Fleeton, the village where St. Mary’s is located, lies on the eastern tip of Northumberland County. This is one of the oldest counties in Virginia and is one of the five counties that make up the Northern Neck. A peninsula, Fleeton is bordered on the east by Chesapeake Bay, on the south by the Great Wicomico River and on the west by Cockrell’s Creek. It was established in 1902 by the Fleet’s Point Development Company as a planned community.
Heathsville, Northumberland’s county seat is about 15 miles west of Fleeton. The public schools – elementary, middle and high – are located there as is the Northumberland Public Library and a YMCA. The nearest Post Office is in Reedville, three miles from Fleeton. Good restaurants are located in Reedville, as well as the Reedville Fishermen’s Museum which documents the history of the area and offers exhibits, lectures, and various programs for adults and children. A popular ice cream shop can be found at the lower end of the town. Reedville is the home of the menhaden industry which is a large employer in the area. In bygone years there were a number of small menhaden processing plants, mostly family owned, and each owned some menhaden boats. Today Omega Protein is the sole processing plant with 10 menhaden boats.
In addition to the public schools in the Heathsville area, there is a private school, Chesapeake Academy, in neighboring Lancaster County, and two private boarding schools – Christchurch School in Middlesex County and St. Margaret’s School in Tappahannock. Both are church schools of the Diocese of Virginia and both also accept day students. Rappahannock Community College has campuses in Warsaw and Glenns.
Bon Secours Rappahannock General Hospital is located in Lancaster County in the town of Kilmarnock. Burgess (about 10 miles from Fleeton), offers two medical clinics and two dental offices. A volunteer rescue squad and a volunteer fire department are found in Reedville as well as a sea rescue group who attend to mishaps on the waterways. The nearest pharmacy is in Heathsville, and there are several in Kilmarnock. Northumberland County is approximately 90 miles northeast of Richmond, the capital of Virginia, 80 miles north of Norfolk, and 90 miles south of Washington, D.C. Kilmarnock, in Lancaster County, and Warsaw, in Richmond County, are the largest nearby towns for shopping. Williamsburg is approximately 60 miles away. There is a large supermarket in Heathsville and several independent grocers in the area. Recreational opportunities are many. Several rivers as well as Chesapeake Bay afford boating, swimming, fishing and crabbing. In warm weather, cruise boats take passengers on daily excursions to Tangier Island and Smith Island. Marshes and forests offer hunting and hiking. For history buffs there are Stratford Hall, home of the Lee family, and Wakefield, George Washington’s birthplace, both in Westmoreland County. Historic Christ Church is in Lancaster County and offers services during the summer months. There are also several golf courses in the area. Locally there is a motel, several restaurants, bed and breakfast inns, a seafood deli and seafood outlets. There is a funeral home in Burgess as well as four banks and a hardware store.
Blessing of the Fleet
This is an annual event unique to the Reedville area, which serves as one of the major commercial fishing ports in the country. Our church has traditionally served as the lead and director. The priest at St. Mary’s-Fleeton acts as the host or master of ceremonies of the event.