The Parish Church of St. Helena

Beaufort’s towering glory

st helenas beaufort, sc
The St Helena steeple towers over Beaufort. Photo Credit: Robert Gecy

With a steeple that towers over the town of Beaufort, SC, the Parish Church of St. Helena is one of the oldest churches in North America. Established in 1712 as a colonial parish of the Church of England, this church still serves the community it surrounds. The original church was almost completely demolished in 1824 to allow for an expansive rebuild.

st helenas beaufort, sc
Photo Credit: Denise Berry

The church and grounds were used by the Union Army as a hospital during their occupation of Beaufort during the Civil War. It is rumored that they even used slabs from the graveyard as operating tables.

st helenas beaufort, sc
The cemetery and back view of the church.
Photo Credit Luciano Periera do Souza

Luckily the church was spared from ruin, and after the war services resumed. The church was preserved, and its steeple tower was extended in 1942. The historic church boasts white pillared columns on its stately exterior

st helenas beaufort, sc
Cemetery image by Matt Zeigler.

The neighboring churchyard is just as historically significant as the church itself. Many founding fathers of Beaufort are buried here. One of the first church members laid to rest here was Colonel John Barnwell, also known as Tuscarora Jack. He was an important officer during the Tuscarora (1712) and Yemassee Wars (1715). Two British officers killed during the Battle of Port Royal are buried here as well. It is also the resting place of two Confederate officers. Lt General Richard H Anderson and Brigadier General Stephen Elliott.

Grave stone image by Becca Brashear.

While visiting Beaufort stroll over and explore the church and its graveyard. Be sure to bring a camera to capture the beautiful church exterior and gravestones dating back to the 1700s. Your visit will give you a look back in time to the beginnings of this great and historic city.

st helenas beaufort, sc
Steeple view by Michael Miller.

The church is located along Church Street, just a few blocks away from the Beaufort River waterfront and Bay Street.
Old Churchyard Cemetery Brief History & Map

For more information on this and other Beaufort treasures visit southcarolinalowcountry.com/beaufort-port-royal-area.


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