Old St. David’s Episcopal Church – Cheraw, South Carolina
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St. David’s Episcopal Church in Cheraw formed in 1768. Members named their church for the Patron Saint of Wales to honor the native country of many Cheraw settlers. Construction on the building began in 1770, and it was the last Anglican church in South Carolina built under the rule of King George III. The church was used as a hospital in both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.
St. David’s became Episcopalian in 1819, and in 1826 members renovated the building to create the current structure. In 1916 the church moved to its present Market Street location. The Chesterfield County Historic Preservation Commission owns and maintains the old St. David’s church building.
Cheraw’s Director of Tourism and Community Development, David Sides, shares the following: “The center section of Old St. David’s Church is very similar to how it appeared upon completion in 1774. The last parish established under King George the Third, the church’s box pews have been reconstructed, and the high pulpit, made of polished black walnut, was reconstructed following research on surviving pulpits throughout South Carolina. The stair handrail is the original.
“Anglican churches of this period were very plain with the primary focus on the preaching rather than the altar. The pews all face the pulpit, and most likely there was no lighting or heat. The stairs leading up to the slave gallery were moved to the new vestibule in 1826. At this same time, the steeple and the vestry room on the rear were also added. The interior shutters were installed in 1856.”
The churchyard of Old St. David’s is also a point of historical interest. Below is the first monument ever erected in honor of Confederate veterans who lost their lives in the Civil War. According to David Sides, the monument was placed on the grounds of St. Davids in 1867 by the women of Cheraw and deliberately omitted any mention of Confederate soldiers, as Union troops were still occupying the town. The inscription is taken from General Stonewall Jackson’s last words: “We have crossed over the river and rest in the shade of the trees.”
The Old St. David’s Episcopal Church is listed in the National Register, which adds the following information:
One of the states’ few remaining pre-Revolutionary War church buildings, Saint David’s Parish was established by act of General Assembly 1768 and named for the patron saint of Wales, from which many Cheraw settlers had come. The building was used as a hospital during both the American Revolution and Civil War. The church is a unique example of eighteenth century meeting house construction. The original 1770-1773 frame building has entrances on the south side and west end, five windows on one side, six on the other and two at the east end. In the early 1800s a vestibule and square steeple were added at the western end. The steeple rising from the gable ridge pole possesses diminishing sections with louvered openings—sections are surrounded by wooden parapets with corner pinnacles, all surmounted by a cross. There are dentils under the cornice of each section.
Old St. David’s Episcopal Church Info
Address: 91 Church Street, Cheraw, SC 29520
Old St. David’s Episcopal Church Map
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