Sunday, April 15, 2012

Strawberry Chapel

I was really needing an outing so today Kirby and I put Jake and our bug spray in the old van and headed out on highway 41.  We went in search of the Strawberry Chapel.  Is that a cool name or what?  Strawberry Chapel was the church for the small but thriving community of Childsbury which was founded in 1707.  Back in the early 1700's there was also a tavern and a ferry landing to cross the Cooper River.  My reading said that there was even a horse track and of course a general store, school, tanner, shoemaker and a doctor.
 I think this clearing was part of the old town.  Don't you just wish you could see the houses and people as they really were back then.
 Since this isn't really a church but a Heritage Preserve, we had no idea there would be services today and expected to pretty much have the place to ourselves.  Now we know that there are 3 services a year held in the little chapel and today was one of them!  Because of that, I was able to go inside and look around and to my delight I was allowed to take pictures!  (Before the services began of course)
Of course this isn't the way it looked in 1707 - especially the writing on the wall - but it was still cool to get to go in and look around.  Strawberry Chapel today is maintained by the Ball and Harrelson family descendents.  I saw many tombstones with those names.


This tombstone wasn't Ball or Harrelson but I always love the ones with the Confederate Flag on them....so southern.  You know the flags must be placed there for the men who fought during the war between the states.
 UPDATE - I have had a reader who did not like the fact that I have posted anything about Strawberry Chapel and I understand.  There has been a lot of vandalism in the past and the concern is that any more publicity about the chapel will cause more visits by uncaring individuals who will destroy something that is a part of our past and our heritage as Americans.  I apologize to this person but I feel we have a right to enjoy what little is left of these simple reminders of our past.  When I visited Strawberry Chapel, none of my research indicated that it was private property and that I was not welcome.  I am very respectful when I visit something so precious as this lovely spot.  I want only to share the beauty with others.  My pictures are NOT for sale and I have not given the location of this quaint chapel.  I have removed one of the pictures as requested.

Anonymous - who did not want to leave a real name wrote the following - 

It was interesting to read your blog and see the photos you took recently of Strawberry Chapel. Please remove the image showing guests standing in front of the chapel before service, and request any other persons, blogs or entities sharing your photo, to do the same.
 
Strawberry is a special place; worshiping there is a sacred and personal experience, and a time to share with family and friends in privacy. The gentleman that allowed you to enter the property to take photos did not speak for all.  

The chapel is in need of donations for continual repairs due to vandalism and time; Anyone selling photos of the chapel, grounds or graves should consider contributing to Strawberry's Restoration Fund.

Due to recent and continued vandalism, every effort is being made to inform the general public, ghosts hunters, and curiosity seekers that Strawberry Chapel, its grounds, and burial plots are private property. It may seem harsh but: Anyone entering the grounds for any reason is breaking-the-law so subject to possible arrest or a fine for trespassing. Strawberry is an active place of worship; It is not abandoned.

Hope our wishes are not misunderstood by those that may read this. Thank you very much. BHG

26 comments:

  1. This is so wonderful. What a lovely day you, Kirby and Jake must have had. So happy you posted a photo of the inside , too. Maybe someday, I might even find my way to this little chapel.

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    1. Please note: St. John's at Berkeley (Strawberry Chapel) and graveyard are privately owned and should not be entered. Take photographs from afar because anyone entering the property could face prosecution for trespassing.

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  2. It is such a beautiful spot. Sadly they have had a lot of vandalism there through the years. Even comparing pictures I've take I could see that some of the tombs had been broken. You were lucky to get inside!

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    1. Please note: St. John's at Berkeley (Strawberry Chapel) and graveyard are privately owned and should not be entered. Take photographs from afar because anyone entering the property could face prosecution for trespassing.

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  3. Please note: St. John's at Berkeley (Strawberry Chapel) and graveyard are privately owned and should not be entered. Take photographs from afar because anyone entering the property could face prosecution for trespassing.

