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Explore the City of Beaufort SC
Best Things to See and Do

Saint Helena Episcopal Church


The Saint Helena Episcopal Church in the City of Beaufort SC dates back to the early 1700s. It‘s now a Beaufort landmark located on Church Street.

This one small building of worship in Beaufort SC has gone through many changes over the years. Although there were many renovations and extensions to the building, a complete rebuilding occurred in 1769 and again in 1817. Another extensive renovation project took place in 1842.

The Beaufort County SC historic site now is very serene and tranquil. I thought the large live oaks and Spanish moss added a great deal of mysterious, haunting beauty to the grounds.

Today visitors are welcome to tour the building and grounds and discover the fascinating role they played in Beaufort SC area's history through the years. The Spirit of Old Beaufort walking tour that includes this church is one that I highly recommend.

I liked having a personal guide on hand to explain the history and answer questions about the City of Beaufort SC. There are people in period costumes waiting to greet you at all of the different stops, even at St Helena’s Episcopal Church.

What to Look For at the Church in Beaufort SC

During the Civil War the Northern troops ravaged the entire church and transformed it into a hospital. They went as far as removing the tops from crypts to use as operating tables for the wounded. Many of the larger grave markers were also removed and used in a similar fashion.


It is worth noting that the altar used at the church today was a gift from the crew of the USS New Hampshire, which was once stationed in Beaufort County SC years after the War Between the States.

When we went inside the church, our guide sang a song, “God Save the South”. This is the song that the people of Beaufort SC sang at this very church shortly before the Union troops took over the City of Beaufort SC.

The graveyard of the church is the burial place for many famous historical figures dating back to the Revolutionary War. History buffs can visit the site where Colonel John Barnwell’s remains were laid to rest. This officer died in 1724 and is referred to as “Tuscarora Jack”.

His grave, and many others, is located underneath the church building. There are English officers buried on the property as well, and these graves can be seen on the western portion of the churchyard near a brick walkway.

These men died during a Port Royal battle, and it was Barnwell who insisted that they be given an appropriate burial service in the City of Beaufort SC. If you walk along the northern grounds you will be in the non-consecrated area that was set aside for burials of suicide victims.

What Else to Look For at this
Beaufort County SC Historic Church


One of the more interesting graves to see is that of Dr. Perry who insisted on being laid to rest with an axe, some bread and a container of water. It seems that he had a fear of being buried alive by mistake.

He rationalized that he could survive and escape with these objects at his disposal. I did not see any signs of any escape attempts when I looked at the gravesite, but you can be certain that I looked very closely at these graves in Beaufort County SC.

There are graves of Confederate soldiers also located on this property and the list includes Lieutenant General Richard Anderson and Stephen Elliott, who achieved the rank of Brigadier General.

Anderson was a cadet at West Point when the Civil War began. He resigned his commission in order to fight with other soldiers from Beaufort SC.

Brigadier General Elliott began his military career in Beaufort SC where he became Captain of the Volunteer Artillery militia. He fought in Virginia and was promoted after being wounded at Petersburg. As you can tell this historical church is worth visiting while in the City of Beaufort SC.

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