Church dating to 1600s will expand its “serenely beautiful” cemetery

One of the city’s oldest churches is nearing capacity at its cemetery and needs to expand.

The trustees of Eastern Shore Chapel, an Episcopal church at 2020 Laskin Rd., sought and received a conditional use permit earlier this month from the City Council to develop another five acres of primarily wooded church property for grave sites.

The expansion will create space for about 2,500 more burials, according to planning documents. Without the extra plots, the cemetery was projected to exhaust its current supply of sites by about 2022, according to the documents.

Eastern Shore Chapel’s website describes its cemetery as “serenely beautiful,” sitting on eight acres of land next to the chapel “amidst a profusion of laurel, dogwood, holly, pine, and oak trees.” It has about 518 plots remaining for sale to church members and the public out the 5,545 total grave sites in its cemetery, according to the planning documents.

Eastern Shore Chapel received its name for its setting on the east bank of the Lynnhaven River, according to the church’s website. The congregation’s original building was erected around 1689 in the Colony of Virginia as a parish to the Church of England, according to the planning documents.

In 1730, the second Eastern Shore Chapel was built for approximately 1,000 pounds of tobacco, according to a summary of its history in the planning documents.

In 1900, the church’s original cemetery was built on the site of the third Eastern Shore Chapel, on land that is now part of Oceana Naval Air Station, the summary said. The cemetery was relocated to its present site in the early 1950s by the Navy because of the expansion of runways at Oceana, it said.


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