Magnolia & Pine: Two Sides of One South
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Magnolia & Pine: Two Sides of One South

Coming to you soon.

Some pretty exciting stuff is going to be happening soon.

Follow Magnolia & Pine on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Don’t miss out!

An Outing on Cooper River: Part II - Longwood Plantation and Pompion Hill Chapel Revisited

As we drove up to Longwood, we found an equally breathtaking sight. In the same fashion as Pompion Hill Chapel, Longwood’s main drive is lined with an avenue of trees set amidst bright green pastures, but instead of the smaller Sawtooth Oaks, Longwood has the traditional Live Oaks. As we made our way up the hill to the house, we saw the beautifully maintained polo field off to the right and the ponds that dot the property. Every few minutes, a loud squawk would sound from the trees. These were the resident peacocks that, along with other fowl, make up part of the plantation’s wildlife. Distracted by the sheer beauty of the estate, I then snapped back into reality as we pulled into the carport. Standing outside was Mr. Richard Stoney and our Longwood host, Mr. Rabbit Lockwood.

To outsiders, the perception of Old Charlestonians is likely one of utmost refinement. They are perceived to always be in the finest clothes and carry themselves with reserved politeness. There’s no denying that there is this side of Old Charleston; however, to say they are always in this mode is a drastic overstatement, to say the least. The beauty of Old Charleston is in the duality of her people. I know this phrase is becoming a bit of cliché, but it really does personify such a sentiment: equally at home at a debutante ball or hunting in the rice fields of the plantation, these two personalities equally make up the whole. Seeing Mr. Stoney and Mr. Lockwood in their elements could not have been better examples of such.

Let it be known, these two gentlemen are as real as it gets. Their families have shaped the very course of the history of Charleston and South Carolina, and they embody the very meaning of the word “bonafide.” But this is simply a bullet point in what makes up the character of these gentlemen. Mr. Stoney, who had just been mowing the fields of Kensington in his blue gingham shirt and Social Primer necktie, didn’t hesitate to make us feel welcome at both his and his friend’s plantation. And remember: not all gentlemen are always wearing a coat and tie. Mr. Lockwood, decked out in his white T-shirt and denim shorts, was as great a gentleman as any other who walked the earth, as you will see very soon.

We exited our vehicles to join Mr. Stoney and Mr. Lockwood for a bit of hors d’oeuvres and ice cold drinks. Dogs were running around, peacocks were squawking from the trees, and friendly banter ensued between these lifelong friends. After a few minutes of nice conversation and snacks, Mr. Lockwood began what could be categorized as one of the most intimate tours ever given in the Lowcountry.  Firstly, he began with the history of his lovely plantation.

Longwood began life as Pompion Hill Plantation, named for the aforementioned hill adjacent to the chapel. In the late 1600s, Pierre de St. Julien de Malacare, a French Huguenot, settled in the area after relocating from France during the great persecution. A few years later, Rene Ravenel de la Houte Massois ventured up from the City of Charleston to court and marry Charlotte de St. Julien, Pierre’s daughter. After ownership by the Hassell, Thomas, Shubrick, Manigault, and Heyward families, Alfred Huger purchased Pompion Hill and renamed it Longwood Plantation in 1823. The name has remained ever since.

After our introduction to the property, we loaded on to Mr. Lockwood’s camouflage limo cart, and we explored his property.

Immediately down the hill from the house is a row of newer oak trees, one of which Mr. Lockwood said he wants to stand as a memorial for him when he is buried. Shelby, being the sprightly young lady she is, jokingly said, “Oh great, now I’ll never be able to sell this place when you die! You’re gonna haunt the next owners!” “No Shelby, I’m just gonna haunt you!” Once again, another example of the laid back fun in which these wonderful people partake.

Across the pond was the immaculate polo field, polo being one of Mr. Lockwood’s passions. Sadly, he no longer plays, but he still dearly loves the sport. The field, set up on a bluff, was complete with a majestic flagpole and a collection of beautiful trees. We continue along the trail.

All along the trail is a collection of breathtaking sights. Our next stop was another tranquil pond. Of course, this being the Lowcountry, we know that the stillness of the water does not mean that danger is not lurking nearby. In this part of the country, alligators are a part of life, and in the more uninhabited areas (such as around the plantations), they flourish. Not only are alligators always present, though. There are many predators that walk the land and fly above. Cougars, foxes, coyotes, birds of prey, and black bears all make the woods and fields of the Lowcountry their home. Mr. Lockwood began to list off the many animals that have been killed by these beasts. Sadly, it is a fact of life out in the wilderness.

As we continue along the trail, we pass by several more ponds and fields, all painstakingly created and manicured by Mr. Lockwood. His attention to detail is uncanny. As we drive along, he is able to tell us the genus of every tree, when and why it was planted, and how it enhances the aesthetic value of the property. Such attention to detail could be seen in one particular pond, where Mr. Lockwood built an island as a bird sanctuary; as I mentioned before, they have had a history of birds disappearing from the property.

We press on.

