Tag Archives: Charleston

The Holy City By the Sea: Charleston, South Carolina

America is not only The New World, but it was also referred to by the early colonists as The Promised Land.  America was founded and formed deliberately after the pattern of Ancient Israel. As with the children of Israel’s Exodus, there was a mass Exodus from Europe, “to escape the tyranny of the oppressors,”  the European governments, as the people were being taxed every which way possible.  As Charles Dickens wrote, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” He gave a litany of every way in which they were being taxed and taken advantage by their governments in France and in Great Britain.  Civilization had grown in sophistication, but so had government’s intrusion into their daily lives.

Just as there was the mass Exodus of several million Jewish people from Egypt led by Moses, Europeans came to America en mass. They had been in the pressure cooker too long.  They had HAD it! The word LIBERTY filled up all the blue of the sky in their minds.  LIBERTY was the siren call tempting them to leave all the familiarity of home and culture and to venture forth across the troubled waters to begin civilization all over again in a land they knew not, like Abraham.  Our Founding Fathers saw America as the Israel of the New World, the new Promised Land. Just as Jerusalem is the only place called Holy City, out of the new Promised Land, there was only one city in America that has kept the nick name, The Holy City.

Charleston, South Carolina is that city, founded in April 1670.  The air seems to be permeated in Charleston with an elusive charm and magic that makes first time visitors feel at home.  Charleston is like an old shoe.  She fits one and all alike. The Eight Lords Proprietors of England who were given this land by King Charles II kept a low profile during the reign of Olivier Cromwell, but when Cromwell died and his son Richard proved ineffectual, Great Britain had Eight Lords a Leaping!  These lords risked their lives, lands, and reputations to reestablish the monarchy.  The monarchy had been done away with in a big way.  Charles I had been beheaded!  These lords brought his son back from exile in the court of France and made him king of Great Britain.  In appreciation, King Charles II gave them land in the New World, Carolina. The lord who took the most interest in this colony was  Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper, first earl of Shaftesbury, in Dorset, England, for whom our two rivers are named, the Ashley and the Cooper.  His good friend and secretary was non other than John Locke.  THE  John Locke!  Together they wrote the Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina.  Included was a protection of freedom of religion and freedom of speech with the provision that it was against the law to speak against anyone for their differences in faith.  Everyone had freedom of speech to share their faith, but the limitations were not to use it as an excuse to be critical of others’ differences in faith.

Keep it positive, was the mood of the wisdom of our Founders in order to avoid the wars and burnings at the stake of the Reformation of Europe, and earlier the beheadings with the scimitar in the Crusades.  Carolina had the widest range of religious freedom in America second only to Rhode Island in writing but in reality wider here than there. The line they included of not speaking against another for differences in faith was the same line and  law that Middle Eastern King Nebuchadnezzar made after Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego  came out of the fiery furnace unsinged, whose accusers had told King Neb. that these foreign slaves he had promoted did not bend the knee to his statue of gold at the dedication when the music played dramatically. (Read of it, if you will, in the book of the prophet Daniel chapter 3.)

Founding Fathers named not only their mountains and towns Hebrew names but their children here in the New Promised Land.  My long time friend, Margaret Scott, told me today her ancestors who came here from England and joined Daniel Boone were none other than three brothers named Shadrach, Meshach and Abedneggo.  Now that was a lot of faith in having more sons to follow for their parents to have started that name pattern!  Early settlers and Founding Fathers also read in Hebrew and taught their children Hebrew.  Hebrew was taught in schools and universities.  Yale has Hebrew in its seal. Columbia University as well.  William Bradford, who wrote Of Plymouth Plantation, read the Bible in Hebrew. I was astounded when I had Ashley Hall foreign girls over for tea from China that the Christian among them is teaching herself to read in Hebrew!

There is no nation in the world as closely linked to Israel as America.  Charleston and Bermuda are on the same latitudinal line as Jerusalem.  Charleston is the Holy City By the Sea, Bermuda is called God’s Country, and Jerusalem is the Holy City of this planet Earth, center of three world religions, which are allowed next door to each other, just as in Charleston. When you live this close together, you gotta love your neighbor! “What the world needs now, is love, sweet love.  It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.”   Let’s have a revival of that song!

June is coming! I am sharing the love of June with you.  June McKnight is doing tours with me.  She is a native Charlestonian as well, a friend through the Garden Club of Charleston, Ashley Hall, and through the rising star of her young son, the chef, Daniel McKnight, intern under Nathalie Dupree. With the recent loss of my mother, who did the tours with me faithfully for about 25 years, God has raised up June to help.  She has immersed herself in study and made a 98 on the written and oral exam to become a licensed City of Charleston guide.   She has been interning with me since December. Shemitah is the siren call to me through that Still, Small Voice.  For such a time as this.

