The parish was founded in 1712, but the original church was not completed until 1724, construction being interrupted due to the Yemassee War. Following the Union occupation of Beaufort in the fall of 1861, the church interior was gutted and turned into a hospital for Union soldiers. St. Helena’s is one of the oldest churches in the U.S. in continuous service. Built of brick with a stucco finish, the present church has undergone several changes over the years, most recently a major restoration from 1998 to 2000.
In the cemetery are buried many famous families of the area. Gravesites include Colonel John “Tuscarora Jack” Barnwell, a famous colonial era Indian fighter; Thomas Heyward, Jr., signer of the Declaration of Independence; Confederate General Richard “Fightin’ Dick” Anderson; and two British officers killed at the Battle of Port Royal during the Revolutionary War.