What do a tree, house and church have to do with each other? Other than all three being very old and found in South Carolina, they are not connected. I found these three places intriguing and special in their own way, so wanted to write about them but didn’t want to do a separate blog post about each one. So, I have combined them to share my visits.
There are many, many large oak trees in the Deep South including South Carolina, but the Angel Tree definitely stands apart. I am not sure if it is the largest live oak but it is certainly one of the largest. Over 66 feet tall, it has a circumference of 28 feet and shade from this tree covers 17,200 feet. The longest branch is 187 feet from one tip to the other. Located on Johns Island near Charleston, the tree is estimated to be between 400 – 500 years old. One of the signs I read reported that the tree could be expected to live another 500 years. Other signs warn not to climb, sit or stand on the tree but touching is okay including a “gentle hug.” You just have to touch a tree this massive and old, I sure did and spent some time soaking up its majesty.
The tree has limbs jutting out in all directions with a number laying along the ground. As you can see from the picture above, it looks like a tangled mess! In a few places there are posts supporting the branches. Do you notice all the greenery covering the top of these branches? They are called resurrection ferns, an epiphyte living on water and air that is common on live oak trees. During dry spells the ferns shrivel up like they are dead and turn a brown color. When it rains again, they perk right up and look like lush green ferns. The City of Charleston manages the property and tree and has visitation hours. There is also a gift shop nearby for the tree which I found a little amusing, but didn’t take the time to visit. Live oaks are one of my favorite trees so I was quite pleased to be able to see this “Angel.”
Drayton Hall was founded in 1738 and is considered the oldest preserved house still open to the public in the United States. This historic home is unique in that it has never been restored, only preserved as is from the time it was built. Therefore the home has no period furnishings to admire and give a taste of what it was like to live in the home. It might sound boring to tour an empty house, but it is actually the opposite. Instead of focusing on furniture, paintings, decorations, I could look at the floors, walls, ceilings, moldings, windows, shutters, doors, etc. and really notice and appreciate the details of the home itself. I wasn’t busy trying to look at every knick knack that often fills historic homes. We were also able to walk through each room in the house, including the ground floor under the porch where the slaves and servants cooked the family’s meals.
The home is located off the same road as Magnolia Plantation and Middleton Place, both I reviewed in earlier posts. It doesn’t have the grand gardens of the other two but is still in a beautiful location on a large property with a huge sweeping lawn up to the house. I am really glad someone mentioned in a Trip Advisor review to check out the pond in front of the house for the reflection. It was my favorite view.
Before coming to South Carolina I found an internet site about Old Sheldon Church and knew I wanted to visit here. I love seeing historic churches as I travel and this church which is in ruins is one of my all time favorites. Located near the town of Beaufort in the Lowcountry, the church is located off a country road with not much around. It is on private property maintained by another church which is reportedly near by, but we did not see it.
When it was built in the 1750’s it was called Prince William’s Parish Church. The church has an interesting history in that it was partially burned during the Revolutionary War by the British and then rebuilt in 1826. It was burned again by the Union Army during the Civil War in 1865. The story is that when Sherman’s Army made its famous march from Georgia through South Carolina leaving a path of destruction in the South, the church was again burned.
Since the church is not fenced, you can walk around the outside and inside, admiring the old brickwork, columns and window openings. It has a lot of atmosphere with old tombs and grave markers outside the back of the church adding to the mood of the place.
This church was probably quite a handsome building in its much earlier days and the remains today are impressive as well. I am very glad that it still stands even though two wars, age and weather have tried to tear it down!
As always, thanks for reading and your support! In the next blog we leave South Carolina for North Carolina and Virginia. I will close with one of my favorite places to be – a cypress swamp. This picture is from Caw Caw Interpretive Center, a wildlife refuge outside of Charleston.