Laura Wichmann Hipp

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Come Quick! Spring is Bursting Out all Over with an Easter Message!

Purple clusters of wisteria, the most photographed in Charleston being the one along the fence of the Timothy Ford House across the street from the Nathaniel Russell House, 51 Meeting St, are now starting to show color with its first blossoms.  It will be coming on slowly with the cool weather and its many remaining clusters still in that translucent stage.  But that metamorphosis has begun from what looks like dead wood and lifeless burs  to luxurious clusters of wisteria dripping with Southern charm. My yellow Lady Banks Rose is in the first stages of bloom  along the yellow brick post that we share with the Coast Guard of Charleston.  We look across their lawn to the Ashley River.  The tiny clusters of yellow are in great abundance, especially noticeable behind our  bare twiggy citrus grove with the freeze having dropped their leaves for the second year.  We did get two grapefruit and lots of kumquats, which we ate.  Our two Meyer Lemons show no life and  may have to be replaced. Being this near the Ashley River, we felt safe.  One of my two Calamondin Orange trees is in green bud. Before the freeze, I got one harvest for Calamondin Marmalade. Taste and see! The large Formosa Azalea is showing color, and the first buds are open.  Light pink azalea blossoms surround towering pink tulips in our pedestal bowl on the white linen table, the picture of Easter! All the windows and doors were open in our house today with a robust breeze caressing the fluttering blossoms. A living, breathing house is a true Charleston home, designed to catch the breezes, not to be sealed up with storm windows that never open. The award winning garden on Montagu we visit is coming on with its first azalea blossoms opening.  We’ve only just begun! Johnny Jump-ups, blue and purple violas, adorn my flower boxes and candlesticks enjoying the cool weather. It is warm enough to harvest cilantro and lettuces and Swiss chard from my garden, as well as to plant tomatoes I grew from seed!

I took a branch of Red Bud to Cornelia’s baby born the first day of spring.  Her lips are like rosebuds!  Cornelia has given birth to the only grandchild of her parents and her FIRST baby at the tender age of 45!  She is the last of our friends to have a baby, the youngest of three sisters.  This baby’s grandmother was the only child of her mother.  This is a rare blood line to continue of Southern graciousness and charm. When this baby’s grandmother had her first of three girls, her mother’s advice was followed: Wear your white gloves for the important events in your life! She did… in delivery! I loved Harry D. Jones, this baby’s grandfather.  Harry D. would talk to me for hours with my taking notes on the memories of his escapades growing up in Charleston. There was a police officer known to all the boys downtown. He rode a bike.  He would chase boys outside in the early day when they should have been in school. They loved the chase. “—Ride the Rooster Just Like You Used To,” the truant boys would chant.  This Harry D. Jones grew up to be a fly fighter pilot in WWll, escaping the deadly chase of Nazi planes.  He returned home to finish college and to meet the love of his life, Catherine Oliver, at the College of Charleston, who later studied at the Sorbonne and was a Fulbright Scholar, teaching French for many years at Ashley Hall..  I am blessed often to go into the garden of Catherine’s good friend, Molly, who was there with her when Harry D. and Catherine met at the College of Charleston.

Magic is in the air this Spring 2015 as the world becomes a wonderland of hope and new possibilities. My own baby is now a tenth grader.  She is on spring break and slept in this morning.  In her long sleep, she indulged in dreams not cut off by the alarm.  She had two girlfriends spend the night but told me alone in the kitchen that she dreamed it was the time of Christ’s Second Advent.  She was in our home with our family and youth group friends from St. Philips.  She said that in the dream our home was a mansion. (My husband smiled proudly when I told him, as if her dream was stating reality.)  She was wishing in the dream that she had realized His Second Advent would be so soon.  She said she would have been bolder in telling more friends about Jesus, urging them to live for Him, taking more seriously the time.  She said life was carrying on as usual with her body feeling hunger, etc,  but all knew His coming was at hand.  The day had come when people least expected Him, and all eyes could behold Him.  Out of the mouths of babes!  Victoria’s dream this morning is my Easter message to you.  Can an Easter message be any more a message of renewal?

Just as the prophets foretold His first coming as the Son of David, born in Bethlehem, the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world, so the prophets also foretold his Second Coming as King over all the earth.  We believe that He shalt come to be our Judge. People abusing the system to get more money any way they can will be caught short.  Pray with me for those who are pulling down our democracy to turn from their ways while there is time.  “People get ready, there’s a train a comin…  All you need is faith to hear the whistle blowing.  You don’t need no ticket; you just get on board.”

