St. James Parish – Goose Creek, South Carolina
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One of the first churches built in the colonies, St. James Parish Church located near Goose Creek, was completed in 1719. The parish was one of nine formed in South Carolina following the Church Act of 1706, which established the Church of England as the official state church. A wooden church was initially built for the St. James Parish, which was soon replaced by this stucco-covered brick church. Construction began on the church in 1713, and it was completed in 1719. Slaves most likely built the church for British planters, who settled here from Barbados in order to establish a new colony.
Notable exterior features of the church include decorative mortar work. Above each arched window sits a stucco cherub’s head, and above the entrance are five flaming hearts. Within the triangular pediment over the double doors rests a stuccoed pelican piercing her breast in order to feed her brood (detailed photo below). The bird is a symbol then used by the Anglican Society representing the Propagation of the Gospel, as the church had been sending funds from London to support parishes in the new colony.
Inside the church the Royal coat of arms graces the area above the pulpit. During the American Revolution, British troops were ordered to burn Lowcountry homes and churches as they left, but legend claims St. James was spared because of the church’s display of the coat of arms (below).
Members of General William Moultrie‘s family are buried within the churchyard of St. James Parish.
St. James Parish is listed in the National Register:
Built 1713-1719 by early planters from Barbados, St. James Goose Creek is one of the earliest Georgian churches in the English colonies. The building is not only early, but generally recognized as one of the real architectural beauties in a category of small eighteenth century parish churches. St. James’ Church is a small, compact, rectangular one-story structure with stucco covered brick walls, and a slate jerkinhead roof. The round arched windows of the church are protected by exterior wooden shutters and framed by plaster architraves adorned with cherub’s heads. The corners of the building are marked by large quoins, and a small stucco cornice adorns the eaves line. The vestry was incorporated in 1778, and it is said that the presence of the royal coat of arms over the pulpit saved the church from destruction in 1779-1780 when British troops moved through South Carolina during the American Revolution. Services were discontinued during the latter part of the war, and the Church of England was disestablished. The revival of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina took place gradually from 1795-1817.
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St. James Parish Info
Address: 100 Vestry Lane, Goose Creek, SC 29445
GPS Coordinates: 32.975483,-80.032627
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