Besides the occasional deteriorated frame house or farm building, I haven’t come across many building ruins. (The most memorable being the Horton House on Jekyll Island.) On my most recent trip to South Carolina’s Lowcountry, I sought out examples of church ruins that played a part in the Revolutionary War, which I believe is an underappreciated part of South Carolina’s history.
Probably the only reason the three structures I visited — Biggin Church, Pon Pon Chapel, and Old Sheldon Church — remain partially standing is that they are surrounded by graves. However, I was impressed to see what lengths preservationists had gone to sturdy the aforementioned churches — particularly Pon Pon Chapel.
Biggin Church was built in 1761 near Moncks Corner. It was the local Anglican church for American Revolution heroes Williams Moultrie and Henry Laurens, who both had plantations nearby.
The church was used by British soldiers to store ammunition. (The Battle of Biggin Church was there in 1781.) The British burned the church down upon their retreat. The church was rebuilt but damaged during the Civil War and burnt down for good in 1886. Subsequently, it was used as a brickyard.
Biggin Church is in need of repairs. Many loose bricks litter the site, and the mortar has been reduced to sand in places.
The Pon Pon Chapel of Ease was built in 1754 near Jacksonboro. It was a landmark during the Revolutionary War and burned down sometime in the late 1700s or early 1800s. It was rebuilt but damaged again in 1832 and left to rot.
Tablet at the former chapel entrance.
The ruins were damaged by a hurricane in 1959 and underwent restoration work in the 1970s. A support holds up the front facade.
A few miles from Pon Pon Chapel is the grave of Patriot Col. Isaac Hayne, who was executed by the British.
His death caused such an uproar, some Patriots called for the execution of British Gen. Cornwallis in retribution.
Old Sheldon Church was completed in 1755 about 15 miles north of Beaufort. It has the distinction of being burned by both British and Union soldiers. It was never rebuilt after the Civil War.
The site hosts weddings and a religious service every year around Easter.
William Bull, who helped lay out Savannah, is buried in the middle.
Admiring the ruins.