Church and churchyard (cemetery) tours

Sat, Feb 18, 2023
11:00 am - 12:00 pm
This event has already occurred.
St John in the Wilderness Episcopal Church
1895 Greenville Hwy, Flat Rock, NC 28731, USA
free--registration required
St John in the Wilderness Episcopal Church

The church and churchyard (cemetery) tours returned last summer and are
sponsored by the St. John Episcopal Church Docents. They will begin inside the
Carriage Door entrance of the church with the first led by lead docent, E.R. Haire,
Jr. Other docents will rotate monthly as guides. “We are pleased to give tours of
the historic church and cemetery. As a vibrant congregation we welcome all to
come to this sacred place and share in the story of St John in the Wilderness,” said
The free tours are limited to 30 people. Reservations are to be made online on
the church’s website,
The tours will be held monthly on the third Saturday at 11 a.m. There will be no
rain dates. They will last about an hour. Please wear comfortable shoes.
The historically significant cemetery contains graves of un-named 19th century
people who were enslaved as well as distinguished political figures, and local

In 1827 Charles Baring, a member of the Baring banking family of England, built a
home in Flat Rock. He and his wife, Susan, wanted a summer place to escape the
oppressive heat, humidity, and malaria of the South Carolina Lowcountry where
they lived. The Barings built a chapel on the property of their newly constructed
home. Soon after it was built the small wooden structure burned down in a
woods fire. In 1833 work began on a second church built of handmade brick.
In August of 1836 the Barings deeded their chapel to the Diocese of North
Carolina and 20 members of the Flat Rock “summer colony” formed themselves
into an Episcopal parish. In the 1890s when the Missionary District of Asheville
(later Diocese of Western North Carolina) was formed, St. John in the Wilderness
transferred its affiliation. It is the oldest parish in the diocese.
With almost all the church members traveling back to the Lowcountry after the
summer season, the church mainly operated during summer months for its first
120 years. So rapid was the growth of the Flat Rock community during the 1830s
and 1840s that the parish membership outgrew the capacity of the small chapel.
In the early 1850s the decision was made to rebuild the church, essentially
doubling its size. With only a few minor modifications the structure was
completed in 1852. It is the one that stands today.
First families of the early years of our country, descendants of signers of the
Declaration of Independence, influential politicians of the 19th century, military
leaders and others of note are buried in the churchyard.