St. Simons Island is unique in the way that every island is unique; it’s a chance to get away from traffic and highways and road rage, and escape to a seaside villa. There are attractions, restaurants, and shopping experiences here that are very different from anything else Georgia has to offer. Even with all the island’s appeal, one beautiful getaway far outshines the rest; Christ Church Frederica. In the 1700s, Fort Frederica was built, lending its name to the surrounding area. To call this church “nice” is to make the understatement of the century.
You certainly don’t have to be religious to come here; you’ll be welcome no matter what your views are (just make sure services aren’t in session before you barrel inside with a movie camera in tow!). It’s always polite to ask if videos are allowed inside the church, and to remember that there are times that the interior is not open to the public. This picturesque white church’s architecture brings a romantic hideaway to mind and makes a wonderful photo spot; don’t be surprised if most of your St. Simons vacation photos are of Christ Church! The grounds are also beautiful. Different types of plant life make up a stunning tropical atmosphere. You will find a burial place where author Eugenia Price, who wrote about many local people and places, was laid to rest.
Once inside Christ Church, you may be surprised. It isn’t fancy, but somehow the intricate woodwork makes it more quaint and beautiful than if it would be covered with gold and gems. If you are of the Episcopal faith and want to attend a service, this would be a great place to worship while on vacation. Just check their website to find out when services are held, for how long, and if there is anything you will need to know. Even if you don’t come to worship, always feel free to appreciate the sights. The stained glass adds a graceful and luxurious touch to the already stunning building.
Across from the church you will see a huge, gnarled tree that looks as if it’s of some importance. This tree is known as the Wesley Oak, and it’s said to be the very tree under which the Wesley brothers, John and Charles, preached in the mid-1700s, long before the current church was built. It is very easy to believe that the oak has seen so many years. Don’t forget to look closely at the wall surrounding the entrance to the church; graceful little crosses are carved intricately into the brick, adding to the idyllic scene.
The church has had a colorful history; the church that existed here in the 1800s was destroyed during the American Civil War, until Anson Dodge reconstructed the church into the form we see today. This was in 1884. One of Eugenia Price’s novels, Beloved Invader, tells the story of this man and his connections to Christ Church. Dodge is buried at the church, along with the builder of the original St. Simons Island Lighthouse, James Gould, and other notable people.
Also near the grounds of Christ Church you will find a little walkway area that pays homage to the Wesley brothers. Feel free to enjoy the Spanish moss and quiet ambiance of this beautiful island. Christ Church is a great attraction because it’s so different from the rides, costumed reenactors, and hustle and bustle that you may be used to. This portion of St. Simons is generally free of noise and traffic, adding to the appeal. It’s a deep, spiritual journey disguised as an island vacation, and should leave you with many warm and treasured memories.
While visiting Christ Church, don’t forget to check out the 18th century Fort Frederica, the desolate and intriguing Bloody Marsh battlefield where many Spaniards met their fates in 1742, the St. Simons Island Lighthouse, and the pier, as well as Gascoigne Bluff and the shopping village. There are lots of activities to browse on St. Simons Island, but the striking beauty and reverence of Christ Church should not be forgotten. One option is to read Eugenia Price’s “Beloved Invader” before or during your visit to St. Simons, and then make a family trip to the graveyard to see where the people in the book are buried. It’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the area before visiting.