In Charleston we are surrounded by what many call mansions.  It is the Life of the Spirit of Christ Jesus that makes these homes come alive with something real,  with the sense of community we have akin to the Kingdom of Heaven. It can happen anywhere.  At our High Tea after the tour, I pray, “So create a desire within us to desire what You desire for us, that at Your Son Jesus’ Second Advent, He may find in us A Mansion, prepared for Himself, who lives and reigns with You, one God, now and Forever!”

Maybe that is what our daughter Victoria dreamed, that she had prepared a mansion within, fit for Him, with many lovely rooms…

A deep history lesson with The Charleston Tea Party Private Tour awaits your arrival.  Life is precious. Call us at 843-708-2228 for a morning tour, year round, weekdays, beginning with breakfast overlooking the harbor and Ft. Sumter, ending with High Tea at my house overlooking the Ashley River, with many beautiful sights and lessons from history where we step inside and in between. Charleston is a treasure trove of architectural beauty enhanced by well tended gardens coming into bloom this April. Wherever you are, lift up your head and have a  Happy Easter! Laura Wichmann Hipp 843 708 2228

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Filed under Calamondin Marmalade, Charleston in spring, Easter in Charleston, for foodies, Gardening, Historic Charleston Foundation, Meyer Lemons

Sherman’s March to the Sea 150 Years Ago

On February 1, 1865, the last month for Charleston in The War Between the States, Major General William T. Sherman began the Carolinas Campaign, as his army invaded South Carolina.

Many ask  if Sherman came to Charleston.  He received a message from General Halleck saying, “If you can reach Charleston, Destroy that harmful place.  If some salt can be sown on the site afterwards, perhaps that will prevent future crops of Nullification and Secession.”

Sherman responded saying, “As for Charleston, the truth of the matter is, The Whole of the Northern Army is Burning with insatiable desire to wreak vengeance on… Carolina, the Hellhole of Secession. I almost tremble at her fate.” The wide swath of destruction in raping, pillaging, and burning was more horrific than the memory in our collective consciousness. As Sherman aptly said, “War is Hell.”  His army’s rampage was more feared than Charleston’s threat of destruction by daily bombardment of Union ships, or by guns on our sea islands surrounding Charleston.  What Charlestonians endured as a city of defenseless women and children, and old and invalid men, in the city’s daily bombardment, is a drama yet to be portrayed by Hollywood, but with a heroic stand for their faith and courage, comparable to Churchill’s London and Essex of my mother’s childhood.

It was the threat of Sherman’s  March to the Sea in the end that made Charlestonians evacuate, after all they had endured.  Many went to small towns to family connections and to perfect strangers who would take them in.  Many went to Columbia.  Mary Boykin Chesnut said in her Diary from Dixie that the whole State was crowded into Columbia.  It was like one, great, big party.  She was reprimanded for her levity by her dour husband for having taffy pulls, reading frivolous novels in French, and  going for rides in her carriage with Mrs. President Jefferson Davis, preening in her fashionable but not updated styles.

Meanwhile, Sherman’s army was burning, raping, and pillaging plantations leading to Charleston.  He stopped.  Within fifteen miles of Charleston, he turned.  He bypassed the Peninsula of The Holy City and headed for the capital of the State, Columbia.   Raven Van der Horst Lewis died that night in child birth fleeing the burning of Columbia as Sherman’s raid came in. She had fled to Columbia for refuge from Van der Horst Plantation at Kiawah near Charleston. On my private tour, we see her large, gold framed portrait inside the home of the doctor who delivered me.  The child lived, from whom comes the present family, showing the value of one solitary life, la chaime!

Yes, Sherman came to Charleston.  But it was before The War, when he was stationed at Ft. Moultrie, ten years earlier.  He had danced with Charleston girls, one of whom was a young, pretty widow, Caroline Pettigru Carson.  She had lost her husband that same year.  She was dressed appropriately in black, but at a dance while in her first year of mourning? Of  what character does this Caroline remind you?  This Scarlet woman was the daughter of James Louis Pettigru, a highly respected lawyer, who remained a Unionist,  whose opinions were shaped perhaps by Sherman, a suitor of his daughter.  Her two toddler sons ten years later became soldiers.  She kept up a correspondence with Sherman and asked him to be on the lookout for them to see that they came to no harm.

Could it be that Sherman had a soft spot in his hard heart for Charleston?  He bypassed Charleston altogether, following the party to Columbia, burning the capital instead of Charleston.  Five Points and  very few buildings are all that survive there today from before The War.

He also said at the end of That Late Great Unpleasantness, “If anyone is not satisfied with war, go to Charleston.” We had had a fire in December 1861, not war related, The Great Conflagration of 1861, the largest fire in the city’s history.  It was a block to a block and a half wide, but many blocks long. “By five a.m. the city was wrapped in a living wall of fire, from the Cooper to the Ashley River, without a single gap to break its dread uniformity,”  wrote Emma Holmes in her journal.  It left an ugly scar through the middle of Charleston that looked like a war  ravaged  city.

