St. Helena Chapel of Ease – St. Helena Island, South Carolina

South Carolina  |  SC Picture Project  |  Beaufort County Photos  |  St. Helena Chapel of Ease

These tabby walls are all that remain of an old chapel-of-ease on St. Helena Island. The chapel was built in the mid-1700s and served the families who owned plantations on St. Helena Island.

Chapel of Ease

Barry Gooch of Port Royal © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The primary parish church, though known as St. Helena’s Church, was actually located in Beaufort, making it too far away for the planters to regularly attend services. Therefore, the Anglican Church established this “chapel of ease” nearer their homes.

Chapel of Ease Beaufort County

Josh Whiteside of Beaufort, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The US Army gained control of South Carolina’s sea islands early in the Civil War. Plantation owners were forced to abandon their land, leaving their slaves behind. The slaves found themselves in legal limbo – no longer enslaved, but not yet officially free.

Chapel of Ease in Beaufort

Megan Pearson of Edgefield, 2012 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Northern missionaries and teachers came south and with support from the federal government, established what came to be known as the Port Royal Experiment – the country’s earliest efforts to educate and train former slaves to work outside of the institution of slavery.

Beaufort SC Chapel of Ease

Megan Pearson of Edgefield, 2012 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

After the Civil War, the church continued to be used as an outpost by a variety of freedmen’s groups. A forest fire destroyed the building in 1886 and it was never repaired.

Chapel of Ease south carolina

Barry Gooch of Port Royal © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Chapel of Ease St Helena

Michael Enloe of Aiken, 2012 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The St. Helena Chapel of Ease is listed in the National Register:

This ruin is significant as a relatively intact example of mid-eighteenth century tabby construction and for its association with the St. Helena Parish, both as a secondary and primary place of worship for inhabitants of the parish. It was built ca. 1740 as a chapel of ease, to serve planters in St. Helena Parish who lived at great distances from the parish church in Beaufort and could not regularly attend services there. By 1812, the population of St. Helena Island had increased to the extent that the chapel of ease was designated a parish church. The church was virtually abandoned when the planters evacuated the island in the fall of 1861. During the Federal occupation of St. Helena, the church was used frequently by several of the Northerners who had come to the island to educate and train the freedmen. It was also used as a sanctuary by Methodist freedmen as early as 1868, but was burned by a forest fire in February 1886 and was never repaired. Much of its historic fabric, including the church walls and much of its plaster, remains. A small cemetery adjacent to the church ruin contributes to the historic character of the property.

Chapel of Ease – Getting Married

The Parish Church of St. Helena in Beaufort manages the Chapel of Ease and the ruins at the Old Sheldon Church. To learn more about the church’s wedding policy, please call the church office at 843.522.1712.

St. Helena Chapel of Ease Info

Address: Lands End Road near Saturns Circle, St Helena Island, SC 29920

St. Helena Chapel of Ease Map

St. Helena Chapel of Ease – Add Info and More Photos

The purpose of the South Carolina Picture Project is to celebrate the beauty of the Palmetto State and create a permanent digital repository for our cultural landmarks and natural landscapes. We invite you to add additional pictures (paintings, photos, etc) of St. Helena Chapel of Ease, and we also invite you to add info, history, stories, and travel tips. Together, we hope to build one of the best and most loved SC resources in the world!

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10 Comments about St. Helena Chapel of Ease

MikeNo Gravatar says:
September 10th, 2014 at 9:47 am

Michele, I’m going there this weekend, will be sure to look and let you know.

MicheleNo Gravatar says:
August 23rd, 2014 at 5:55 am

I’m looking for a headstone: Lynes, 1802-1870. Can someone tell me if it’s there? Thank you.

FrankiNo Gravatar says:
January 6th, 2014 at 12:08 am

Love this place – it is enchanting!

PatriciaNo Gravatar says:
September 3rd, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Rodney, contact St. Helena’s Church in Beaufort, S.C. I so want to visit this site in the near future! It’s just beautiful, and I love the history of S.C.

Elaine of SCNo Gravatar says:
June 19th, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Beautiful. I’d like to visit someday when I visit my hometown. Intriguing.

MariNo Gravatar says:
May 21st, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Getting married here soon :)

KemNo Gravatar says:
April 18th, 2013 at 3:44 pm

I love this place. It is so beautiful. I have visited it many times. Anyone who wants to visit, just make sure you wear long pants and closed toed shoes. The “nettles” are killers.

RodneyNo Gravatar says:
February 26th, 2013 at 11:15 am

Can someone please tell me how to get in touch with the owner of this property?

margaret berryNo Gravatar says:
July 25th, 2011 at 6:46 pm

I’m looking for the slave owners of my fathers family, their last name is Hill.

jennyNo Gravatar says:
September 1st, 2010 at 11:29 am

I love this. Beautiful.


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