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St. David's Church (Radnor, Pa.) records


Held at: St. David's Episcopal Church Parish Archives [Contact Us]763 Valley Forge Rd, Wayne, PA, 19087

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the St. David's Episcopal Church Parish Archives. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

In 1700, St. David's Parish was established in the area that is now known as Wayne, Radnor Township, Pennsylvania (Delaware County) by a petition from a group of Welsh settlers to the Church of England's Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. The Parish was named after Saint David, a Welsh saint, and the first service took place on September 2, 1700 in a local resident's home. Early services were led by Evan Evans, a Pennsylvania missionary and a Rector of Christ Church in Philadelphia. After a few years, Evans departed from the area and the parishioners sent a request to the Bishop of London for a missionary who could speak Welsh. After several years, the Welsh-speaking Reverend John Clubb arrived to serve the parish. The cornerstone for St. David's Church was laid in May 1715 and the Church was completed later that year in time for Christmas Eve services. Reverend Clubb died during Christmas, leaving the congregation to be served by a number of different missionaries until 1737, when Reverend William Currie became the permanent Rector of the parish.

Reverend Currie resigned in 1776 as a result of the war between England and its American Colonies. Although there was a growing feeling of resentment toward the Church of England and a majority of the congregation was in favor of independence, Currie stood by his commitment to the Church of England and the supremacy of the British monarch. While Currie continued to serve the pastoral needs of the parish, other local preachers, including Reverend David Jones from the nearby Great Valley Baptist Church, led the congregation during the Revolutionary War. In this period, the church was used by both British and American forces to house troops. Currie returned briefly as Rector after the war ended and remained in that role until 1785. In 1789, representatives from nine dioceses met in Philadelphia and the Episcopal Church formally separated from the Church of England. St. David's Parish was re-chartered and incorporated under new laws in 1792.

During the 19th century, the parish expanded its education and mission activities, organizing a church school in 1820 and establishing Old Eagle School in nearby Strafford as a mission. The Pennsylvania Railroad opened stations near St. David's in the 1830s, leading to population growth and more urban parishioners attending services. An addition to the church was built in 1844 to accommodate the growing congregation. Social activities also expanded during the 19th century. The first St. David's Church Fair was held in 1851, and still continues as of 2015.

In the 20th century, other buildings were added to the church complex, including the Parish House in 1924. After World War II, the congregation continued to grow and a new building for worship was dedicated in 1956. This new space, which could accommodate 390 people, was referred to as the "Chapel," while the original 18th century building retained the name of "the Church." The Knewstub Building for Education opened in 1965, allowing for the expansion of the Sunday School and other activities. The "old" St. David's Church and its graveyard were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. In addition to a Titanic survivor and several American Civil War veterans, well-known individuals buried in the graveyard include: Revolutionary War general Anthony Wayne; Ludlow Ogden Smith, first husband to actress Katharine Hepburn; and Helen Hope Montgomery Scott, the inspiration for the character of Tracy Lord in Philip Barry's 1939 play, The Philadelphia Story, the film version of which won two Academy Awards.

In 2006, a new and larger chapel space for 600 people was dedicated. Celebrating its 300th anniversary in 2015, St. David's Episcopal Church remains committed to continuing worship and maintaining and expanding its education activities and outreach ministries.


St. David's Episcopal Church. Celebrating 300 Years of Mission and Ministry. Exton, PA: ANRO Communications, 2015.

The St. David's Church records, dating from 1678 to 2015, with bulk dates of 1860 to 2015, consist of administrative and financial records; materials relating to the church building and other structures on the property, the church grounds, and cemetery; various types of photographic, audio, and audiovisual materials; published and printed matter relating to St. David's and other nearby organizations; research materials about the history of the Church, as well as the people and organizations associated with it; and other materials.

