St. Philip’s Church at Brunswick Town

IMG_2434

I first started writing about churches at the beginning of Lent. In some countries, it is customary to visit seven churches during Holy Week. I knew that I could not visit seven churches in one week, but felt like I could talk about seven different churches over the season of Lent. So far, we have talked about:

St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Wilmington, NC; Santo Thomas Catholic Church in Chichicastenango, Guatemala; Chapel of the Holy Cross Catholic Church in Sedona, AZ, the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist Episcopalian Church in Savannah, GA and Ann Street Methodist Church in Beaufort, NC. 

IMG_2438

The sixth church on my list is St. Phillip’s Anglican Church. St. Philip’s is not an active church anymore, but rather ruins of a previous church. It was occupied for only 8 years, from 1768-1776, when the British set it on fire during an attack. The walls of the church are the only thing that remain. The church is located in Brunswick town, a “colonial ghost town” along the Cape Fear River in an area that was originally inhabited by Native Americans who were defeated in the Tuscarora War in 1715.  

IMG_2439

In 1862, during the Civil War, Confederate Army soldiers built trenches and a fort in Brunswick Town. It was eventually named Fort Anderson.  In 1865, when Union soldiers attacked and defeated Confederate soldiers at Fort Anderson, some of the graves at St. Philip’s church were desecrated and Confederate bodies were left inside the church.

IMG_2449

In the 1950’s, archaeologists began excavating the area around St. Philip’s and Ft. Anderson. They were able to find many historical artifacts, including the foundations of various structures, old bullets and “bombproofs” which were shelters used during enemy bombardment. Excavations are still ongoing and archaeologists continue to find artifacts.

In 1978, the area was listed in the National Register of Historic Places and more recently the television show, “Sleepy Hollow”, used the site as a set location for some of its episodes.

IMG_2459

IMG_2460

(Yikes)

I visited the site in the 1980’s as a teenager and did not return again until recently, when I decided to write about it. I walked around inside the shell of the church and toured the grounds. Due to the multitude of historical tragedies that occurred in the area, an air of creepiness hovers about the site. Honestly, that is probably what drew me there as a teenager. However, and on the other hand, it is genuinely fascinating and quite lovely, as well. There is ample space for walking, a trail that extends along the river and lush, old trees all around the property.

IMG_2452IMG_2454IMG_2458

 

 

Ann Street Methodist Church and Old Burying Ground

FullSizeRender (53)

My introduction to the Ann Street Methodist Church occurred when I visited the Old Burying Ground in Beaufort, NC. Beaufort, founded in 1709, is the third-oldest city in North Carolina. It is a town rich in history with stories from the civil war, pre-civil war and even Blackbeard the pirate who ran his ship ashore in 1719. The Old Burying Ground, the town’s oldest cemetery,  is located between two churches on Ann St: First Baptist Church and Ann Street Methodist Church which was established in 1778.

Ann St UMC inside stained glass

(Photo credit: Ann Street United Methodist Church)

Ann Street Methodist Church has its own stories. During the civil war, Union soldiers moved into the church. The sanctuary was used as a field hospital then later it was also used as a hospital during the yellow fever. The cemetery entrance is to the side of the church with the grounds stretching behind the church.

IMG_1771

Upon entering the burying grounds, one can take a brochure which highlights the graves in the cemetery. I, myself, am a fan of cemeteries, not because of some morbid curiosity, but rather because of the stories that they tell. Each grave is a snapshot both into someone’s life and into the times in which they lived. Here are a few interesting snapshots taken directly from the brochure:

 

Pierre Henry (1812-1877) — and Annie Henry (1816-1904) African Americans who were leaders in the education of emancipated slaves and their children at the Washburn Seminary. He was born free during the period of slavery. The school was one of many established in the South by the Congregational Churches of the North following the Civil War.

 

Captain John Sabiston (1800’s) — Died near Charleston, S.C. and was brought home by his crew. People gathered by the wharf at the foot of Turner Street as his body was taken off his ship. They followed as it was taken on a bier through the dark streets of town to the graveyard and lowered into the readied grave by torch light.

