The historic marker at the corner of William Hilton Parkway and Matthews Drive is about the Zion Chapel of Ease and Cemetery. What is a Chapel of Ease?
A Chapel of Ease is a church building that is not the main church that is closer and easier for the congregation to get to. Zion Chapel of Ease was on the Island. It was part of St. Luke’s Parish. St. Luke’s Parish church was built in Pritchardville in 1786. When it burned down a second church was built in Bluffton, on the Bull Hill Plantation. Both were a long trip from Hilton Head Island.
These chapels were common in England. The main church would be in the larger town, with small chapels in the surrounding villages. Sometimes each manor house would have its own chapel of ease just for family and staff.
Zion Chapel of Ease was built on Hilton Head in 1788, although it had been authorized by St. Luke’s Parish about 20 years earlier.
Zion accommodated the planters who lived on the island and who were at some distance from St. Luke’s Parish Church located on the road between Coosawhatchie and the Savannah River crossing, now Route 170.
Chapels of Ease
by Lyman Wooster
Heritage Library History and Ancestry Research Center
What did the Zion Chapel of Ease look like?
All that is left now are the graves and the Baynard Mausoleum. Lyman Wooster says it was a rectangular structure of 30 by 40 feet built of wood on a brick foundation. Evidently it had an alter, pews, prayer desks, pulpit, and silver chalices.
What happened to it?
The Zion Chapel completely disappeared right after the Civil War. By 1867 anything of value had been taken. By the next year, even the lumber and bricks were gone.
Lyman Wooster’s article tells how someone bought a couple of “heavily tarnished goblets” at a pawn shop in Philadelphia. When he polished them, he found they were engraved “1834 Zion Chapel Hilton Head.”
It seems these were the eucharis chalices that that disappeared when the Island was occupied during the Civil War. They had been made by the Barnard* silversmiths in Paternoster Row, London.
Zion Chapel Hilton Head was gone, so the mansent them to the closest Episcopal Church in Beaufort. When St. Luke’s Episcopal Church was established on Pope Avenue, the chalices were moved back to the island.
*The Barnard silversmiths don’t have anything to do with the Baynard Mausoleum. They are completely different names.