Unitarian Church Graveyard in Charleston

The Unitarian Church, 2nd oldest in Charleston, is home to the United Universalist congregation, the oldest Unitarian church in the south. It was not built by Unitarians, it was built by the Society of Dissenters (sinister sounding but they aren’t scary at all) who needed more space to worship – they are known as the Circular Church. Walking down King Street in Charleston you will eventually stumble upon the old graveyard. It is overgrown except for the paths. Wildflowers adorn the graves and trees grow into the tombstones. It’s a beautiful cemetery and it’s said to be haunted.

Charlestonians say that the last complete poem written by Edgar Allen Poe “Annabell Lee” was written for the ghost of Anna Ravenel that haunts the cemetery. Ravenel’s haunted love story is hidden by the mysteries that come with time. I recently read about Anna. May her soul find peace and her love.

The graveyard was one of their secret meeting places.

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In 1827, Anna was 14, from a wealthy family and promised to a aristocratic man. She fell in love with a solider Edgar Perry who was stationed at Fort Moultrie right across the harbor.

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When Anna’s father found out, he tried everything to keep them apart.

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December 1828, Edgar was transferred away. It’s rumored that Anna’s father had some influence.

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Palmetto tree trunk.

Anna fell sick with fever, possibly dengue, it was working it’s way through the southeast. Her sister got word to Edgar about Anna being ill. Poor Anna died before he could see her.

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Wildflowers.

Edgar wasn’t allowed to go to Anna’s funeral. He didn’t know which plot was hers. Her father bought 6 plots and had them all dug so Edgar would never know which grave was hers.

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If you dig into service records you will find an Edgar Perry around those dates. But he enlisted under pseudonym and his real name was Edgar Allen Poe.

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It’s been said her ghost can be seen by her unmarked grave.

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Anna and Edgar, if this story is true, I hope your souls find each other. May you find the peace you didn’t have in life together.

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Annabell Lee by Edgar Allen Poe. I never read it until a few days ago. It’s quite lovely.

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View of St. John’s Lutheran Church from the graveyard.

Charleston churches and graveyards are very different for us. We aren’t use to churches being right next to each other and cemeteries almost seemed shared because they were right next to each other. You can walk into one cemetery and there is a gate dividing it from another. They are known as being the Holy City for all the numerous houses of worship they have.

We decided to be naughty and mess with our friends who freak out that we like to go take pictures in cemeteries. We try and explain that to us there’s a weathered beauty about them and the architecture is way nicer than the giant modern glass buildings we see all the time. So we are starting a thing – graveyard selfies. One of the things we hear is that we will bring ghosts home. No we won’t. They also tell us that they are really haunted and full of the departed. Thing is one friend works in a hospital. Vic and I think that a hospital would be way more haunted and full of angry ghosts especially in America. Since our healthcare system is so inhumane at times, it’s more about money than really getting you care, health insurance being  expensive, some decide to go without it – there’s so much stress and aggravation dealing with our healthcare system. It would make anyone die and wanna come back and haunt the shit outta people. My parents have been having health and insurance issues recently. It’s been a nightmare. If I spent my last days in a hospital and knew my family was being denied claims or given a headache, etc, I’d send my ghost after anyone with a vengeance who made my last days not peaceful. We feel a nice pretty graveyard probably has less angry spirits and way more people die in a hospital. So where would a ghost haunt? Where they last spent their waking hours or a place where they are meant to rest in peace? Also cemeteries have a lot more green space than where I grew up in Manhattan so they are real nice and park like to me. Things like being followed (it’s happened twice) and almost getting robbed, those things really scare me. Besides I’m plenty weird enough to have a chat with a ghost if I encountered one (be a little spooked too). I’d be like, “Hi, I’d like to know your story. Can you help me verify these historic facts? Let’s be friends.” If Vic saw a ghost he’d be like ,”So you guys are real?”

For our friends who can’t stop flipping out:

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We got some weird looks for taking this but we couldn’t stop laughing because we came to ‘where and why a place would be more haunted conclusion’ while taking pics here.

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12 thoughts on “Unitarian Church Graveyard in Charleston

  1. I think I see a spirit behind that tombstone on the far left in your selfie…j/k! 😉

    I’ve heard that story about bringing ghosts home with you if you spend too much time in a graveyard or haunted building, but it seems to have gained traction with the rise of paranormal investigation and reality shows like “Ghost Hunters.” It strikes me as odd, since graveyards are supposed to be consecrated ground where the spirits of the dead could rest in peace. The idea of having a graveyard next to a church is that it would keep the deceased from being restless because they were in a sacred place. It was also a comfort to their families and friends to be able to see their graves when they came to church. When I visit a graveyard or cemetery, I do try to be respectful of the people whose bodies lie there. After all, they were once someone’s child, spouse, parent, or lover. People loved them enough to want them buried in a peaceful, lovely place.

    That said, poor Anna and Edgar. I can imagine she had a lot to be unhappy about in life. He certainly had.

    Beautiful pictures! Did you go into the church as well?

    1. No 😦 We we’re thinking about it but they had some kind of event going on.

      The last day there was a guy who asked us if we saw any ghosts. Vic said not yet. I told him becareful don’t joke too much with the locals some believe in ghosts so you don’t want to be disrespectful. I always say I’m sorry in my head when I’m walking on someone’s grave.

  2. What a lovely graveyard ! I really enjoyed your pictures of flowers as well 🙂 I don’t think it’s very naughty to take pictures in cemetery… because that’s something I would also do :p

  3. Your photos are beautiful; they really show lots of depth. Glad to know we aren’t the only ones. We visited the Chinese cemetery on Oahu when we visited Hawaii and took lots of pictures. It was beautiful! As for ghosts, I agree with you. We see far more in hospitals than graveyards.

  4. What a wonderful post. It has everything, great photography of a very atmospheric place and a sad, romantic story. I learned to love cemeteries doing genealogy and have encountered no ghosts. I did once work in an old hospital and it was as you say, there were haunts.

    1. I admit, I do believe in ghosts but more like hippie stuff. Like we are all energy of the universe kind of thing.

      Not sure what started my love of cemeteries. There’s something haunting about them.

      Thank you for your compliment!

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