Today I want to share one of my favorite historic places to visit and photos I took while there. This was part of my research for a pirate novel I am polishing.
In 1718 Stede Bonnet “The Gentleman Pirate” and his crew were imprisoned in the Court of Guard prison which once stood on the site of the current Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon in Charleston, South Carolina. It’s a great place to visit located at 122 East Bay Street at Broad Street.
A brass plaque on the back wall of the current building attests to the fact the site was once the place of arms or guard-post of the early colonists of South Carolina and where pirates were detained.
Inside the museum area you can see a great 1711 plan and map of the Charles Town harbor as illustrated by Edward Crisp.
Between the 1690’s to the 1730’s ten to thirteen foot walls protected Charles Town, with the harbor being the most heavily fortified. Here, a brick seawall was defended with cannons to oversee the safety of the harbor. The half-moon battery, as semi-circular protrusion located at the center of this seawall provided the formal entrance to the town from the sea. A segment of this brick wall is visible to visitors to the lower level of the Exchange Building and Provost Dungeon today.
As Charles Town continued to grow and prosper the north, west and southern walls of the city were gradually demolished to allow for expansion of the city. The construction materials were eventually dumped into the Cooper River harbor to expand the land mass which now includes at least a block which used to be under water. The current Exchange Building marks a spot where the waters once came to.
Walls in the museum area depict information about Major Stede Bonnet (1717-1718) and list his crew members who also stood trial with him. Bonnet, once a planter in Barbados, became a pirate, it is said, to escape a nagging wife. With his ship Revenge he joined Blackbeard, and preyed upon coast wise shipping off the Carolinas. He was captured, tried and hanged in Charleston in 1718.
The museum area also boasts a number of paintings and photos of the American Revolution and the Civil War related to Charleston.
The Provost Dungeon, on the lower level of the Exchange building, is a sight you don't want to miss. One can well imagine the days of pirate prisoners and later patriots, during the American Revolution, who were kept in this cold, dark place.
Visitors step down into a real dungeon! With barred window slits which opened onto the street above, one can well imagine escape was impossible for pirates or patriots.
I love to visit places like this, but heavens to Betsy, I'm glad I was born in the current century. How about you? Thanks for stopping by.