Visitors to Charleston, South Carolina would be hard pressed to find a more perfect setting to listen to a ghost story than the Unitarian Universalist Church graveyard, where the Spanish moss sways in the wind, beckoning them to wander through the maze of lush overgrowth and headstones dating back to 1772.
Tour Charleston has exclusive rights to use the graveyard for its nighttime The Ghosts of Charleston tour, which is named after a book written by company owner Julian T. Buxton III. According to the tour company website,
Real-time hauntings only occur a handful of times a year. However, since 1996, when we started what is now Charleston’s oldest ghost tour, spirts in the Unitarian Church graveyard have reached out to many people on our tour in visual, tactile and auditory ways.
During a recent trip to Charleston, my husband and I decided to try our luck at encountering a spirit, joining 17 other daring souls for a 90-minute walking ghost tour of the Holy City. As we wove our way through the charming streets of the historic district, our guide shared tales of supernatural events.
We learned about haunted hotspots like Poogan’s Porch, a restaurant that is supposedly home to a resident ghost, Zoe St. Amand, who owned the house in the early 1900s. As we continued our stroll, we stopped at numerous other landmarks to learn more spine-tingling details about the city’s people.
Finally, we came to the graveyard, where we soaked up tales from the past as well as eerie experiences that Tour Charleston has collected from recent tour goers.
One of the most chilling stories our guide shared was about the Woman in White. According to legend, she is the ghost of Anna Ravenel, who was buried in the graveyard. Many Charlestonians believe Anna was the basis for Poe’s poem, Annabel Lee. The two supposedly fell in love during Poe’s time as a soldier stationed at nearby Fort Moultrie. Past tour goers have reported seeing a woman in a white dress walking through the graveyard.
While no one encountered a ghost during our tour, the opportunity to learn more about Charleston’s rich history was well worth our time and money. And there’s always next time. Guides rotate stories each evening to help ensure that every tour is one-of-a-kind.
Tours are held at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. nightly and leave from Buxton Books, 160 King Street. A moderate amount of walking is involved, so comfortable shoes and clothing are recommended. The tour is wheelchair accessible.
Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for ages 7-12 and free for children younger than 6. Discounts are available for students, seniors, military and AAA members. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit https://www.tourcharleston.com/ghost-tours.