Eventually, we find ourselves once again in sights of Punkin Hill. Next thing I knew, we were on Punkin Hill. “There used to be a house here, and this is where Pierre de St. Julien de Malacare resided,” Mr. Lockwood said in his wonderful old brogue. “It was here that Rene Ravenel traveled to court and marry Malacare’s daughter, Charlotte.” From the top of Pompion Hill, the surrounding property was a vision of paradise. A gentle breeze was wafting off the river through the Sawtooth Oaks, and the occasional boat puttered on by. Egrets swooped out of the sky into the rice fields and the occasion cardinal would fly from tree to tree. After taking in the view, we traveled down the hill towards the chapel.

“Y’all I got the keys! Wait a minute while I turn off the alarm.” With that, Mr. Lockwood invited us into Pompion Hill Chapel. We entered through the sacristy: a wood paneled room filled with old prayer books and Bibles. To our right was a set of stairs that led into the chapel proper. We climbed up and entered. The nave of the chapel is a brilliant white and is set up in a cruciform pattern, with four sections of high-backed pews facing what would be the center aisle. On one end is the pulpit and reading desk, with the pulpit being a copy of that at St. Michael’s Church back in the city (though Mr. Lockwood says this one is in better shape). On the opposite side is the apse: complete with a simple mahogany rail and a wooden table serving as an altar, all backed by an impressive Palladian window. In the center of the church where the aisles meet is a brick pattern that strongly resembles the Union Jack. The thick walls, lined with rows of impressive windows, are also adorned with several plaques. One in particular really made an impression on me. As I mentioned, this area is heavily French Huguenot, and one of the first settlers in the area was Benjamin Simons. On the wall by the pulpit is a plaque dedicated to this gentleman. It reads as follows: “Sacred to the memory of Benjamin Simons *1672 – 1717 and his wife Mary Esther du Pré *1737. This tablet was erected by their descendants in veneration of their courage as pioneers in the New World. Look unto the rock whence ye are hewn.” We look at the French Huguenots as wealthy planters who shaped the economy and politics of our city, and that is certainly not unfair. For example, the Manigault family was, at one time, the richest family in British North America. But it is important to remember that these families came to South Carolina as refugees of religious persecution. After the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, these French Calvinists had to flee their homeland. The colony of Carolina, specifically Charleston, was a safe haven of religious freedom. They came, many very poor, hoping for a better life. As a descendant of some French Huguenots, I often forget this fact. Seeing that plaque helped me remember what some of my ancestors gave up in hopes of a better life.

As we exited the church, we loaded back on to the cart to visit our next destination, one of which was a lifelong dream of mine: Middleburg Plantation.

(Proper credit for all images will be given at the conclusion of the series)

An Outing on Cooper River: Part I - Kensington Plantation and Pompion Hill Chapel

Sunday morning began with a glorious air of joy. Being late spring, Charleston is a paradise of Confederate Jasmine and Tea Olive, and when the sun crests over the slate roofs of the peninsula, it is hard to avoid a euphoric and transcendental daze. The chiming of the quarters ringing freshly in my ears, I made way past the towering steeple of St. Philip’s to the parish house for fellowship and lessons from our newly ordained priest, The Rev. Brian McGreevy. After such, we adjourned to meet in the church proper, where I joined K. Cooper Ray, Harry Hofmann, Alden DeHart Haviland, and Taylor Eubanks for a service of Holy Communion. Some say Anglicanism is a religion of pomp and circumstance, and I am not one to disagree. A little Christian hedonism can be a healthy thing, for it allows one’s entire being to be active in worship, and St. Philip’s Church – the Mother Church of Anglicanism for the colonies south of Virginia – has been saying, singing, and chanting such for the past 334 years. After service, Alden and Taylor said their goodbyes and headed on their way, and Cooper, Harry, and I set off on our excursion.


Figure I: St. Philip’s Church

The road from Charleston to the Eastern Branch of the Cooper River is one of polar opposites, for one must travel through suburban sprawl before the rural roads of St. Thomas and St. Denis Parish are reached. Mind you, the trip is nothing short of a wonder. Slowly, the sprawl of Metropolitan Charleston begins to thin, and once one crosses the Wando River, it nearly comes to an abrupt halt. More and more, civilization passes by and forest starts. Eventually, the Francis Marion National Forest takes over and contact with the world is lost ­– not that one should complain about such, considering how great the natural beauty overwhelms the senses. After a few more miles, the town of Huger comes into view: complete with a post office, a few homes, and old abandoned general stores. The drive continues on.

Eventually, we took a left onto the highway to Cordesville, and after crossing the railroad tracks, we turned onto a gravel road. At the entrance read a sign: Kensington Plantation. We finally made it to the plantation of Mr. Richard Stoney, one of our gracious hosts for the afternoon.

Before I continue, let me set the record straight when it comes to plantations. Due to the hype of such films as Gone With The Wind, plantations are mostly thought of as vast properties with a grand Avenue of Oaks canopying a dirt drive, complete with an imposing mansion standing proudly at the end. Though such places exist, not all plantations follow suit. Kensington Plantation, for example, is an exception to the stereotype.

