“When God inscribed a circle on the face of the deep, I (wisdom) was there.” – Proverbs 8:27More 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.
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.
How about a link to the book! And to the authors page?
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.
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.