The Grace Sherwood Stone

History of the Grace Sherwood Stone

In 2021 the Grace Sherwood Stone was moved next to the Little Free Library to make way for construction of the Parish Hall addition.

Everyone is cordially invited to stop by and see the stone which remains out in front of
the Church at 4449 N. Witchduck Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23455.

Pete Owens, leader of the Historic Traditions Commission (HTC) standing behind the Rosemary bed in the Herb Garden

In 2013 the HTC voted to ask for charitable contributions for the Grace Sherwood Stone. After placement in the Herb Garden, on July 10th 2014 the "Dedication and Blessing of the Grace Sherwood Stone" was held.

The Reverend Drew Foisie opened the proceeding with a prayer
"Blessing of the Stone" Sermon:

Accept, we pray, this stone and its placement in this garden; and grant that as we look upon it, we will remember Grace and lay aside our prejudice and fear, and incline our hearts to walk in love and act with justice." Then Rev Foisie and others, using sprigs of Rosemary dipped in Holy Water, blessed the stone.

Belinda Nash (above) then gave a eulogy about Grace Sherwood. In 2012 she wrote about Grace in "A Place in Time: The Age of the Witch of Pungo."

Church Historian Bob Perrine (above) concluded the dedication. "Today we come together to honor a woman who was a member of our church. She reportedly helped people when called upon, caring for the sick with her extensive knowledge of herbs. Grace’s label as a witch was not lifted for 300 years until Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine in 2006 restored her good name.”

On Aug 5th, 2023 noted historian Scott Moore (above) visited Old Donation and provided his account of the Grace Sherwood story. He said beginning in 1697, talk of Grace being a witch started to surface, which fueled gossip in the community. Her husband James brought deformation suits to court which only fueled more gossip. A few years after James died Aug 15th, 1701, Elizabeth Hill came to the Sherwood’s farm and beat Grace about the face. Grace promptly sued the Hills for assault and battery. The court found in favor of Grace noting she had been assaulted, bruised, and beaten badly about her face. Elizabeth Hill got angry over the verdict believing her action was justifiable against a witch by showing how facial blood could prove Grace had magic powers. As a result of the court's ruling, the Hills began charging Grace in court with witchery. Eventually the court got tired of the Hill’s continued claims, and so did Grace, having been searched various times for marks of the devil and enduring trips in and out of court. Grace finally agreed on July 10th, 1706 to a ducking in the Lynnhaven River. The Court ordered the Sheriff to take precautions to preserve her from drowning, and then take her into his custody and commit her to jail secured in irons until such time Grace was brought to trial. The record is silent about any further action against Grace, and there is no proof she was convicted of any crime by the court, only that she was convicted as a witch by the waters of the Lynnhaven River. She eventually was released from jail and got her farm back.