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St. Helena Chapel of Ease — St. Helena Island, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Beaufort County  |  St. Helena Chapel of Ease

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St. Helena Chapel of Ease

These tabby walls are all that remain of an old chapel-of-ease on St. Helena Island. The chapel was built in the mid-1700s and served the families who owned plantations on St. Helena Island.

St. Helena Chapel of Ease Facade

Rebecca W. Bass of Beaufort, 2019 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The primary parish church, though known as St. Helena’s Church, was actually located in Beaufort, making it too far away for the planters to regularly attend services. Therefore, the Anglican Church established this “chapel of ease” nearer their homes.

Helena's Chapel of Ease

Amanda Schmidt of Orlando, FL, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The federal government gained control of South Carolina’s sea islands early in the Civil War. Plantation owners were forced to abandon their land, leaving their slaves behind. The slaves found themselves in legal limbo – no longer enslaved, but not yet officially free.

St Helena Chapel of Ease Rear

Jacque Pieterse Barr of Georgetown, 2019 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Northern missionaries and teachers came south and with support from the federal government, established what came to be known as the Port Royal Experiment – the country’s earliest effort to educate and train former slaves to work outside of the institution of slavery.

Chapel of Ease with Mausoleum in View

Jack Durnin of Charleston, 2018 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

After the Civil War, the church continued to be used as an outpost by a variety of freedmen’s groups. A forest fire destroyed the building in 1886 and it was never repaired. The stereoscopic view (seen below) depicts the chapel before it was destroyed by fire.

St. Helena Chapel of Ease Before Fire

The St. Helena Chapel of Ease is listed in the National Register:

This ruin is significant as a relatively intact example of mid-eighteenth century tabby construction and for its association with the St. Helena Parish, both as a secondary and primary place of worship for inhabitants of the parish. It was built ca. 1740 as a chapel of ease, to serve planters in St. Helena Parish who lived at great distances from the parish church in Beaufort and could not regularly attend services there. By 1812, the population of St. Helena Island had increased to the extent that the chapel of ease was designated a parish church. The church was virtually abandoned when the planters evacuated the island in the fall of 1861. During the Federal occupation of St. Helena, the church was used frequently by several of the Northerners who had come to the island to educate and train the freedmen. It was also used as a sanctuary by Methodist freedmen as early as 1868, but was burned by a forest fire in February 1886 and was never repaired. Much of its historic fabric, including the church walls and much of its plaster, remains. A small cemetery adjacent to the church ruin contributes to the historic character of the property.

St. Helena Chapel of Ease – Wedding Venue

The Parish Church of St. Helena in Beaufort manages the Chapel of Ease and the ruins at the Old Sheldon Church. Couples wishing to be married at the site must be members of the parish.

St. Helena Chapel of Ease

Mike Tillison of Orangeburg, 2019 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

More Pictures of the St. Helena Chapel of Ease

St. Helena Chapel of Ease Interior with Sky

Sean Keefer of Charleston, 2019 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Chapel of Ease in the Fall

Jack Durnin of Charleston, 2018 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

St. Helena Chapel of Ease Aerial

Rebecca W. Bass of Beaufort, 2019 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Chapel of Ease Grounds

Jack Durnin of Charleston, 2018 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

St. Helena Island Chapel of Ease Rear

Conrad Kuiper of Clinton, Canada, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

St Helena Chapel of Ease Iron Fence Detail

Jacque Pieterse Barr of Georgetown, 2019 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

St. Helena Chapel of Ease Ruins and Mausoleum

Jacque Pieterse Barr of Georgetown, 2019 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Chapel of Ease Tabby Detail

Jack Durnin of Charleston, 2018 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Chapel of Ease

Barry Gooch of Port Royal © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

St. Helena Chapel of Ease Info

Address: Lands End Road near Saturns Circle, St Helena Island, SC 29920
GPS Coordinates: 32.375601,-80.576650

St. Helena Chapel of Ease Map

Please Share Your Thoughts!

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20 Comments about St. Helena Chapel of Ease

Larry Rix says:
September 12th, 2019 at 8:17 am

My wife and I love to take tangential drives in odd directions. We stumbled into this while it was shrouded in fog. As such, it is one of the most stunning finds we’ve ever discovered as we drive the roads and back roads of our home while we explore! This place and its history is awesome. We invite you to explore and come and see!

Diane Rivera says:
August 8th, 2019 at 2:41 pm

My grandmother lived here, and I wonder if her name or her mother’s name are listed somewhere as parishioners … last name Pennington.

Christopher Corbett says:
February 2nd, 2020 at 9:45 am

Diane, you can check with the Diocese of Charleston.

SC Picture Project says:
May 3rd, 2019 at 6:44 pm

We agree, it is a beautiful place. It is not just a children’s cemetery and the vault contains Edgar and Elizabeth Fripp, they once owned nearby Seaside Plantation. A listing of their memorial can be found here: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/21385857/edgar-fripp

Dianne Gassman says:
May 3rd, 2019 at 1:40 pm

We just visited the site and noticed from the stones there are a lot of little children buried there. A beautiful peaceful place built in the 1700s and still standing today in 2019. Love the tabby, you can see the shells. I would like to know if this was just a children’s cemetery and who was buried in the vault.

Jeannie Ilderton Frederick says:
February 27th, 2019 at 5:00 pm

These photos are all incredibly beautiful, and I’d love to have them and others from the beauty of the South altogether w/ other photos of such great quality, in a coffee table book to share w/ family and my friends. They’d all want to go there and see more.

Vicki Cook says:
February 12th, 2019 at 4:59 pm

Can you give me any history on the fencing around the graves.

St. Helena Chapel of Ease – A Weekend Tourist says:
June 6th, 2018 at 9:18 am

[…] SCIWAY Entry […]

SCIWAY says:
June 8th, 2015 at 8:53 am

Hi, Patricia. According to the parish church, people must now be members of St. Helena’s in Beaufort in order to be married at the site. Here is the church’s website for further information: http://www.sthelenas1712.org/

Patricia Jordan says:
June 7th, 2015 at 5:27 pm

I am an out of towner and I’d love to have my wedding at the St. Helena chapel of Ease. How can I do that?

Mike says:
September 10th, 2014 at 9:47 am

Michele, I’m going there this weekend, will be sure to look and let you know.

Michele says:
August 23rd, 2014 at 5:55 am

I’m looking for a headstone: Lynes, 1802-1870. Can someone tell me if it’s there? Thank you.

Franki says:
January 6th, 2014 at 12:08 am

Love this place – it is enchanting!

Patricia says:
September 3rd, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Rodney, contact St. Helena’s Church in Beaufort, S.C. I so want to visit this site in the near future! It’s just beautiful, and I love the history of S.C.

Elaine of SC says:
June 19th, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Beautiful. I’d like to visit someday when I visit my hometown. Intriguing.

Mari says:
May 21st, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Getting married here soon 🙂

Kem says:
April 18th, 2013 at 3:44 pm

I love this place. It is so beautiful. I have visited it many times. Anyone who wants to visit, just make sure you wear long pants and closed toed shoes. The “nettles” are killers.

Rodney says:
February 26th, 2013 at 11:15 am

Can someone please tell me how to get in touch with the owner of this property?

margaret berry says:
July 25th, 2011 at 6:46 pm

I’m looking for the slave owners of my fathers family, their last name is Hill.

jenny says:
September 1st, 2010 at 11:29 am

I love this. Beautiful.


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