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St. James Wambaw Church

It's no secret that I love traipsing around old cemeteries and churches. My blog is named after a tombstone inscription, after all. 

To me, it has less to do with the religious significance of these places and more to do with the history that surrounds them. You can learn so much about burial customs and people's lives just by looking at tombstones, and you can get a feel for a community's hierarchy and interests by checking out their places of worship.

I was an adventuring mood, so I packed up the car with my daughter, my husband, and my sister and headed down a little dirt road off of Highway 17. The way to St. James Wambaw Church is pretty bumpy and narrow, but I think the (small) discomforts are worth it. 

About a mile from Hampton Plantation (and not too far from the SeeWee Restaurant) is this small brick chapel which dates back to the mid-1700s. It's looking great for its age, isn't it?! 

There are these little chapels of ease scattered all over South Carolina, and I love exploring them (the Pon Pon Chapel of Ease near Round-O and the Lady Chapel near Frogmore are two others). The St. James Wambaw Church only had a little more than a dozen families attend it at the height of its popularity, but it served as a place where travelers on the King's Highway (now called Old Georgetown Road) could worship on their journeys. 

[Note: I have no confirmation that George Washington stayed here/ ate here/ prayed here/ sat here/ etc. But see as how he saved that tree just down the road at Hampton Plantation, I don't know how the man couldn't have at least ridden past here. You're behind the times, St. James Wambaw Church! Where is your GW plaque?!?!]

Can you imagine going to church with the same 15 or 16 families? Not that I'd do anything bad anyway, but you couldn't get away with anything with such a small group of people keeping track of you!

My sister decided to climb up into the (gigantic) pulpit, but her spirit was not stirred to tell us anything other than "You'd better be good. I can see everything from up here." Seriously, that pulpit was not for the faint of heart or those affected by vertigo. 

A very small sister on a very big pulpit
The church is only used on Easter nowadays; it's owned by the St. James Episcopal Church in McClellanville. The chapel is open during daylight hours. There's no attendant or anyone there: you just go in and explore on your own. Just make sure to be a responsible traveler, and bolt the door when you're done! (It keeps pesky things like snakes and raccoons out, neither of which are good sightseeing buddies.)
I love old brick to a weird degree. Please tell me I'm not the only one.
To get to the church, turn onto Rutledge Road about five miles north of McClellanville. Once on Rutledge Road, find the first dirt road to your left; this will be Old Georgetown Road. Go down Old Georgetown for a mile or so. The chapel will be on your right. 

Do you like visiting old churches and graveyards? Or do they creep you out?