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Five Awesome Castles Hidden in South Carolina

South Carolina Castles

Most people tend to confuse castles with palaces, and it is not hard to see why since they look similar. The difference is that castles were mainly used for defense while palaces were dwelling places for royalty members. After the 16th century, castles became obsolete. According to How Stuff Works, they became obsolete once cannons, mortars, and guns were invented and improved. Most castles were built before the 16th century, yet they have been able to last until today. We will focus on the castles you didn't know were in South Carolina. By learning about these castles, you will understand why they were built and what makes them attractive. Here are five castles in South Carolina you should visit today.

5. The "Castle," Beaufort, Beaufort

Dr. Joseph Johnson built this structure in the 1850s. Since this structure is a mansion, it is not quite a 'true' castle. According to Explore Beaufort SC, the structure was nicknamed 'the castle' because of the moat-like effect caused by the Beaufort River flowing beside it. Before the structure was completed, it was used as a military hospital by Union Troops. As the Civil War continued, more deaths occurred. As a result, part of the castle was used as a morgue. The structure was not just used for the military. For instance, Joseph used this castle to hide his valuables because he felt Yankee forces would invade his castle. Today, you can pay an entrance fee of only $2 to explore it. The castle overlooks several villages near the Atlantic Ocean. You will roughly take 2 hours to explore the entire castle.

4. Gassaway Mansion, Greenville

The Gassaway Mansion is the largest private residence in the Upstate. It is a 40-room house built by Walter L. Gassaway and his wife, Minnie Quinn Gassaway. Minnie used the mansion mainly for entertainment activities like card parties and ballroom dancing. However, the castle was useful to the Gassaway family because it allowed them to supervise their 110-acre estate, which had a dairy and a working farm. This castle is known for its eclecticism. According to the National Register, the castle blends neoclassical and neo-Gothic elements such as two rooftop patios, a Palladian window, and a castellated tower. Currently, this castle is mostly used for wedding venues. You will be allowed to visit this castle when you are invited to a wedding in this venue. As of now, the castle isn't open to the public for tours.

3. Castle Mugdock, Sullivan's Island

This castle dates back to 1372 when Sir Patrick Graham owned it. Patrick bought the site from the Earl of Lennox in the mid-thirteenth century, and it is likely the same time he began building this castle. The castle was constructed on the rocky promontory, which overlooks Loch Mugdock. Additionally, it has a rectangular arrangement with a curtain wall that connects four square towers on each corner. Its curtain wall was built to enclose a large area and incorporate gun loops. Patrick kept on rebuilding this castle since it was constantly attacked when he participated in the wars of 1641 and 1645. The last time this castle was renovated was in 2009. This castle has two conspicuous buildings: the Romanesque Summer Hall and the Gothic-style Winter Hall. The Summer Hall overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and houses seven bedrooms. As for the Winter Hall, it contains twenty-seven-foot ceilings and a private terrace that overlooks Fort Sumter.

2. Castle Pinckney, Mt. Pleasant, Charleston

This castle began to play second fiddle to Fort Sumter in the mid-nineteenth century. By this time, Fort Sumter was built with cannons with a high shooting range, while this castle had no such weapons. As a result, the castle was relegated to a storehouse for federal property in case South Carolina decided to secede. South Carolina ended up seceding in 1860 and became a dwelling place for the lieutenant, an ordnance sergeant, four mechanics, and thirty laborers. Since it was inefficient to defend them, the state seized the castle and became a house for prisoners. However, the castle quickly became crowded, so others had to be transferred to the Charleston City Jail. Presently, the state owns the castle, so it is not open to the public. If you want to see a glimpse of the castle, you will have to take a boat ride from Fort Sumter.

1. Old Jail Castle, Walterboro

The structure was built by J. and B. Lucas of Charleston between 1855 and 1856. In this era, Gothic designs were popular, which explains this castle's Gothic design. The builders were able to design the building with the help of two architects, Edward C. Jones, and Francis D. Lee. At the time, the architects were highly sought after. They were largely responsible for designing churches, courthouses, college buildings, and private residences throughout South Carolina. Although mainly a jailhouse, its design resembles a scaled-down, fortified castle. Its front façade has turret-like structures, crenelated parapets, and a central tower above the main entrance. The main entrance is shielded by a central pointed archway entrance and an extended, enclosed porch with buttresses. The structure is easy to spot since it is only a few blocks away from restaurants, shops, and antique stores on East Washington Street. People find it bizarre that this structure was built in a region deemed non-criminal. Some people have guessed that it was built for the sake of showing off. A portion of this castle is open to the public since it hosts the Colleton County Probate Court.


It is no surprise that few people know about these South Carolinian castles. You wouldn't blame them since they commonly think of castles as fictitious structures. Others assume that they were destroyed during wars. However, you have to understand why the castles last to this day. Remember, they were used to shield people from danger. Therefore, there is no way that they would build weak castles. So, if you have never seen a castle in South Carolina, consider any of the five. However, we have mentioned that some castles are not open for public viewing. For such castles, you should only view them from afar. The last thing you would want is a lawsuit for trespassing.

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Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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