Friday, October 2, 2009

A Magnificent Ruin in the South Carolina Wildwoods

When I went to South Carolina this summer to see Ethan and Valerie, they took me to the ruins of Old Sheldon Prince William's Parish Church, near Beaufort. The plaque at the entrance reads:

Ruins of Old Sheldon Prince William's Parish Church
Built 1745-55. Burned 1779 by British. Rebuilt 1826.
Burned 1865 by Federal Army. Named for ancestral home
of the Bull family in Warwickshire, England.
Annual Services Second Sunday after Easter

Despite being burned by two armies, the red brick ruins remain solid, the church remains a place of Christian worship, and the chairs were in place for an upcoming service the day we were there.

This old hand pump draws water from the well.

The churchyard graves reflect the history of the people who worshiped here, their losses, their honor, their endurance. This gravestone reads:

George Chisolm Mackay
Born Oct 8, 1803 Died Oct 28 1864
And His Sons
Edward Robert
Born Jan 24, 1830 Drowned Feb 9 1868
George Chisolm Jr
Born Dec 20 1835 Killed in battle
May 12 1864

A pink fairy rose bush cascades over a more recent, but still old, set of family gravestones.

When these trees were injured or became hollow, they were saved by filling the cavities with cement, just as a tooth is filled.

The tree surgeon who did the work had a fine aesthetic sense, and patterned the cement like brick. Isn't it beautiful?

The altar, also made of brick masonry like the outer walls and columns of the building, survived the fire and the ages. It is seen here toward the left of the photo inside the remaining walls, while just outside in the shade of a tree is a tomb of similar size and shape.

Faith of our fathers, we will strive
To win all nations unto thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
We all shall then be truly free.
Faith of Our Fathers, by Frederick W. Faber, 1849

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