BIGGIN CHURCH - 1712
St. John's Parish Berkeley
Historic view of Biggin's Church
| The Parish of St. John's, Berkeley
is said to have taken its name from the Act of Assembly of 1704 which was
superseded by the Church Act. of 1706 and is described as the largest
of the ten original Parishes in the Province.
| The site on which this Church
is situated is said to have received its name from Biggin Hill in Kent,
England and was relocated by Landgrave John Colleton of Wadboo Barony at
the juncture of three important roads of that day.
| As we learned in the story
of the Huguenots of this section, the Rev. Robert Maule came to the Province
in 1707 as an Anglican Missionary and was assigned to this Parish. As he
had no Anglican Church building, he was invited by the Huguenots to use
their Church where he preached every two weeks. These Huguenots had not
been set up as a Huguenot. Parish under the Act of Establishment, but were
an independent Huguenot congregation, and probably failed to realize that
this use of their building was the initial step in the absorption
of their congregation by the Anglican parish.
| As the Historical Marker recounts,
the Anglican Church on Biggin Hill was completed in 1712. It was burned
by forest fire in 1756 and replaced in 1761. Samuel Gaillard Stoney says
that the ruin we find today is of the building of 1761. An archaeologist
would be required to study the remains to definitely date any parts of
the ruins. It. is generally accepted that what we find today is basically
that of the building of 1761 as it was restored after the 1781 burning
when the British under Col. Coates were retreating toward Charles Town
in. July of 1781.
| After the Revolution the
Church was again restored and used until the end of the Confederacy. During
the Confederate War the interior was stripped of pews and fixtures. About
1886 the unused building was again burned by a forest fire, and people
began using the walls as a ready source of brick.
| The long, narrow shape of the
Parish resulted in the growth of centers of community interest which caused
the Parish to be divided into Lower, Middle and Upper St. John's. Biggin,
the Parish Church, was in the upper part of Lower St. John's, and Strawberry,
Chapel was below Biggin. Bishop Thomas tells that summer services were
held at. Cordesville in the early 1800's and a little later in "Whitesville."
| In Middle St. John's, we are
told that about 1800 the Rev. Mr. P. M. Parker held services on the property
of General William Moultrie "about a mile from Black Oak." On Jan. 19,
1808, the men of the neighborhood met at Black Oak and raised a Church
Building on land given by Mr. Rene Ravenel. Bishop Thomas tells us that
in 1846 a chapel was built at Pinopolis and in that same year the old Black
Oak building was given to the Methodists, who moved it to Macbeth, and
a new church was built at Black Oak. This new building was consecrated
in 1847 as Trinity, Black Oak. For all practical purposes Trinity (Black
Oak) was merged with Trinity (Pinopolis) and only annual services had been
held at. Black Oak for some time when Santee-Cooper took over the Black
Oak site in 1941.
| In its day Trinity (Black
0ak) was one of the important churches in the area because it was located
in the heart of a prosperous plantation section at an intersection of roads,
the site of a store, a voting precinct, the clubhouse of the St. John's
Hunting Club, and the center of the area that sponsored the Black Oak Agricultural
Society, which last organization drew members from as far up as the vicinity
of Eutawville and Holly Hill. In the immediate vicinity the St. Julien,
Ravenel and Mazyck connection owned such plantations as Pooshee, Wantoot,
Woodboo, Fair Spring, Hepworth, Chelsea, North Hampton, Indian Field, and
| Bishop Thomas mentions
the construction of St. John's Chapel at the Barrows and various plantations
at which services were held at different times. Some of these places had
services for short periods and all were without services or even a chapel
over long periods.
| The first known church in Upper
St. John's was a log chapel built during the ministry of the Rev. Levi
Durand. This building is said to have served "overflowing" crowds. By Act
of Assembly in 1770, provision was made for a Chapel of Ease to be built
near the Forty-Five Mile House, which was the Chapel Hill site on the Cherokee
Path about two miles below the present site (1982) of the Barnet's Tavern
marker. Chapel Hill was the site of the original log chapel. After the
Revolution there was a general rejection of things associated with England
and this building probably either burned, rotted or was taken down. The
people of the area built on a five acre tract, now the site of Friendship
United Methodist Church, a brush arbor which was used for any community
gatherings, and as a pulpit for any circuit rider or passing clergyman.
Former Anglican families, Baptists and Methodists participated.
| From the earliest settlement,
the movement of settlements was upward. And this was true here, a number
of the formerly Anglican families moved farther up in the parish. About
1804 the first Rocks Church was built near the entrance to the Rocks Plantation
from the old Santee River Road. In 1808 it was moved about two miles east
to Springfield Plantation. There is today in the Cross Community a paved
road known as the "Rocks Church Road" leading north from Highway No. 6
and going to Spiers' Landing, and the abandoned section still going under
the waters of Lake Marion to the Rocks Church site. In 1814 the old building
here was taken down and a new building erected under the supervision of
Mr. John Palmer. In the 1840's the Episcopal Church in America was being
made aware of Anglican practices which had rarely or never been observed
here; and in 1844 the Rocks Church was consecrated as the Church of the
Epiphany. With the isolation of the building on an island and the scattering
of the congregation by Santee-Cooper, the Rocks Church was replaced by
a Chapel which was originally built as an interdenominational church about
1849 in the village of Eutawville, formerly known as Mayrant.
| Additional information on the
history of this Parish may be found in The Protestant Episcopal Church
in South Carolina by Bishop Albert Sidney Thomas.
| One needs to remember that the
parish was a political entity and continued to be so even after the Anglican
Church was no longer the Established Church in South Carolina (or America).
Problems arose between Berkeley and Craven Counties over the line which
included the line between St. Stephen's Parish and St. John's, Berkeley.
On Sept. 22, 1735 the General Assembly authorized Governor Johnson to appoint
Commissioners and surveyors to resurvey the bounds of several counties
in the Province. The Act provided that the surveyor begin at the plantation
of Samuel Wigfall, which plantation shall be in Berkeley County, and is
at the head of Seewee River, and from thence shall run back a course Northwest
five and forty degrees, and make a fair line until they come to Santee
River, which line shall be deemed and forever hereafter accounted to be
the bounds between Berkeley County and Craven County; and from the end
of the said line, the river upward shall be the bounds between the said
| Several years ago, the Berkeley
County Historical Society conducted a tour of Pineville (in St. Stephen's
Parish) and Eadytown (in St. John's, Berkeley), and were shown a large
granite marker which had originally marked the line between St. John's,
Berkeley and St. Stephen's, Craven. Mrs. Gourdin stated they had
moved the marker from property they had owned when they sold the property.
| Upper St. John's, Berkeley is
said to have been the section of South Carolina where cotton was first
successfully and profitably grown. The story of Peter Gaillard and The
Rocks is well known as is that of the Sinklers and their fine horses. From
Big Camp on the west bank of the "Old Santee Canal" on into Upper St. James
Goose Creek stretched plantations, large and small, that continued to be
profitable long after those in other parishes ceased to make expenses.
Information and Article from
"Historic Ramblin's Through
written by and used with permission
Mr. J. Russell Cross