New life springs from ashes at Old Sheldon Church near Beaufort (historical and free things to do)

The Old Sheldon Church Ruins and Graveyard are about half an hour drive from both Beaufort and Interstate I-95. The centuries old church is a South Carolina truly inspirational historic site attraction the whole family should enjoy.

Here lay the remains of Prince William’s Parish, better known as Sheldon Church (named after Bull’s family ancestral home back in England). William Bull, the Commissioner for the Sheldon church construction was South Carolina’s Lieutenant Governor and he also assisted in laying out Savannah. His tombstone is currently displayed in the graveyard.

Beaufort Old Sheldon Church ruins

Interesting Facts
1. The Sheldon church was built between 1745 and 1755 and it was burned twice. First by the British Army during the Revolutionary War, then by Sherman’s troupes at the end of the Civil War. Although never rebuilt the church’s pillars and outside walls remained erect withstanding the test of time.

2. The church recently became a very popular location for wedding ceremonies. The spiritual ruins are testimony of endurance in the face of hardship. Surrounded by green lush grass and serene oak trees the Old Sheldon Church is an inspirational and unforgettable wedding setting. With each matrimonial ceremony new life springs from the fire ashes.

3. A public service free for anyone to attend is held annually on the Second Sunday after Easter

4. An old hand-operated water pump close to the gate is still functioning and is quite popular with kids as shown in this video with my 4 years old.

5. There is space for only 2 two cars to park safely on the side of the road; however there is an event parking overflow across the gate. 2009 Update More pictures with the grounds I took on my return trip.

Majestic pillars, blue skies and sweet green grass...that's a wedding site to remember!

Majestic pillars, blue skies and sweet green grass...that's a wedding site to remember!

The church is located on Old Sheldon Road off of highway 21 between Beaufort and Yemassee.
Directions: After the intersection between Hwy 21 and 17, continue on Hwy 21. Turn right on Old Sheldon Road. About ¼ mile after you reach a stop sign the historical marker and gate entrance will be on your right. Here is a link to Google Map for the location.

• While in the area visit artistic Beaufort “The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America” and historic Port Royal the first settlement in the New World!

• For one let your spirit soar at St. Helena Church, established in 1712 is the second oldest and yet one of the most vibrant churches in South Carolina.

• Be inspired at the Parris Island Museum showcasing hundreds of U.S. Marines memorabilia, artifacts, pictures and heroic stories from the past 4 centuries.

• If time permits continue your historic drive up to Hunting Island State Park and see the Lighthouse, the only one open to public along the South Carolina Coast.

• Not too far away,and just minutes from I-95, is the exotic and colorful Oyotunji African Village, an authentic and oldest Yoruba-like settlement in North America. Go in the weekends; there’s almost always a traditional celebration or a festival going on (admission is $10 for adults and $5 for kids)

Come experience the rich history and beautiful surroundings of South Carolina Lowcountry!

28 Responses

  1. […] you like seeing old South Carolina churches then you must visit the Old Sheldon Church Ruins, a truly inspirational historical site around […]

  2. […] family attractions around Beaufort: The Lighthouse at the Hunting Island State Park, the Old Sheldon Church Ruins and Graveyard. On St. Helena Island: visit Penn Center and Bailey Museum and the Chapel of […]

  3. I was interested in the time of the Easter service at Old Sheldon Church, can anyone help me please?

  4. im doion a project on the old sheldon church

  5. i mean im doing a project on the old sheldon church

    • would love to know more about your project…do you know of any extant photographs of Sheldon Church from back in the civil war or earlier???

      • Hi Glenn

        No, not really and couldn’t find much on the web either. I’m sure there sould be few photos in an archive place somewhere (like the US National Register of Historic Places).

        I suggest you contact St. Helena church (they do the annual Easter Service at the ruins). Maybe someone there knows something about old photographs.



        Good luck!

  6. I’m interested in having my wedding ceremony at the ruins. Who do I contact for more information?

    • Hi Asheton

      Contact St. Helena’s Parish Church in Beaufort, SC
      (843) 522-1712

      Note that the service has to be performed by an ordained minister.



  7. […] Sheldon Church Posted on June 7, 2009 by shoutabout On my second visit to Beaufort and the “Palmetto Phoenix Church” I discovered touching stories of love, passion, freedom and despair. Old Sheldon Church view as you […]

  8. […] Get inspired on the holy grounds of the Old Sheldon Church, still standing despite being burned twice during Revolutionary and Civil Wars. This is a also very […]

  9. […] my second visit to Beaufort and the “Palmetto Phoenix Church” I discovered touching stories of love, passion, freedom and […]

  10. I am planning a trip to Charleston next week and would like to photograph the church. Could you tell me if there is more light falling on the church in the morning or afternoon?

    • Hi Mark.

      Short answer: I don’t know. I’ve been there twice, both times in early afternoon. There was plenty of sunshine.

      The church is located in a deeply wooded area which may impact sunlight exposure in the morning and at dusk.

      If you can my advice is to go there twice just to make sure (it’s about an hour and 20 min drive from Charleston)

      Good luck!

      • Thanks Elena. I heard back from someone who said the light around 4:00PM is great. I look forward to it.


  11. I am looking for owners of cats found/rescued at the Old Sheldon Church site. If you are one or know one, please contact me.

  12. Re: trying to find owners of cats found at site, I Intended to leave my Thanks. Alley Mason

    • Hi Alley

      Thanks for posting this rescue message. No I’m not the owner nor I’m affiliated with the Church Ruins (I’m just a traveler who fell in love with the site)

      Probably the best thing to do – if possible – is to leave a note at the site. If not, maybe the owner will run into this post as you did.

      Or you just got yourself a new cat 🙂


  13. A satisfying hunting trip demands familiarity with all of them. If the hunter decides to take the services of an outfitter complete with guides and hog hunting dogs, some amount has to be shelled out as license fees.

  14. Hunting of wild boar or wild hog is not permitted all over the United States. It is confined to just 15 states. The popular states are Kentucky, South Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Alabama, Ohio, Florida, Hawaii, Oklahoma and California.

  15. Does anyone have a record of individuals buried at this church or know someone who does? My ancestor, Col. John Carter, died in Beaufort Co. in 1814 or 15 during the War of 1812 and is buried somewhere in Beaufort Co. I was wondering if he was buried here and has a marked grave. His base was Camp Sheldon. I know it’s a long shot but thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask. Thanks.

    • Hi

      Old Sheldon Church is part of St. Helena Parish Church located downtown Beaufort. It is one of the oldest churches in the state. My suggestion is to give them a call at (843) 522-1712 and start your search there.

      Good luck!

  16. “Sherman’s troupes at the [beginning (?)] of the Civil War.”

    Someone should edit this to the END of the Civil War.

  17. Old Sheldon Church Ruins is a beautiful wedding location and nearby Richfield Plantation is a great place for a reception.

  18. Just one correction to your driving directions. You must continue South on US 17 from the intersection with US 21 and Sheldon Church Road will be about a half mile on the right. US 21 takes you to Beaufort. Since the time of the original post, SCDOT has rebuilt the 17/21 intersection so it is less confusing.

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