The Lowcountry holds a certain unique charm created by its distinct cultural history, fabled architecture, and of course its iconic pillars: the towering mossy oaks.
I called the Lowcountry home for nearly four blissful years, and will always carry a bit of its magic in my heart. Charleston was a great place to live because, in addition to being one of the most beautiful cities on the mainland US, it is just a few hours’ drive from so many epic places to explore.
One of the last places that I discovered before moving away from the Lowcountry was the hauntingly beautiful (and perhaps literally haunted, as well) Old Sheldon Church Ruins in Yemassee, SC (several miles north of Beaufort,) just over an hours’ drive from Charleston…perfect for a day trip!
Tucked away down a country road lined with a canopy of mossy oaks, these ruins have stood in silent memory for over 120 years.
Originally built between 1745-1755, Prince William’s Parish Church (known as Sheldon) was one of the first Greek-Revival structures to be built in the US, and one of the most majestic buildings in the area.
Through the years, the unraveling of certain historical events took a harsh toll on the church, standing out in garish contrast to the serenity of the land. It served as a storage unit for the Patriot’s gunpowder during the Revolutionary War. In 1779, just a few decades after its building was completed, the Lowcountry was invaded by the British General Augustine Prevost, and the church was burned by a Tory detachment. It sat in ruin — just as now — for several more decades before being rebuilt in 1826.
But history again took its toll, and the church was burned in 1865 by Sherman’s men during the infamous “March to the Sea.” Since that fateful day, it has stood as a silent reminder of the fiery destruction that ravaged so much of the south during those years. All that remains is the brick framework — a roofless sanctuary stretching proudly toward the skies as if to say that there are certain things in life that will stand no matter the forces that come against them.
The property is, of course, said to be haunted, and on overcast days it can definitely look it, with its Gothic-style architecture, gnarled trees, and crooked, weathered gravestones. I visited Old Sheldon several times in my last few months in the Lowcountry, and simply found it to be an incredibly peaceful – if somewhat sad – place of quiet beauty and serenity…and an amazing location for portraits. If you happen to be making a day or weekend trip from Charleston to Beaufort (or Beaufort to Charleston,) pulling off the main road to experience the Old Sheldon Church Ruins for yourself is an absolute must!
How to Get There:
Address: Old Sheldon Church Road, Yemassee, SC 29945
The Old Sheldon Church Ruins are located 17 miles north of Beaufort, at the corner of Highways 21 and 235. There is parking available across the street, and there is no fee to see the ruins.
Be sure to include a stop at the Carolina Cider Company on your adventure! This roadside shop is close to the ruins and offers that perfect combination of Southern charm and tasty eats with a huge variety of ciders, fresh pies, jams, pickles, and more… and, free samples of it all!