Found in the Bull family cemetery, Anglican chapel, St. Helena barrier island.
Both the Bull and Heyward families are found throughout Charleston and South Carolina history. In Charleston several of the larger manor houses were owned by family members. They were plantation owners here until the union army came up through Georgia.
Many barrier islands were abandoned ahead of the army’s arrival.
The ruins of the Anglican Prince Williams Parish, 1757
In 1779 the church was burned by the English army during the US Revolutionary War. It was rebuilt only to be damaged in 1866 during the Civil War. Traditional history has another fire. However a letter dated 1866 has the damaged church ‘torn apart’ and used to repair homes burned by the Federal Army. Whatever happened… as usual fire was involved.
Plantation owners, notably the Bull family of nearby Sheldon Plantation, provided funds to support the parish. The Bull family members are buried (above) in the old church yard.
The area is called the Sheldon Ruins based on the nearby plantation.
There are still the remains of several ‘chapels of ease’ around rural South Carolina. Some are almost gone, this one is in better shape.
The Anglican chapel was constructed in 1740 by planters on Saint Helena Island as a chapel of ease for parishioners who had difficulty traveling to worship at the main parish church in Beaufort, South Carolina. The ruins were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
Built around 1740 of tabby construction this is one of the few Chapels of Ease the public still has access too. By some miracle there has been no theft or vandalism. A sad but true fact is all the other ruins of chapels are now behind fences.
Members of the Bull family, from Bull plantation, are buried in the nearby graveyard. The church and plantations were abandoned when news came of the invasion of Beaufort and Port Royal by Union troops during the Civil War.
During and immediately after the war the chapel was used to support the freemen (enslaved people suddenly free with no support).
A large forest fire on the island burned the structures and repairs were never done. Until the 1940’s when a bridge was built there was no access to this island other than small boats.
These photographs give a different perspective than the usual church architecture images.
Where the standard composition is l based on gazing forward, towards the alter, these are looking back out to the rear and sides of the church. This set was provided first to a Charleston historical group and several comments made a point of noticing the difference.
After the comments I reviewed articles on several other historical churches here and found the best photographic series made a point of displaying several different point of views.
Again, it’s most common to work forward only, yet so much is then missed these older buildings. This is something I need to remember when shooting the next series. The time available with an empty historical church is very limited. So … this is a note to self ‘shoot the other direction’.
All the historical churches have tall vaulted ceilings. Some are more ornate than others but the design is consistent.
The family wooden pews are also in most. This has helped keep great historical records on individual members and visitors. In one church the exact seat used by George Washington was easily identified, another was the Marquis de Lafayette.
Now that the pandemic lockdown has ended I think it’s time to visit a few more of the local manor houses also.
Photographed June 2, 2021, Huguenot Church, Charleston, South Carolina.
When in town we cannot help but walk by it, or even cut through the cemetery going about our business.
The first church building was completed in 1681. Of course hurricanes, fire, war, and earthquakes made repairs and changes necessary.
The tall steeple (tallest structure in Charleston) served as a light for sailors entering the harbor. It was also used as a target by Union gunners during the Civil War, and a lookout by Confederate gunners at the same time.
The church is the burial place for many US historical figures. Signers of the Constitution, Declaration Of Independence, and members of the original Continental Congress are buried here.
Above the tomb of John C Calhoun sits in the church yard. He was the Vice President of the US, Secretary of War, Secretary of State, just about everything except president… not that he didn’t try.
For many reasons he is among the most infamous politicians in the history of the US.
St. Philip’s , Charleston SCSt. Philip’s, Church Street, Charleston, South Carolina.