dover, since its exact location is no longer known.  However, it was an important port in its day.  The chapel was also approximately seven miles from Oxford and a quarter of a mile from Hambleton.  I was able to find precious little historical information about the village of Hambleton and, thus, I don't know for sure if it existed yet when this story took place.  I took the liberty of assuming that it did.

The chapel, where John and Sarah Clark were married in A Willing Heart, is the oldest on the Eastern Shore to have also held worship services in recent times.  It was built of bricks hauled across the Atlantic Ocean from England, as mentioned by John in the story, and was completed in 1665, about 20 years before.  It served the Oxford area for over 200 years.  It's denomination was Episcopal (formerly Anglican/Church of England). In about 1897, it was destroyed by fire, though its partial walls still remain.

Interestingly, the ancient communion service is still used in a nearby church, and the old mahogany alms box was also preserved.  Back in the day the alms box was used, not only for donations, but also to hit worshipers with if they fell asleep during the sermon!  The congregation dwindled as other churches were built in the area that were more accessible.  As a result, the chapel was not attended from 1858 to 1896.  However, in 1897 the yard and church were cleaned in preparation for attendance to once again commence.  Sadly, a farmer was burning brush nearby, possibly the very brush that had just been cleared from the churchyard, and the fire got away from him and caught the ancient church afire, resulting in its destruction that year.  Remnants of its brick walls still remain, as do some very old gravestones of some of the colonists that had attended services there.  A fascinating and thorough write-up, from which much of the above information was obtained, can be found here.

I can easily envision Sarah taking in the sight of the White Marsh Chapel as she and John approached, while her fears mounted at the thought of marrying a stranger.  It must have been a formidable structure in its day, set against the backdrop of the Maryland wilderness.

This photo is courtesy of the Talbot County Free Library and I first discovered it on the website of the author of Haunted Eastern Shore.  You can imagine my excitement!