Cheraw is known for the annual SC Jazz Festival honoring its native son, music phenom Dizzy Gillespie. “The prettiest town in Dixie” proudly boasts amazing churches, historic houses, theater and businesses from colonial and Civil War times.
Old Saint David’s Church was the last Anglican Parish to be established in South Carolina under King George III, in 1768 (completed in 1774).
It was named for David, patron saint of Wales, quite appropriate given the first major settlement in Old Cheraws was the “Welsh Neck”.
In 1819, the Episcopalians claimed Old St. David Church. In 1826, they changed the rectangular jerkin-head structure to its present day form and added the steeple, vestibule and vestry. The cross on the steeple was added in 1883.
In 1916, the congregation moved to a new church on Market Street.
In the 1970’s the church donated the building to the Chesterfield County Historic Preservation Commission, who restored it to the 1826 period.
The central section appears much like it did in 1774. Mr. Neil Meetze constructed the pulpit of “polished black walnut built together with a clerks desk, staircase, and banister, after the model of the Georgetown pulpit”. At the time, Anglican churches were very plain, with the focus on preaching rather than aesthetics and comfort. There was no heat and no electricity.
After the American Revolution, the Anglican Church was disestablished and the Vestry ceased to meet. In 1819, the Episcopal Church, successor to the Church of England in America, reclaimed Old St. David’s church. The first settled clergyman was Rev. Arthur Fowler.
Two Bishops were rectors of Old St. David’s. Rev. Alexander Gregg was rector from 1846 to 1859. He authored A History of the Old Cheraws and also became the first Episcopal Bishop of Texas. The last rector was Rev. Albert Thomas, who designed the new church. He went on to become Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina and author of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.
Interesting monuments in the Old St. David’s Church cemetery
In the church’s cemetery rest soldiers who fought in all of America’s major wars. During the Revolution the church was used as a hospital by both armies. Here is a monument for the officers of the British “Highlanders” regiment, commanded by Maj. McArthur. Many of his soldiers became ill with chicken pox and are buried in an unmarked mass grave in front of the church.
Note the grave of Moses Rogers, famous commander of the SS Savannah, who in 1819 took the first steamboat over the Atlantic. Interestingly, the monument was paid for by the Catholics of Texas! People of many faiths are buried in the cemetery, proof once more of the love and respect for the old parish church.
The first Confederate Monument was built here, in the Old St. David’s Church Cemetery in 1867
“Amid the changes of time and civil rule, only the old parish church remained to tell its tale in the associations and traditions connected with earlier days.” Rt. Rev. Alexander Gregg, “A History of the Old Cheraws”
Visit Cheraw to enjoy one of the most beloved and old Anglican churches in South Carolina!
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