Administrative and financial records include: vestry and congregational meeting minutes, 1894-2015, (minutes from 1894 to 2007 are photocopies of the originals, which are held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania); Worship Commission materials; rector reports and correspondence, a large portion of which is from Frank Allen, circa 2000s; annual reports, 1998, 2004-2015; membership materials and member information, 1999-2012; parish directories; financial records, 1942-1949; loose financial papers, including account statements and reports, circa 1930s-1950s; planning materials, financial records, photographs, contact sheets, and newspaper clippings related to St. David's Fair, a large fundraising event held annually; booklets from Lent, Easter, and Christmas Eve services, as well as other church service programs, circa 1915-2015; sermons and addresses (mostly photocopies of sermons and addresses given between 1876 and 1915); application materials for the Pennsylvania Inventory of Historic Places, 1977; letters relating to the chapel dedication, 2006; an appraisal of the church's silver artifacts, 1980; proclamations; and other materials. There are also several issues of the Church's newsletter/booklet, The Record and The Dove, 1920-2015. ( The Record was the publication's original name, but during the 1970s the name was changed to The Dove.)

There are several original church record books and financial volumes in the collection, including record books containing marriages, 1861-1936; burials and causes of death, 1861-1958; offerings, 1861-1913; baptisms, 1861-1937; 1832 family list names; communicants, 1913-1935; confirmations, 1913-1936; account and cash books, 1862-1919; and ledgers, 1889-1907. Church record books, 1709-1819 and 1937-1953, as well as marriages, 1941-1984, are available at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Buildings, church grounds, and cemetery materials include: blueprints, property surveys, and other technical drawings for the church buildings and the church grounds; materials relating to landscaping the church grounds, including research on horticulture and minutes from the Horticultural Society of St. David's, circa 1960s-1980s; materials relating to the church's cemetery including oversized drawings of the plot layout, cemetery deeds, and photographs, negatives, and slides of gravestones; property records such as indentures and deeds, receipts and other financial documents; letters; meeting minutes from the church's development fund, used to maintain the church, other buildings, and property; research and notes relating to 19th century renovations of the church; and other materials.

Photographic materials, late 19th century-2015, include photographs, film negatives, glass plate negatives, slides, photograph albums, and CDs with images depicting church events, the church and other buildings on the property, people and groups associated with the church, and mission and outreach programs in Uganda, Guatemala, Haiti, and other places. There is also a scrapbook with photographs and newspaper clippings from St. David's Fair, circa 1970s. Several photographs are of church rectors and other members of the clergy. Audio and audiovisual materials include various 8MM videocassettes and one audiocassette with biographical material about Reverend William Currie.

Published materials and printed matter available in the collection include: a little over one dozen 18th century religious themed published books and bibles, many of which are annotated, and some of which were brought over by the Reverend John Clubb in 1714 to start the church's library; family bibles with genealogy information; newspaper clippings about St. David's and the people associated with it; various issues of the Tredyffrin-Easttown History Quarterly magazine; booklets, brochures, and other printed matter relating to St. David's and other nearby organizations, such as the Radnor Historical Society; postcards with images of the church; and other and printed materials.

There are some research materials in the collection pertaining to various individuals and organizations associated with St. David's, including American Revolutionary War General Anthony Wayne, who is buried in St. David's cemetery; Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who wrote a poem about the church; architect R. Brognard Okie, who was involved with the Church restoration in 1925; Henry Pleasants, who wrote a history of the Church in the early 1900s; William H. Knowles Jr., a vestryman of the church, who also served on various committees; Reverend William Currie; historian J. H. Sachse; artist Andrew Wyeth, who sketched the church building; the Brandywine School; and other subjects. The research materials are mostly secondary-source, such as photocopies of articles, computer printouts, and photocopies of primary-source documents and newspaper articles, but there is also a small number of primary-source documents, including letters, an 18th century memorandum book belonging to Reverend Currie, and other items. Additionally there is a series of files containing research relating to the forty Civil War veterans buried in the church's cemetery.

Other items in the collection include: materials from various church groups, including scrapbooks, circa 1990s-2000s, with photographs and ephemera from church youth groups, as well as minutes, 1923, 1929-1937, and other materials from the Women's Auxiliary; cash books, 1925-1929, from the Neighborhood League in Wayne, PA; a handwritten piece of music, 1813; research, scans of images, and other secondary-source materials relating to the church's history, events, parishioners, clergy, buildings, architecture, cemetery, and other related topics; and other materials.

St. David's owns a number of artifacts, art originals, hymnals, and other published books that are associated with this collection, but were not included as part of this survey.

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2014-2016 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact St. David's Episcopal Church Parish Archives directly for more information.

St. David's Episcopal Church Parish Archives
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Sarah Leu and Anastasia Matijkiw through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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