Its a peaceful and scenic drive to get to the ruins....like the middle of nowhere.
Magnolias coming into bloom.......
And here we are! You can clearly observe the old ruins underneath the gently swaying Spanish moss that curtains the huge old oaks. The Sheldon Church was built in 1757 by some of the first settlers of South Carolina.
Love these tall columns! The church was built to imitate a Greek temple. The walls were almost FOUR feet thick and that might be why they still stand.
The church grounds are next to the old Newberry Plantation, on a quiet back road in Beaufort County.
This grand old church was set on fire by the British troops in the Revolutionary War. It burned down. But guess what?...the congregation built their church back!
It was re-built around 1826. You can see the stone grave marker there on the ground that belongs to Colonel William Bull. I think I heard it was an old English tradition to bury the dead underneath the floor of the church? Mr. Bull owned Newberry Plantation, which borders the church grounds. When the church was re-built after the first burning, it was re-named Sheldon Church in honor of the Bull family's ancestral home back in England. The original Bull family in the area back in the 1600's donated the land and the money to build the church. The local Bull family members were very well known and William Bull helped design and lay out the squares that form Savannah. I am assuming they were wealthy as they owned much land, a working plantation, and plenty of money to built a big church like this one. I am not sure, but I think Mr. Bull's father or grandfather helped the original lay out and design of Charleston.
The church was burned down AGAIN during the Civil War, during Sherman's March to the Sea.
This is one of my favorite pictures....love the way the trees are hanging down. This is a where you pause...........wonder.........get quiet........and listen.
So much history here. I could almost see the shiny black carriages arriving, with the hoof-beats of the sleek horses thundering down the country lane and the wheels spinning quickly. Could see the men in their top hats and shiny boots helping the ladies down from the carriages.....the ladies in their long swirling skirts....all laces and parasols and big fancy hats with feathers that blew gently in the humid breezes. People arriving for Sunday service, clutching their Bibles and clean handkerchiefs, ready to worship their Lord, sing praises, softly pray and then afterwards to visit and mingle and catch up with others living in this amazing new land.
Children, released now from "being quiet" and having to sit still and listen-- might've ran and scampered and shouted, playing with their brothers and sisters, and making new friends. Perhaps the families brought a picnic lunch in a big basket and they would enjoy that with other families of the congregation before once again climbing back into their carriages and heading back to their lives. I wonder what kinds of food folks back then would bring on a picnic? Bread was baked at home,usually in the kitchen house out back. There was no refrigeration or running water. I suppose they used big old ice blocks to keep things cold at home in the spring houses? Do you think they enjoyed lemonade? Iced tea hadn't been invented yet I don't think. Maybe they had some cold biscuits and cheese or meat? Apple pies? I bet the men hunted for venison and wild game. Living near the sea, maybe they enjoyed seafood?
I wonder what their preacher was like?
I wonder if this church had a piano or organ, or maybe even both? I can certainly envision colorful and pretty stained glass windows in those empty arched window areas, can't you?
I bet it was hot in this church in the spring, summer, and Fall seasons, and the ladies fanned furiously with their pretty fans in an attempt to cool down? Just think of the beautiful but STIFF AND SCRATCHY crinolines and the tight corsets they endured!
In addition to Sunday services, it goes without saying this was a place of joy for young couples being joined in matrimony and beginning their lives together. People married very young back then and began large families. The white wedding dress was not yet a 'tradition' or in fashion so most young brides married in their very best Sunday dress and a pretty bonnet. It was just as common for a couple to pledge their vows in the bride's parlour at her family home where she grew up as it was to marry in the church.
This church was also a place of sadness as funerals were held and loved ones buried on the grounds. So many babies perished back then and their little graves are so sadly sweet. Many mothers died during childbirth. All they had were mid-wives (if they were lucky) and no modern medicine like what we have today. Many people died of malaria and other diseases. People fell off horses. Carriages overturned. Pneumonia spread. Men killed each other in duels. Houses burned down and people perished in the flames and/or the smoke. Fires were so common of course, because of fireplaces and oil lamps and candles. (isn't it strange to think of times when we had no electricity?)Wars began and ended. Strong hurricanes would come sweeping through and leave much destruction and death---people had no 'warnings' back then. There were epidemics of small pox, tuberculosis and measles, which claimed many lives of both young and old. And then there was cholera and consumption and probably plain old food poisoning would kill many without the knowledge and medicines we have today.
This church was also likely a "meeting" place for important and maybe emergency town meetings.....and perhaps the church had a bell that would peal loudly to signal approaching danger or to alert the local people that they were needed quickly to help one another with a tragedy, a fire to put out, an illness or childbirth.
The church has a very peaceful feel to it. Its a very serene place and I loved walking around amongst the ancient gravestones and reading the markers.The trees hang down low and they go "swish, swish".....can you hear the past?Ssssshhhh...... Listen..... So much history to learn.......
There were people here before us.....what were their stories?
Depending on what time of day you go (and even in the time we were there) the sun changes the patterns and the shadows. Your photographs can have a totally different look/feel just an hour later. On the day we were there the sky was very blue and the sun dappled lights on the tall old pillars and on the scattered graves gave everything a sweet glow. At times the inside of the church seemed to glow with a golden light, while the outside bricks were dark.
You know how I love all the old architecture of Charleston, and I love looking at the architecture of tumbling old ruins such as these as well. As many historic old cemeteries as we wander around in in Charleston, I did enjoy walking around viewing these silent resting places too. There are many graves scattered about, most in good condition, but many succumbing to the passage of time and falling and crumbling.
This is the old fashioned water pump, which, as you can see, still works and has ice cold water.
What a special and historic place this is!.....nestled underneath all the huge old oak trees and the palmettos. It is also near swampy land, so there are many aggressive mosquitoes and "no-see-ums" which will try to eat you alive. I had been warned of this and wore long sleeves, sturdy shoes (snakes), and wore a thick scarf around my head and neck. I look ridiculous in the pictures but I was pretty much protected. LOL I would also advise gloves, which I didn't think of.
Good-bye, ruins!.....till next time! Because of course.....we'll be back.