Ruins of Sheldon Church

Over 120 years have passed since Sheldon Church fell into disrepair. It has lost its gable roof, pediment, windows, and interior, but its classic simplicity in design has not changed.

Brykoon, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
The Sheldon Church, which was formerly known as the Prince William Parish Church, has a long and turbulent history. The church has followed the difficulties of our nation’s history, from its first service in 1757 to its current tranquil setting. It was one of the first temple-style churches built in the United States.

The Old Sheldon Church Ruins is a historic site in the Sheldon area of northern Beaufort County, South Carolina, about 17 miles (30 kilometers) north of Beaufort.

Upstateherd, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
The church was named Sheldon in honor of the Bull family’s ancestral home in England when William Bull, whose Newberry Plantation bordered the church grounds, organized and funded it in the 1740s and 1750s. During the Revolutionary War, British troops led by General Augustine Prevost set fire to the church in 1779. Between 1825 and 1826, the remaining walls were used to rebuild it.

According to tradition, as part of General Sherman’s “March to the Sea” campaign, on January 14, 1865, close to the end of the Civil War, his troops set fire to the church a second time. The church was not repaired again while the walls continued to resist falling.

However, a different potential outcome has surfaced. Milton Leverett stated, in a letter dated February 3, 1866, that “Sheldon Church not burned’t.”

ljb06, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
The interior is only torn up, but it can be fixed. Whites and blacks, apparently in search of materials to rebuild their homes that had been destroyed by Sherman’s army, destroyed the interior of Sheldon Church.

It is important to note that the Old Sheldon Church Ruins are on private land. The Beaufort-based St. Helena’s Church owns and manages the property.


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