MHT File Photo
H.G. Trueman Road (MD 765), Lusby, Calvert County
Situated within a small cemetery, Middleham Chapel is a one-story, cruciform-shaped, Flemish bond brick structure with exposed fieldstone foundations. The principal facade is at the west end and is three bays in width. The centrally placed entrance has a wide, flat architrave, and double doors of six panels each. The two flanking window openings frame stained 1/1 double-hung sash and have the same flat architrave as the door. All three openings have shallow segmental arches of alternating stretcher and header bricks with the lower headers glazed. Above at the attic gable, can be seen the outline of two small windows that were probably bricked in during an 1893 renovation. Between these two former windows the date 1748 has been set into the gable walls with glazed headers (the Flemish bond brickwork of this facade is decorated with regularly placed glazed headers up to the eaves level; from that point up to the gable peak no glazed headers are used). Both side walls of this small building are three bays in length, with small, centrally placed transepts. Originally the south transept was entered through an arched doorway, (its arched head higher and more pronounced than those of the windows and door of the central block) that is now bricked in. The north transept initially had an arched window that establishes the size of the original windows of the central block. Like the door of the south transept, the window has also been bricked in. Brick chimneys protruding from the roof of both transepts at the exposed ends provided for former wood stoves, introduced during the 1893 renovation. The existing gable roof, unbroken on either slope and with shallow projecting eaves and exposed rafter ends, was probably also introduced as part of the 1893 renovations. Toward the west end of the roof ridge is a simple gable-roofed open belfry, undoubtedly contemporary to the roof structure since it is of the same general plan. The belfry shelters a small cast-iron bell bearing the date 1699 that was salvaged from an earlier frame chapel which formerly stood on or near this same site. At the east end of the 1748 structure is a one-story brick addition also built about 1893, which houses the present sanctuary, the sacristy, and the vesting room. The interior of the church was completely renovated in 1893 and reflects the tastes of that period. The ceiling, which barely discernible structural evidence indicates had a central vault, is open to the roof ridge and has exposed stained sheathing boards and framing rafters. The open pews with shaped Gothic-style end boards, the floors, windows, white marble altar, communion rail, and the prayer desk and pulpit are all contemporary to the renovation, although the last two are said to have been fashioned out of an 18th century altar table. As the former west end gallery was also removed at that time there is nothing on the interior to reflect the actual construction date of the building. There are, however, several 18th century headstones which were removed from the cemetery and set into the walls flanking the sanctuary during the renovation.
The present Middleham Chapel was built in 1748 to replace an earlier frame or log structure believed to have been erected as early as 1684 as a Chapel of Ease of Christ Church Parish. Middleham Chapel is the oldest standing example of ecclesiastical architecture in Calvert County and one of the earliest examples in Southern Maryland. It is certainly one of only a few that retain their basic original exterior features, which at Middleham Chapel includes its cruciform plan and dated gable. Its history, setting, and attractively preserved state establishes it as a regional landmark worthy of recognition and continued maintenance.