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  4. Mrs. Townsend:
    Your sight was brought to my attention this morning. It was kind of you to address the concerns of BHG, but I also have some thoughts worth sharing.
    Rebuttal, addition and/or clarification of certain above comments:
    • Chapel is refered to as a Chapel-of-Ease. Current Chapel in your photographers built around 1745 out of brick and later covered in stucco; It is second chapel built on sight; First chapel built in 1707 out of wood.
    • The expression, "To Glory to God in the Highest", was created by forming individual letters out of local mini pinecones; Words were not written on wall.
    • Vandals destroy "No Trespassing" signs each time new one signs are erected. The chapel and grounds are fenced which should be enough for visitors but curiousity seekers continue to destroy sections for easy access.
    • Ball, Harleston, Waring, Gibbes and Stoney family descendants remain involved with property and worship as has been done for generations. Chapel has an active vestry and congregation which holds services, burials, weddings and baptisms throughout the year.
    • Strawberry CHAPEL's official name is St. John's at Berkeley, and the property was once part of the Colonial town of Childsbury. It is a seperate entity from the Historic Preserve land referred to as Strawberry LANDING. Researching the Internet a person can find numerous references to chapel property as "Private Property" or owned "Privately" so not sure where you did your research. No one should ever assume it is acceptable to enter or walk onto a piece of property which appears abandoned or unused; laws are written to protect property owners against trespassers. No one is trying to be unfriendly; Due to reoccurring problems the vesty HAS HAD to enforce strong actions.
    • Upon your arrival, Vestry and congregation were busy preparing chapel for service; you were allowed to freely walk the grounds and even enter chapel to take photographers. You were treated friendly and respectfully by all that encountered you on the Sunday you appeared out-of-the-blue; The day you appeared marked the three year anniversary death of a much loved parishioner, who died from an accident in the Bahamas at age 18 and the service was dedicated too her and her grandmother that recently was buried at Strawberry; Finding a stranger photographing our chapel's private time before service bewildered a few members and their guests.
    • Your assistance and understanding is appreciated, and simply ask for your help in spreading word to others: photographs from road are acceptable, but entering one's property is wrong, ask well as being againts the law. We hope you will seek removal of your photograph (showing individuals in front of chapel) from any and all bloggers or users; their privacy should have been respected before you posted their image in the first place.
    Most sincerely yours,
    a proud friend of Strawberry's Congregation

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    1. It is great to read the informative church's history. Like other visitors, we thought property owned by state. How do we send a contribution to the vestry? As born South Carolinians and history buffs, we value our areas historic sights like Strawberry. If we gladly call the sheriff if see anyone or anything suspicious around the property.

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    2. The chapel's history is rich and fascinating. Thanks goes too the friend that took the time too share their knowledge. I was a guest of the Ball family years ago for a church service. My family attended Judge Stoney's funeral a long time ago. Everyone should respect the requests and not take offence. Amen

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  5. Gee, I wonder how many Vandals read blogs like this? Duh!

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    1. Vandals may not read blogs, hang Dude, vandals may not read at all!

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  6. you'd be surprised! the church is sought by ghost hunters that leave beer/ whiskey bottles and others stuff in church yard. all we are trying to do his protect our place of worship ... certainly you understand our need to spread the word. If Mrs. Townsend wasn't aware of the ownership after her research on the chapel, then others may be uninformed as well.

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  7. Wow, I understand the concern with wanting the chapel to not be further vandalized.. believe me, this place is near and dear to my heart and I hate to see anything bad happen to it. However, it is a church and a historical important landmark which is to be appreciated by everyone, I understand that is used by the descendants of the families but the posts that have been made here have been sounding severely belittling. If the blogger was not welcome to take photographs because of the circumstances of the day then she should have been told. You are making it sound as if she waltzed on the property and had her way with it unbeknownst to anyone else and wreaking havoc on a sensitive day.. give me a break. I am happy that you celebrate your history but on the same token you should realize not everyone has ill intentions. After reading these comments it just makes me feel like nobody is welcome to even think about the place because we are deemed unworthy. Not every opposition involved trespassing.. you thinking you were better for what ever reason clearly shown through your writings.

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    1. Thank you for your support. Your comment has made my day. It was heartwarming to hear a little support rather than all the negative comments.

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    2. Absolutely, I was a little horrified and disgusted with their attitudes!

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    3. To writer on Nov 15, 2012
      It is unfortunate you were offended by comments from a member of SC. There are always two sides to any situation so I find myself somewhat sad in reading your response. Sad you don't feel more compassion toward folks coming to worship but dismayed when finding cameras setup inside Chapel. Parishoners had to move out of camera view as they entered. We were caught off guard and not to appear rude, allowed pictures to be taken.