Established in the 1740s, Kensington Plantation was originally a rice plantation owned by the illustrious Ball family. Now under the ownership of the Stoney family, Kensington is primarily a polo plantation, though there are vast spaces that show remnants of its former glory. Following the main road just past the ruins of the old plantation house, one can explore a trail that extends in a straight line towards the railroad tracks. It may now be a picturesque trail set in the middle of the woods, but in actuality, it is a remaining segment of the original King’s Highway: the main thoroughfare that ran as a trade route through the colonies. Aside from Old Georgetown Road that runs past St. James Santee Parish, such an artifact is nonexistent. And even so, Old Georgetown Road is not as pristine as that of the stretch that runs through Kensington.


Figure II: Tess on the old King’s Highway

Travel down to another trail, and one finds the remnants of the old slave cemetery, though only one headstone stands in the space. Old Peter, the faithful slave of the Ball family, was buried with this marker as a testament to their admiration of his work.

Travel yet again down the road, and one comes to the paddocks. The paddocks, speckled with yellow blossoms amidst the green grass, guide you towards the stable, guest house, polo field, and the Stoney’s residence. Here, we met up with our friend Shelby Dennis, who works as a stablemaster on the plantation. Shelby is a true Southern Belle, but don’t let her gentility fool you: she is just as at home socializing downtown as hunting down alligators in the swamps around the plantation. And as we witnessed with her skills in tracking down rampant dogs, she can execute this grungy work all while wearing a Lilly Pulitzer sundress.


Figure III: Kensington Plantation paddocks

After a run through the woods and trails with a pack of dogs as our company, we loaded up the cars and headed to our next stop: Pompion Hill Chapel.

As I have mentioned before, the people of the Lowcountry are “Town and Country” folk, meaning they are connected both to the City of Charleston and the outlying plantations, and these plantations were historically grouped into different areas by their local parishes; for example, Christ Church Parish covered plantations in present day Mt. Pleasant, St. James Santee covered those around McClellanville and French Santee area, and St. Thomas and St. Denis covered those of Cainhoy, including part of the Eastern Branch of the Cooper River. Within these different parishes were Chapels of Ease, because the people of the day couldn’t travel long distances to reach the churches proper of their respective parishes. These Chapels of Ease were places of worship that planters could more readily visit when services were in order.

Pompion Hill Chapel was established in 1703 as a Chapel of Ease for St. Thomas and St. Denis Parish, an Anglican parish with a very strong Huguenot presence. By 1763, this wooden chapel was in ruins, and a commission for a newer brick building was set into action. This beautiful Georgian building was built under the watch and talent of Zachariah Villepontoux, whose initials are imbedded into several bricks laid next to the north and south doors. Though not active weekly, the congregation of Pompion Hill Chapel still meets for gatherings. This past Sunday was one such gathering, complete with a service and parish picnic.


Figure IV: Pompion Hill Chapel

The drive to Pompion Hill Chapel is almost too picturesque, with perfectly manicured fields of thick green grass and rows of Sawtooth Oaks that lead up to the chapel itself. A bit of a ways down the winding road is a round hill, which is quite unusual in the Lowcountry. This is Punkin Hill, named for its resemblance to a pumpkin (which is also where the word “Pompion” comes from), and it is unknown why this red clay hill is set amidst the rest of property. Once past Punkin Hill, the Cooper River comes into view. Unlike the saltwater creeks near the city, this is fresh water, meaning the familiar grass marshes near the ocean are nonexistent. Instead, one finds vast rice fields and steep bluffs that drop into the river below.

As we arrived to the picnic, the old chapel was just being locked up until the next meeting; thus, we marveled at the structure from the outside. After the picnic, we turned back onto Cainhoy Road and headed to our next destination: Longwood Plantation.

(Proper credit for all images will be given at the conclusion of the series)

Seersucker Season: When, Where, and How | Social Primer

My latest post on Social Primer: a “primer” for Seersucker Season.

5 months ago - 6 -

regattasandreppties said: Once you get this share 5 random facts about yourself and then send it to 10 of your favorite blogs.

Sorry for the late response, A.C. I’ll give it a go:

1) When I had just turned three, I was attacked by a Black Lab. It took my face in its jaws and practically ripped it apart. It took 150 stitches to mend my face. Despite this, I LOVE dogs!

2) I can honestly say that I have never tried an illicit drug (no judgment to those who have tried or currently partake).

3) I can be in the same room as four different generations on my paternal grandmother’s side (it was five when I was first born), and my great-grandaunt on my mother’s side is still alive and continues to teach.

4) I have played almost every major American sport at some point in my life, but I am absolutely horrible at most of them; the exception has been tennis.

5) Despite my love of clothes, I rarely ever wear a suit, aside from my seersucker suit in the spring and summer. Otherwise, I usually wear a variation of the Charleston Tuxedo (or my dinner suit when the occasion calls for such).

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