"If you are walking in Charleston, you are walking on someone's grave."--Sue Bennett, Charleston tour guide

Monday, April 3, 2017

Small Bethel Church Graveyard Packs Lots of Interesting Sites and Symbols

Last Monday my "Beyond the Grave" students didn't have to walk far to visit a beautiful, historic Charleston church and graveyard.

Bethel United Methodist Church, at the corner of Pitt and Calhoun streets, is a stone's throw from CofC's Addlestone Library.  The church dates to 1797 when a wooden church was erected. That church was moved across the Calhoun Street in the mid-19th century.  It was replaced by a large white columned church, which continues to serve Methodists in and around the Holy City.

I tasked my students with finding 10 or more gravesite symbols on the markers and memorials in Bethel's small graveyard.

Hard to believe, but findagrave.com says there are more than 500 people buried there. A number of headstones are propped up against the church walls and along the wall of an adjacent parking lot. So perhaps the graveyard used to be larger.

Bethel, despite its size, has much to offer a taphophile like myself.  There is a rich array of 19th century grave sites, which include a Confederate general.

Grave marker symbols comes in lots of shapes, sizes, designs and meanings. They range from flora and fauna to animals and religious crosses and other iconography.

The imagery my students photographed and documented in their blogs includes roses, tulips, weeping willows, crowns, crosses, angels and lambs.

A number of Bethel headstones used to stand up, but for unknown reasons fell down and were allowed to remain in this state.

I appreciate Bethel UMC's beauty and how well kept its grounds are, including the graveyard. And I appreciate its accessibility and proximity to campus.

The recent time change allowed us to visit before it became dark, as my class begins at 6 p.m.

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