Mrs. St. Julian Ravenel at 5 East Battery, wrote of 1865, “In returning to Charleston, it was a city of weed wild gardens, of grass strewn streets, of acres of voiceless and pitiful barrenness. That is Charleston wherein Rebellion loftily reared its head but five years ago.  The streets looked as if piled with diamonds, the glass lay shivered so thick on the ground.”  The Holy City had been ransacked by the “liberators” from Massachusetts.

In comparison, Hitler gave his officers the order to destroy Paris when he lost France.  In documentaries, when asked why they did not carry out the order, the reply was, “Paris is Paris to the world.  She belongs to everyone.”  Having tasted Charleston hospitality, and having experienced this City of Antiquity as it was already known before the history of The War Between the States,  having had some of his fondest memories of his young manhood created here dancing with Charleston girls, might he have thought of Caroline Pettigru Carson and his ties to the Old City? Why destroy one of the Union’s most valuable assets?

Charleston’s hospitality may have saved her from Sherman’s wrath.  A long period of neglect also saved Charleston from the destructive wave of “progress.”  Now progress is measured in terms of Preservation Progress, the title of out newsletter from the Preservation Society of Charleston, founded in 1921, the first preservation society of a city in the nation.

The Charleston Tea Party Private Tour believes Charleston’s protection today is dependent on our maintenance of our reputation for Southern hospitality.  It is up to us as individuals as well as businesses to keep this Spirit alive.  Charleston is a place of restoration as many make their pilgrimage here to regain what America has lost.  “If you are weary of the syncopated unrest of a crazy world, come here and set your feet to a saner tempo”, says Elizabeth O’Neill Verner in her book of prose, Mellowed by Time.    “You will leave us wiser than when you came.”

My tours are from 9-1:30, Monday through Friday.  I look forward to sharing my world with you.  My cell is 843-708-2228.  Laura Wichmann Hipp

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Filed under 150th Anniversary of The War, artist Elizabeth O'Neill Verner, Charleston is world's top spot, Elizabeth Verner Hamilton, Preservation Society of Charleston, Rhett Butler, War of Northern Aggression

Two Tour Offerings, one by car, and the other on foot.

Tour Private Gardens in historic Charleston

1. Charleston Tea Party Private Tour

This tour is for the discerning visitor who wishes to experience Old Charleston as a guest, not a tourist. Laura Wichmann Hipp and June McKnight are your knowledgeable and charming guides. Natives who love and know well their city, Laura and June take visitors to their friends’ private homes and gardens, in fact cater each tour to the special interests of their visitors. This is the ultimate insider experience and a rare chance for a visitor to see the “real Charleston.” Both ladies are Licensed City Guides of Charleston who have taken the written and oral exam.

Call June at 843-276-9644 for reservations.

Your hostess serves tea following lunch

Tours are weekdays at 9:00 AM.  The private tour is in and out of a car that seats four guests, or a van that seats six, and goes into private homes and gardens.

 

2. Charleston Tea Party Walking Tour

This on your feet tour is for the discriminating visitor who wants to be off the beaten track. This new tour is for those who love to walk and also want to visit private historic gardens. Two are designed by noted Charlestonian, Dr. Eugene Gaillard Johnson. Another boxwood and rose garden with a dovecote overlooks the glistening waters of the recent 2016 multi-million dollar restoration of Colonial Lake. We also peak into the garden and piazza of Dubose Heyward, who lived in this classic Charleston Single House as a boy and grew up to write the novel, Porgy. Dubose Heyward and George Gershwin collaborated to compose Porgy and Bess, the first American opera, set in Charleston.

Charleston Tea Party Walking Tour starts at 9 a.m. week days for a two hour tour.  You will see Laura’s front flower garden and “citrus grove,” and back garden fruiting trees and raised vegetable beds, from which her family and friends enjoy her homemade Calamondin Marmalade. The Silver Tea Service is used at the end of                 The Walking Tour for four to twelve people.

Call Laura at 843-708-2228 for reservations.


Charleston: Gershwin, Gullah and Tea

The Charleston Tea Party Private Tour sounds about as genteel as it gets. The brochure features a photo of guide Laura Wichmann Hipp (“married to G. Preston Hipp of Charleston”) in a broad-brimmed hat, looking ready to snatch Rhett Butler away from an unsuspecting Scarlett O’Hara. It promises to emphasize architecture and preservation in the city’s historic district, with a grand finale of tea served in the guide’s private home.

-The Washington Post

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Filed under 2016 in Charleston, Charleston Tea, Dubose Heyward's home, new tour, Porgy and Bess, Uncategorized