Tucked away in the Fairfax County on Toll House Road in Annandale sits Wakefield Chapel built in 1899 by Oliver Besley, a local sawmill owner on land he donated to build a church. The original deed for Wakefield Chapel drawn up by Oliver Besley stated that the church was only to be used for Methodist services two Sundays a month and the rest of the time it was to by any other denominations on other days.
The chapel is actually named for the first methodist minister who led services there Elhanan Wakefield. Wakefield had a significant part of history in Fairfax County during the civil war. He was responsible for burning down another church in “The Annandale Church” (not Wakefield Chapel) in 1864 under General Mosby and was so seriously wounded at the battle near Tom’s Brook VA that he was almost buried alive. Two men who were preparing his grave noticed that he was still breathing and his wounds were so serious that when he was sufficiently recovered he was released from the service.
Wakefield returned to Annandale and began the work of rebuilding the church he had been ordered to burn down. He would use his skills as a carpenter to earn a living and with his interest in religion he would eventually become the first Sunday School Superintendent of the Annandale Church and be ordained as a Methodist minister. When the Besley’s bought the property to build their church just down the road from the Annandale Church, Wakefield would become one of the founders of the church and occasionally serve as the minister.
Surprising during all this time he was still suffering from the wounds he received in the 1864 battle and in 1903 it was discovered that he still had two rifle shots in his shoulder. Wakefield stayed in Fairfax County until his death in 1920.
Wakefield Chapel is owned by the Fairfax County Park Authority and is available to rent for weddings. It is a just another small piece of history that you will find tucked away in Fairfax County.
©2008. All rights reserved. Cindy Jones
All original photos taken January 2008
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