Begun in 1713 and later described as one of the best preserved and most interesting churches in the United States, St. James Church received its inspiration from the English, Barbadian and Huguenot colonists that settled the Goose Creek area of Berkeley County soon after the founding of South Carolina in 1670.
High above the pulpit is a decoration that cannot be found in any other colonial church – a royal coat of arms. Tradition holds that because of the Royal Arms of George I, the British spared St. James while destroying or vandalizing most other parish churches.
In addition to the royal arms, another unusual adornment is the hatchment of the Izard family. It is one of only two hatchments found in an American Church; this being a custom seldom practiced outside of England.
Carved in the pediment over the entrance is a pelican tearing at her breast to feed her young – the symbol of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. The society supported St. James Church by sending its first rector, the Reverend Dr. Francis Le Jau, to South Carolina. Dr. Le Jau is buried under the alter.