 

Sarah Gibbs (d.1792) & Jacob Shepard (d.1773) — Sarah was married to Jacob Shepard, a seaman. Jacob’s ship went to sea, but never returned. He was presumed to be dead. Later, Sarah married Nathaniel Gibbs and had a child with him. After an absence of several years, the shipwrecked Jacob Shepard unexpectedly returned to Beaufort to find his wife married to another man. The two men agreed that Sarah would remain with Gibbs as long as she lived, but must spend eternity at the side of Jacob Shepard.

 

“Crissie Wright” Common Grave — “Cold as the night the ‘Crissie Wright’ went ashore” is still heard around Beaufort. The sailors who froze to death after the wreck of that ship in January, 1886 are buried together in this grave. It is said this tragedy led to the establishment of the Cape Lookout Lifesaving Station in 1887.

 

Girl in Barrel of Rum — Here is the grave of a girl buried in a barrel of rum. In the 1700s an English family, including an infant daughter, came to Beaufort. The girl grew up with a desire to see her homeland, and finally persuaded her mother to allow her to make the voyage. Her father promised his wife he would return the girl safely. The girl enjoyed her visit to London, but died on the voyage home. She would have been buried at sea, but her father could not bear to break his promise. He purchased a barrel of rum from the captain, placed her body in it, and brought it to Beaufort for burial.

 

Can you imagine the reaction to a story like the Girl in Barrel of Rum if it were to happen today?

OBG

(Photo Credit: Old Burying Ground)

If you ever get the chance to visit Beaufort, I encourage you to stop by the Old Burying Ground behind Ann St Methodist Church. Afterwards, there are several quaint restaurants and coffee houses in case you are hungry or just need a little pick me up. I’m particularly fond of the Chai Latte at the Beaufort Coffee shop on Turner St.

Have a great weekend, all!

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

I’m fortunate enough to have an old group of girlfriends with which to travel from time to time. As a group, we’ve taken several “girls weekends” together. We’re all scattered across North Carolina so the trips have generally been around the south for close proximity: Savannah, Myrtle Beach, Topsail Island, Beaufort, Williamsburg and more. I’ve known these ladies for years. For me, the relationships date back to college or shortly after; for a few of them they date back even further. We’ve even named our group: SWAGs. It stands for Southern Women Aging Gracefully. I’m not sure who came up with it. It wasn’t me. Truthfully, it took a while for me to really embrace the name, mostly because I didn’t feel old. Now, in my forties, I’ve finally started to grow into it.

 

It’s often a challenge to schedule our weekends. There are seven of us with busy and differing schedules. A couple of the ladies are single. The rest are married with children. A few work full or part-time jobs. Others are stay-at-home moms or have gone back to school. And not every SWAG can make it on every trip, but we’ve had some good ones throughout the years. I was terribly excited the year we went to Savannah. We rented a beach house on Tybee Island, 30 minutes from Savannah, and spent part of our time relaxing on the beach. We also spent some time in downtown Savannah. We strolled the streets, visited the shops, and ate lunch (shrimp and grits for me). We toured cemeteries and even took a haunted carriage ride as it became dark later in the day. I loved Savannah. It was eclectic, dripping with history, but also populated with young artsy hipsters.

IMG_2256

FullSizeRender (50)

We encountered the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist during our exploration of downtown Savannah. St. John’s, a Victorian Gothic cathedral, is the oldest Roman Catholic church in Georgia. It was founded by French Catholic emigres from Haiti in the 1700’s.  The original building suffered a fire in 1898, but was rebuilt in 1900. It was larger than life in every sense of the word. In order to find the cathedral we followed the steeples from a distance, and once we entered the church, it did not disappoint. From the stained-glass windows to the ornate altar to the images of the crucifixion displayed around the church, it was one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever visited.

Below are some more of the photos I took of the Cathedral.

You can see additional pictures at the link above.

IMG_2251

Have a great Saturday, all!