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  8. and PS to the commentor, I have never heard it called St. Johns at Berkeley, I have heard Biggin Church called that since it was the main parish church.

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    1. Strawberry Chapel owns Biggin Church ruins so referring it as St. John's at Berkeley is fine.

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    2. I believe historic marker sign at Biggin Church states connection with St. John's at Berkeley (Strawberry Chapel.) We haven't been there in years but did research on area for a client and amazed at the history. At the time, we met with Mr. Robert Ball whose family was connected since beginning. Delightful elderly gentleman who graciously shared his time and family history.

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  9. south carolina residents have a tendacy of having ill mannered ways of saying things considering strawberry chaples more dark side approach to things i have been in the graveyard at night and i have heard felt seen and witnessed some very paranormal things never once did i drink out there never once have i vandalised the premises but there is a reason mebkin abbey was put not too far from the site but most wont tell you the reasons why

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  10. Some people are so rude.. I could see if you were posting pictures of breaking something or spray painting something, but this is a blog about a retired (and almost retired) couple enjoying the things our past has to offer. So sad.

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    1. Yes, Story line and photos by couple are interesting and no harm was done by this couple but not all mean well. Any law enforcer or agent would take issue with entering private property without permission. Insurance agents might tell bloggers that owners of private property dont want liability, therefore, if someone enters without permission, they enter at their own risk.

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  11. Strawberry Chapel and Biggin Church make up St. John's at Berkeley so blogger's comments above are correct referencing Strawberry Chapel as St. John's at Berkeley. Reading comments, see both sides, but curiosity seekers, ghost chasers and photographers should understand enormity of what chapel's protectors continue to deal With annually. Repairs are made but vandals attack again.
    Three or four families continue to dedicate time and personal money in order to maintain chapel and its property but resources are limited. Members of vestry are phoned at work or home all hours, mostly middle of night by sheriff. I know first hand, vestry members willingly share their history and why grounds and chapel are sacred to their family. It must be heartbreaking for them to see headstones broken or chapel harmed. I requested permission to take photos a few years ago and later at a wedding. i have been honored to worship with such dedicated individuals.
    Brandon and others hopefully will forgive writers for "their attitudes." Have any of you offered to help by cleaning grounds, repairing gravestones or donating funds toward Chapel's restoration?
    What gives a person the right to trespass on private property then find fault with request not to do so?
    News and Courier 's article referring to most recent vandals is available online.
    Reward offered and information should be reported to Detective Ollic with the Berkeley Sheriff's Department.

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    1. Please understand, my comment was not to offend or sadden anyone. I simply made an observation. Like I mentioned I fully understand wanting and needing to protect and preserve this sacred property. I also know some of the families and have been privileged to photograph some of the most wondrous private plantations in the lowcountry. Anytime I have ever visited I have actually collected and hauled away trash, put stones back in place, etc. but to be part of an organized cleanup day then no I have not. I also understand it was a tragic and sensitive day but my point was if there was an issue then she should've been told about it right away in a respectful way and this whole situation could've been avoided. She very well may have never entered the grounds if the gates were locked and people were not seen milling about. But to be fair they were open and she did request permission in which she was granted. It is clear the bloggers intentions were to appreciate the history and not vandalize anything. I'm with you on the vandals needing to be stopped but I just personally feel that this situation could've been handled in a less seemingly elitist fashion. I'm sorry if that is offensive, the whole point I'm trying to convey is South Carolina history should be appreciated by all and it's clear we just need better communication tactics in place. The comments were not made to not be respectful of your service, history or grief but quite the contrary. I hope that this is understandable in my writing.

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    2. Let me see if I understand this. I am not allowed to approach the church, enter the gates, or look at the grave markers because this is private property. Although I am not welcome on this private property, you are asking for donations to maintain the building and grounds that I am only allowed to view from the road for fear that I will be arrested? I think it a better investment to donate elsewhere. On a somewhat related note, I am also accepting donations to maintain and improve my own private property and I extend an open invitation for donors to stop by and visit, have a seat on the porch, and sip coffee or sweet tea while taking as many photographs as they please.

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  12. Does anyone know if the trail to the dock and dock is considered "private property" also?

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  13. Dock and trail to it is State owned as is most of the former Childsbury Towne-sight.
    Strawberry Chapel and surrounding grounds are private property.

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