Our Parish History

Church Historical PhotoSt. James’ Episcopal Church and Shelburne Parish trace their history in Loudoun County back to the 1700s.  The first church in Loudoun County, called the “Chapel of Ease for the comfort of the people above the Goose Creek,” was built in 1733.  Shelburne Parish was created out of the western portion of the Parish of Cameron in 1770. Before the establishment of Shelburne Parish, the Chapel of Ease was served by visiting ministers. Its first rector was the Rev. Dr. David Griffith, a distinguished churchman, who served from 1771 to 1776. A leader in the early Anglican church in Virginia, he was, in 1786, the first man elected bishop in America. Unfortunately he died before funds were found to send him to England for his consecration.

In 1812, a building was erected on Church Street, and services were held there for 83 years. Construction of a columbarium was completed in 2011 on this site. In 1895, the cornerstone was laid for the present building.  The first service was held in 1897, and the church was consecrated in 1905. The building was damaged extensively by a fire in 1929. Fortunately, because of the thick stone walls, the basic structure withstood the flames and the Nave was restored to its present form.

St. James’ Church has been expanded several times.  The addition of the Fellowship Hall occurred in 1931, and was extended in the 1950s.  In 1972, the Janney House was remodeled and connected to the church by the construction of a stone and glass arcade; the Church Office, meeting spaces, and the Preschool Office are located here.  In 2005, St. James’ Church acquired properties on North King Street for the needs of future generations; in 2007, this acquisition was complemented by the purchase of the Seccombe House, located at Wirt and Cornwall Streets, which once served as the rectory.  The former rectory was renovated in 2008 and dedicated as the Parish House, where classrooms and meeting places are located.  In 2011, a Columbarium was dedicated on the site of the original church building, on Church Street between North and East Market Streets, behind the Loudoun County Court House.