On a brilliant and lovely Saturday strolling along the streets of the historic village of Middleburg, Virginia, one is often treated to the melodic sound of the antique bell in the steeple of the 19th century Middleburg United Methodist Church. Exiting the church at that very moment might be one of our own belles in a striking white gown and veil accompanied by her new husband. Now that Middleburg has become a destination spot for country weddings, many of those belles can just as easily be “from away” as we say here.
The Middleburg United Methodist Church was built between 1857-1858 and the old bell bears the 1857 date stamp. There is a stained glass window inside the church dedicated to Catherine Broun Fred, whose mother, Catherine Hopkins Broun, kept a diary during the Civil War. Mrs. Broun laments the horror of seeing both Union and Confederate wounded lying in what was then their new Methodist Church pressed into service as a hospital. One of Mrs. Broun’s diary entries also mentions her dinner guest, Col. John Singelton Mosby, who had skirted the Yankee lines to sneak over for a home cooked meal.
Weddings are always a time of celebration in our village just as they are anywhere else. Wedding day jitters can sometimes affect others besides the bride and groom. My second husband, Jack, and I were married here in this area about 8 years ago. We would have been married in Middleburg Methodist but since we married while mounted on horseback the church custodian vetoed the cleanup job, necessitating an outdoor venue.
The pastor who married us was my lifelong friend who had also performed the ceremony when I married my first husband, Ralph. I nearly fell off my horse when I heard the pastor turn to Jack and ask “Do you, Ralph…?” Jack was a bit concerned later about whether or not I had married him or if I had just been remarried to Ralph!
No matter who the bride or groom might be, Middleburg weddings are always a very special event.