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Chapel of Ease Ruins

Saint Helena Island

Lowcountry, South Carolina

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Chapel of Ease Ruins

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  • The Chapel of Ease near Beaufort, South Carolina.- Chapel of Ease Ruins
  • All that remains of the chapel are the tabby walls.- Chapel of Ease Ruins
  • Tabby is made of seashells plastered together, and it holds up surprisingly well.- Chapel of Ease Ruins
  • Old iron fence on the chapel grounds.- Chapel of Ease Ruins
  • Stone building that appears younger than the chapel structure.- Chapel of Ease Ruins
  • Worn gravestones.- Chapel of Ease Ruins
  • Brushing away dirt to reveal the age of this grave.- Chapel of Ease Ruins
  • The grounds of the Chapel of Ease.- Chapel of Ease Ruins
  • Gravestones surrounded by a low tabby wall.- Chapel of Ease Ruins
  • Newer gravestones that have been broken and placed upright.- Chapel of Ease Ruins
  • Inside the chapel, or what's left of it.- Chapel of Ease Ruins
  • Spanish moss in the trees.- Chapel of Ease Ruins
  • This small sign by the highway is the only information posted on site.- Chapel of Ease Ruins
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Colonial history. Roadside.
Cons: 
Little information on-site.
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Region:
Lowcountry, SC
Access: 
Vehicle
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Year round: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
None
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Pro Contributor

Located just off a country road outside Beaufort, South Carolina, is an eerie remnant of the state's long history. A modest church building was erected here in the mid 1700s. Almost none of the wooden structure remains, but walls built of tabby--seashells plastered together--still stand like the ghostly white exoskeleton of a long-gone congregation. These walls have withstood two wars fought on the island, several forest fires, and all other tests of time since South Carolina was a colony of Great Britain.

The long history of this church is not well known, and little information is available on site, but it likely served many purposes and saw much strife during more than 100 years of active use on Saint Helena Island.

Called a Chapel of Ease, it was built as an auxillary of the primary parish of Saint Helena, located farther out from Beaufort so rural planters could more easily attend services. It was used as such until the Civil War in 1861, when Union forces took over the island and evacuated the ruling population. Slaves were left in semi-freedom until President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation made their liberty official in 1863. During the time in between, soldiers and Northerners coming to educate those left on the island used the church for shelter. After the war, a Methodist group of freedmen met there as a church once again, but a forest fire destroyed most of the structure in 1886, and it has remained in ruin ever since.

All that stands today are the tabby walls and patches of clinging plaster, but the layout of the church is still preserved. One can imagine where pews and a pulpit once stood more than a century ago. In the church yard, a leaning and rusty iron fence surrounds some old trees and faded gravestones. A small auxillary building made of stone and brick stands on the edge of the grounds, but it appears younger than the original chapel structure. Walking among the ruins and finding clues to their uncertain past makes an enticing challenge for any history buff, amatuer or professional. Even a casual passersby should make a quick stop to admire this relic of colonial times and imagine what life on the island must have been like for those who used this chapel.

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(1 within a 30 mile radius)

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(9 within a 30 mile radius)

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