Fell's Church is a fictional town in Virginia and where most of The Vampire Diaries takes place.
Though the exact year is unknown, Fell's Church was founded in the early 19th century by Thomas Keeping Fell and his wife, Honoria Fell.
American Civil War
Fell's Church was the site of a Civil War battle described by Matt Honeycutt in Dark Reunion as "a slaughter on both sides. Nobody won, but almost everyone who fought got killed. The woods are full of their graves." References to the devastating nature of the battle are scattered throughout the series, most notably as visual landmarks. The church above the graveyard - referred to as "the ruined church" - was left abandoned, while other structures were rebuilt. The original house on Maple Street, built before 1861, was burned, suggesting the battle's effects were not relegated to the edge of town. The great-great-grandfather of Elena Gilbert built a new house around the two rooms that could be salvaged. The "old" graveyard, located just beyond Wickery Bridge, is dated from the War and many of its headstones bear the name of soldiers. Like the ruined church and Honoria Fell's Crypt, it is largely neglected.
The town's Civil War past plays a significant role in the annual Founders' Day celebration, with elementary school students often re-enacting the Fell's Church battle in a play.
There are some places on this earth that are...different. That are full of psychic energy, either positive or negative, good or evil. Some of them have always been that way, like the Bermuda Triangle and Salisbury Plain, the place where they built Stonehenge. Others become that way, especially where a lot of blood has been shed. (Stefan in Dark Reunion, chapter 5)
While the magnitude of the battle waged may well have contributed to the supernatural draw of the area, it is worth noting the significance of circumstances and events preceding the Civil War in Fell's Church. Founder Honoria Fell was a witch and recognized as such within the community. Her Powers were held in such high regard that the townsfolk built an elaborate tomb and crypt in her honor. When Katherine claims the Fell crypt as her home and destroys Honoria's bones, the the witch's spirit is disturbed and begins to communicate to Elena through Bonnie.
Also significant is the presence of werewolves around the time of the town's founding. The Smallwood family's werewolf legacy can be traced to the attack and subsequent change of Jacob Smallwood in the 19th century, detailed by Honoria Fell in her journal.
Some assume Fell's Church is a renaming of the existing town of Falls Church, Virginia, located at the northeastern tip of the state, but this seems unlikely. The specific location of Fell's Church within the state is not known, only that it is located in Boone County. No such county in Virginia exists, though there is a Boone County in West Virginia. There is speculation Fell's Church is in or around the Roanoke Valley in southwestern Virginia. There are references to nearby towns and other cities throughout The Vampire Diaries, including Roanoke, Charlottesville, Leesburg, and Herron (spelling in The Struggle) or Heron (spelling in Dark Reunion). Roanoke is close enough to Fell's Church for a day trip, Leesburg is far enough away for an overnight trip, and Herron/Heron seems to be a fictional town. Charlottesville is also within two hours' drive of the Roanoke Valley. Lending weight to this conclusion is the Roanoke Valley's distinctive terrain as part of "the valley and ridge province" of Virginia and its proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway, which echoes the Fell's Church landscape.
Flora and faunaEdit
Trees: quince, black walnut, oak, willow, weeping willow, maple, ginkgoes, purple beech, birch
Fell's Church is defined along its western edge by Drowning Creek, deep woods, and hills. The hill immediately adjacent to Wickery Bridge, a footbridge in the northwest, separates the newer graveyard from the older, Civil War-era graveyard. The ruined church and Honoria Fell's Crypt are located at the top of this hill. The "new" bridge - a term used to distinguish it from Wickery Bridge even after the latter was destroyed - is located north of the cemetery and is the only bridge accessible to vehicles from Old Creek Road, which runs north to south between Drowning Creek (west) and the bulk of the woods (east).
The Boarding House is situated east of the woods and the cemetery, at the western edge of town, surrounded by fenced pastures and fields, and at the end of a long winding drive.
The Francher Homestead, abandoned for more than a century, sits in the woods east of Old Creek Road, near a small bluff. Whether it is north or south of the Boarding House is uncertain. At least one path cuts through the woods (most likely from Old Creek Road) and ends at the southern edge of the homestead. Meredith implies in Dark Reunion that the underground tunnel running from Honoria Fell's Crypt beneath Drowning Creek emerges near the Francher place.
The town rests mostly in the east. There is one major pass through which road traffic can enter and exit the town. If the pass becomes blocked during inclement weather, no vehicles can make it through. This may or may not be located along Thunderbird, the only major road running from town to Old Creek Road.
Somewhere in or near town is Warm Springs, a once-popular picnic spot.
