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Old Sheldon Church Ruins

Old Sheldon Church Ruins

I found a photo of Old Sheldon Church Ruins on Pinterest. I looked it up and it wasn’t really that far from our route home from Hilton Head Island.  We just got off  I-95 at State Rd S-7-48 and made a left on Old Sheldon Church Rd. It was maybe 10 or 15 minutes off the interstate.  We planned on getting lunch around the same time, but there was really nothing.

Gate to Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Gate to Old Sheldon Church Ruins

You enter through this gate.

Gate to Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Gate to Old Sheldon Church Ruins

The gate and historic marker are easy to see from the road.

Old Sheldon Church Ruins is about 17 miles north of Beaufort. I put the location into the GPS and had no trouble finding it.

Prince William's Parish Church (Sheldon Church) Historical Marker
Prince William’s Parish Church
(Sheldon Church) Historical Marker

Prince William’s Parish Church
(Sheldon Church)

These ruins are of Prince William’s Parish Church, built ca. 1751-57 and partially burned during the American Revolution, with its interior and roof rebuilt 1825-26. This Anglican church was primarily paid for by Lt. Gov. William Bull I (1683-1755), who is buried here. It is often called Sheldon after Bull’s plantation.

There is a historical marker sign. It says continued on other side, but it looks like I didn’t get a photo of the other side. Sorry.

Sign on gate to Old Sheldon Church Ruins In Memory of Evelyn Thayer Chace
Sign on gate to Old Sheldon Church Ruins
In Memory of Evelyn Thayer Chace

This plaque is on the gate.

First view of Old Sheldon Church Ruins
First view of Old Sheldon Church Ruins

Here is the first view of the church ruins.

Front of Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Front of Old Sheldon Church Ruins

Old Sheldon Church, also called Prince William’s Parish Church was built sometime between 1745 and 1753 as a chapel of ease. A chapel of ease is a church building that is not the main church that is closer and easier for the congregation to get to.

The Baynard Mausoleum in Zion Chapel of Ease Cemetery on Hilton Head Island >

Front of Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Front of Old Sheldon Church Ruins

The ruins are beautiful, an unusual brick version of Roman columns. Wikipedia says it in “English Georgian style, using the Roman Tuscan or Doric order.”

Front of Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Front of Old Sheldon Church Ruins

It is overshadowed by huge Live Oak trees and Spanish moss.

The church is now surrounded by a fence. It was put in this June. Idiots have spray-painted graffiti, broken headstones and carved their names into bricks., even stolen bricks.

Back of Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Back of Old Sheldon Church Ruins

This is the back and the side that is furthest from the road.

Back of Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Back of Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Behind Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Behind Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Back of Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Back of Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Back of Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Back of Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Back of Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Back of Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Side of Old Sheldon Church Ruins closest to the road
Side of Old Sheldon Church Ruins closest to the road

Why is the church in ruins?

There seems to be no doubt that it was burned during the Revolutionary War, “in 1779, when General Prevost, marching from Savannah into South Carolina burned the Church”* then rebuilt in 1826.

During the Civil War, it was reported as burned again, but a letter at the time said that it was repairable. Perhaps the materials of the church were used to rebuild homes following the Civil War and the church was left to decay.

Grave marker near Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Grave marker near Old Sheldon Church Ruins

There are some old tomb stones around the ruins.

Grave markers around Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Grave markers around Old Sheldon Church Ruins

They are very old.

Grave marker Memory of …Wm Fuller By Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Grave marker Memory of …Wm Fuller
By Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Grave marker … wife of Dr. Fuller, Died June 1887 By Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Grave marker … wife of Dr. Fuller, Died June 1887
By Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Grave marker Sacred to the Memory of Mrs Mary Gowen By Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Grave marker Sacred to the Memory of Mrs Mary Gowen
By Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Grave marker Sacred to the Memory of Henry M. Fuller, Died 1890 By Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Grave marker Sacred to the Memory of Henry M. Fuller, Died 1890
By Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Grave marker Sacred to the Memory of Sacred to the Memory of Epraim Mikell Mackay 1832 By Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Grave marker Sacred to the Memory of Sacred to the Memory of Epraim Mikell Mackay 1832
By Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Sign in front of Old Sheldon Church Ruins For permission to use the church yard, call 522-1712
Sign in front of Old Sheldon Church Ruins
For permission to use the church yard, call 522-1712

I have seen wedding photos around the ruins. Members of the Parish Church of St. Helena in the city of Beaufort can marry at Old Sheldon Church.

There is a large parking lot across the road.

* Destruction of Churches and Church Property by Bishop Thomas,  as quoted in The Picturesque Ruins of Old Sheldon Church by Charles E. Thomas in a 1969 issue of Sandlapper: the Magazine of South Carolina

Historic Photos of Old Sheldon Church Ruins

There are three old photos of the church ruins in the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) No. SC-137 in the Library of Congress. They are titled  Prince William’s Parish Church (Ruins), Sheldon, Beaufort County, S.

Prince William's Parish Church (Ruins), Sheldon, Beaufort County, SC Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Historic American Buildings Survey
Prince William’s Parish Church (Ruins), Sheldon, Beaufort County, SC
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
Historic American Buildings Survey
Click to open larger in a new window
Prince William's Parish Church (Ruins), Sheldon, Beaufort County, SC Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Historic American Buildings Survey
Prince William’s Parish Church (Ruins), Sheldon, Beaufort County, SC
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
Historic American Buildings Survey
Click to open larger in a new window
Prince William's Parish Church (Ruins), Sheldon, Beaufort County, SC Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Historic American Buildings Survey
Prince William’s Parish Church (Ruins), Sheldon, Beaufort County, SC
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
Historic American Buildings Survey
Click to open larger in a new window