All Saints Church – Pawleys Island, South Carolina
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All Saints Church rests on the mainland of Pawleys Island, not far from the Waccamaw River that brought parisioners to worship from their neighboring plantations. The chapel pictured below, built in 1917, is the fourth to serve the congregation.
The first chapel was a frame building erected on this site some time around 1737. The land had been previously owned by Percival Pawley, the island’s namesake. Anglican services were held in the simple structure, which acted as a chapel of ease for local planters in the Prince George Winyah Parish. When All Saints Parish was formed from the Prince George Winyah Parish in 1767, the chapel served as the All Saints parish church.
The wooden chapel served the congregation until 1798 when it was destroyed by fire. A second wooden chapel was constructed in its place and stood here for 45 years. It was replaced in 1843 by a more ornate Greek Revival sanctuary. The third edifice survived several major hurricanes, but unfortunately, it was also destroyed by fire in 1915. The current structure, completed in 1917, replicates the 1843 church, though it is smaller.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, All Saints was one of the most notable Episcopal churches in South Carolina, serving many of the leading planters, politicians, lawyers, and public figures of antebellum Georgetown County. An Episcopal committee’s report from 1860 noted that, prior to the Civil War, All Saints Parish contained “more wealth than any other rural parish in South Carolina, or perhaps in the South.” All Saints Church left The Episcopal Church in 2004 and is now affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America.
The Legend of Alice
The churchyard at All Saints is full headstones bearing the name of a well-known Pawleys Island family, the Flaggs, along with the name’s accompanying lore. While the graveyard is considered to be both beautiful and historical, that is not what draws visitors to walk its grounds. Many come here looking for the grave of Alice Flagg, who lived at the nearby Hermitage, and others hope the graveyard will lead to an encounter with her spirit. Alice’s father, Ebenezer, died when she was a young girl, leaving her to be raised by her brother, Dr. Allard Belin Flagg. Sadly, Alice died in 1849 at the age of 16, likely from malaria. Local folklore places her grave – as well as her ghost – in the All Saints churchyard alongside other Flagg family members, including her brother, Dr. Flagg.
Despite the single marker engraved with the name “Alice,” seen below, there is no evidence that Alice Flagg of the story is buried here. While a young Alice Flagg did live in the area, died young at age 16, and is buried locally, records indicate that this marker is a commemorative stone of another Flagg family member of the same first name. In fact, church historians believe the marker to be simply a memorial, for records of the graveyard show that no one is interred beneath the stone. A devastating hurricane in 1893 swept many Flaggs out to sea, and this marker is thought to honor another Alice Flagg, one of the storm’s victims. If so, where is Alice Flagg of the legend buried?
Alice Flagg of the beloved ghost story is actually interred at Belin Memorial United Methodist Church – then called Cedar Hill – along with her uncle and the church’s namesake, the Reverend James Belin, according to church records. Her burial spot is unmarked. Cedar Hill was family land owned by Belin, which he later bequeathed to the church. Several other Belin and Flagg family members are at rest within Belin Memorial along with Alice.
Nonetheless, lovers of the story and curious beach goers are undeterred from roaming the All Saints graveyard in hopes of experiencing a moment of supernatural South Carolina history. In fact, the church installed a sign to deter people from ghost hunting on their grounds – or is the sign to deter the ghost? Either way, All Saints has accepted its relationship with the story, and while it is entertaining, the parish church is as beautiful and interesting in its own right.
All Saints Church is listed in the National Register:
All Saints’ Episcopal Church was one of the most significant Episcopal churches in the South Carolina lowcountry in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Its first congregation was formed in 1739, and the church has been located at this site since then. Four extant historic resources—the historic sanctuary, cemetery, rectory, and chapel—are significant for their association with All Saints’ and for their architectural or artistic characteristics.
The sanctuary, built 1916-1917, the fourth to serve this congregation, is significant as an excellent example of Classical Revival style, adapting the design of the church’s nineteenth century sanctuary which burned in 1915. It is a one-story rectangular brick building sheathed in scored stucco. It has an engaged pedimented portico supported by four fluted Greek Doric columns. A Doric frieze, composed of triglyphs, metopes, and guttae, runs under the cornice around the building on three sides. The church has a large center aisle sanctuary with a coved tray ceiling. The church cemetery, established in the 1820s, is significant for the persons buried there, many of who were the leading public figures of antebellum Georgetown County. It is also significant a collection of outstanding gravestone art from ca.1820 to ca.1900. It is surrounded by a pierced brick fence (ca. 1930) with wrought iron gates. The church rectory, built in 1822, is an intact example of a Carolina I-House. The rear façade has been changed several times. The slave chapel at All Saints’ is nominated separately.
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Reflections on All Saints Episcopal Church
Contributor Treva Thomas Hammond shares, “Every summer I take my camera out to the All Saints Parish cemetery and walk around this historic parish. The Spanish moss hangs from the trees, and there is a quiet beauty here.”
All Saints Church Info
Address: 3560 Kings River Road, Pawleys Island, SC 29585
GPS Coordinates: 33.467492,-79.139468
All Saints Church Map
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