Architecture and neighborhoods
While there is minimal detail provided about the various neighborhoods of Fell's Church, there are characteristics that distinguish those neighborhoods mentioned from each other. Maple Street, where Elena lives, is described as containing a row of stately mid-to-late 19th century Victorian houses. Caroline Forbes' house on Sunflower Street features late 19th century Queen Anne architecture. Matt's neighborhood, located two streets away from Robert E. Lee High School, is a series of simple frame houses.
Meredith lives in what Elena describes as a "graceful" farmhouse with a wraparound porch. Though the architecture of Bonnie McCullough's house is never detailed, it has French doors, hardwood floors, and a large fireplace, leaving its age open to interpretation.
The Boarding House is "vast" and built of red brick, implying possible Colonial Revival, popular from 1870 onward (and in keeping with rebuilding in the wake of the Civil War) or early 20th century neo-Georgian architecture. Authentic Georgian architecture is unlikely given the style's fall from favor in post-Revolutionary War America and when Fell's Church was founded. Since the age of the house is unknown, and exterior details scarce, it is difficult to pinpoint for certain. The house has a few unique details including a widow's walk, which is typically reserved for coastal houses but not particularly odd along the East coast.
Government and community
The head of government in Fell's Church is Mayor Dawley, though the extent of his influence is difficult to gauge. His only appearance in the series is during the Founders' Day celebration. After Mr. Tanner's murder, it is Brian Newcastle, Robert E. Lee High School's principal, and Dr. Feinberg, the town medical examiner, who recruit experimental psychologist Alaric Saltzman to Fell's Church. Other notable citizens who take action in the wake of the vampire attacks include Mr. Smallwood, Mr. Forbes, and Mr. Bennett.
There is one elementary school, name unknown. Robert E. Lee High School is located on Lee Street and the teaching and administrative staff includes Mr. Newcastle (principal), Mrs. Clarke (admissions secretary), Ms. Halpern (trigonometry), Mrs. Endicott (biology), Coach Lyman (football coach), Mr. Shelby (janitor), and Mr. Tanner (history, deceased). The school's only known sports team is in football. There is also a debate team. The official school colors are black and red.
Elena's memorial is held in a presumably Protestant church, headed by Reverend Bethea. Elena implies in The Fury that Fell's Church has more than one church, but it is unclear whether she is referring to the ruined church near the graveyard.
Fell's Church is home to at least one major medical clinic, run by Dr. Lowen. Mary McCullough, the older sister of Bonnie, is a nurse there. The nearest major hospital is in Roanoke. Dr. Feinberg is the town's medical examiner. There is also a veterinary clinic.
Mrs. Grimesby is the town librarian and "the keeper of Fell's Church's historical artifacts, including clothing that had been preserved from the town's earliest days." She has the diaries of Elena Gilbert and Honoria Fell on display near the library's circulation desk, in keeping with Bonnie's wishes to have Elena's diary accessible to everyone.
Like many small towns, high school sports seem to be a popular form of recreation in Fell's Church, and most of the town's big events center around Robert E. Lee. There are two major school dances during the fall semester, the Homecoming Dance and the Snow Dance. On Halloween, the Student Council holds a Haunted House fundraiser, typically set up in a lumberyard warehouse.
The local coffee shop seems to be a popular hang-out for high school students, while Chez Louis, an expensive French restaurant, is a preferred destination for special occasions.
Every year, Fell's Church holds the Founders' Day celebration in honor of the town's founders, the Fells. A high school senior who best embodies the qualities of the community is chosen beforehand as The Spirit of Fell's Church, and two additional seniors are chosen as The Spirit of Independence and The Spirit of Fidelity. The celebration encompasses a parade, with participants in authentic 19th century costumes, and a large luncheon and ceremony overseen by the mayor. Awards are given out for scholarship, athletics, and community service. Elementary school students perform a pageant about the town's history, typically beginning with the founding and ending with the Civil War. The Spirits of Fell's Church, Independence, and Fidelity read selections of their choosing but usually opt to read from the works of M.C. Marsh, the only notable poet to emerge from Fell's Church. Additional events are scheduled throughout the rest of the day.
Landmarks and points of interest
- Drowning Creek
- Wickery Bridge
- Boarding House
- Ruined Church and Honoria Fell's Crypt
- Francher Homestead
- Robert E. Lee High School
- Warm Springs
- Fell's Church Library
- Chez Louis
- Coffee Shop
- Virginia Electric
- Old Creek Road
- Maple Street
- Magnolia Avenue
- Thrush Street
- Hawthorne Drive
- Lee Street
- Sunflower Street
- Arbor Green
Fell's Church in The Return
Due to the 17-year time period between the original series and The Return trilogy, and the resulting inconsistencies between the texts, information from The Return is being isolated under its own heading.