The Circular Church

“When God inscribed a circle on the face of the deep, I (wisdom) was there.” – Proverbs 8:27

The Circular Church

The Circular Church

More about Circles. I am practically jumping with excitement over the book that arrived in today’s mail. It is called The Circular Church, Three Centuries of Charleston History by Joanne Calhoun. It was printed by The History Press a local press that prints regional history books. Their books are a visual and sensual delight, beautifully designed and carefully printed. This book is no exception; it is loaded with quality photographs and visuals. And a whole chapter on the graveyard! I am so interested in details about the sculptors, the mysterious stonecutters who rarely signed their art.

The White Meeting House, as it was called then (because of its color, according to McCrady’s History) was organized in 1681 as a dissenter church which meant “not” Anglican. It promised religious freedom, and set out to attract nonconforming settlers. The round design is said to be the idea of Martha Laurens, wife of the great physican and historian, Dr. David Ramsay. An intellectual equal to her husband who could read fluently by the age of three, she is credited by her husband for a the idea of a circular design for the new church building in 1806.

There is so much to say about the art, the architect, the stone sculptors, the congregants (masters and slaves, who were, indeed, members here, and that whole complicated arrangement) the buried, the ministers, one of whom was, of course, the interesting actor turned pastor, William Hutson, my ancestor. Today I will simply begin to draw this circle.

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I was called to be an artist. And as an old old midwife said to me "If the Lord wants you to do something, you won't have no good luck' til you do." So, here I am, sharing what I love, longing to illuminate the work of art, which is everywhere.

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Posted in architecture, art, Charleston South Carolina, South Carolina History
5 comments on “The Circular Church
  1. Mike Hutson says:

    What a great book about one of my favorite places in Charleston. No trip to Charleston is complete without a pilgrimage to this holy site. Here’s a pilgrim’s tale about the tombstone you mentioned, from the memoirs of William Ferguson Hutson (1874-1968): “While in Charleston [in 1896], I found the tombstone of our earliest Hutson ancestor, the Reverend William Hutson, lying behind a privet hedge that lined a brick wall on one side of the yard of the old Circular Church. It had been broken off right at the ground either during the bombardment by the Federals or by the earthquake of the ’80’s.’ I notified my uncle [Charles Jones Colcock Hutson] of the find and noticed on my last visit it had been reset just back of the Church.”

    • Thank you for that great story, Mike. oooou, I know you have more, too. I love that you used the word Pilgrimage to describe a visit to this place. Charleston is already an evocative place, but to visit a place with pilgrim’s eyes, is to see anew, with “openness, attentiveness, and responsiveness.” – from a wonderful book called the Art of Pilgrimage, ‘the seekers guide to making travel sacred’ by Phil Cousineau.

  2. How about a link to the book! And to the authors page?

  3. The link to the book is on the live link in the post, for the History Press.
    Joanne Calhoun is the author. Sorry I do not know much more about her.

  4. Jae Jaxon says:

    Who is McCrady? I keep seeing these little directionals to the south. My family name in the 1700’s was spelled MCCRADY. It later changed to McReady, McReady and finally it is McCready. In Ireland it means to Make ready…or always be ready I am told. To see this name in the article-it has piqued my interest to this southern exposure.

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What’s this?

Welcome to my blog about the Lowcountry of South Carolina, a place proud with beauty, history and art. Sometimes we feel a call, to be, to go, to do. I was called to be an artist, and as an old midwife from Alabama said, “If the good Lord wants you to do something, you won’t have no good luck until you do it.”

So here I am writing about what I know, about the 'under glimmer' as the poet Basho, says, the way I have learned to see, to notice. I am inspired by, and talking about the history and art and culture of this place that has called me to herself. By the ancestors.

My background includes a degree in fine arts from a small private college in Florida, and before that, four years of all girls' boarding school in Asheville. I worked as a professional photographer, helped my children grow up, and now and I love seasoned things, good food, better conversation, beauty, my beloved and beautiful Italian Greyhound, Beau. Moved by the sacred places and stories of this beautiful historic land called the Lowcountry, I am here in spirit and I hope to infect you with my love of this place.

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