Trinity Cathedral was on our to-do list for Columbia, SC, near the bottom, but Ruth & I lingered too long at Congaree, so we only had 1 hour to fill before our appointment at the Governor’s Mansion. It moved up the list. Sometimes, an attraction that you don’t expect to see turns out to be very worthwhile. However, a tour list can have so many places of worship on it that they begin to blur together and the final one ends up being on my one-too-many list. Luckily, my Columbia list had only one cathedral on it.
Trinity is memorable for its windows and its graveyard, but I could not verify a lot of what I heard during the tour. Our volunteer guide, a member of the church, was dear but new at the job. Before we even started seeing Trinity, she and her more experienced mate had a disagreement about the Cathedral’s architectural style. I suspect that Gothic was correct.
The first windows we saw were in the back of the cathedral and mostly had flower themes. Our guide told us they were Tiffany, and they certainly looked like they were. But the Trinity Cathedral website said they were in the Tiffany-style. They were certainly easy on the eyes. Our guide told us that this cathedral, which is across the street from the State House, has 3,000 members. The website says more than 3,600. She told us that it was modeled on York in England. I assume that’s York Minster Cathedral.
While I took photos of the unverified Tiffanies, Ruth and our guide walked toward the altar to admire the windows over it. When I joined them they were discussing copper foil stained glass windows, which the colorful windows supposedly were. Trinity’s brochure calls them the Shand windows made by the Belcher Mosaic Glass Company. In any event, they were spectacular. Trinity Cathedral has 3 rose windows. Built in 1845, only 3 of the windows we were seeing were original, like the slightly hidden green one below.
Our charming guide told us that her nickname is Patty but that her give name is Patience. She said that she was of French-Scottish ancestry and the 8th female in her family to have this name. Her granddaughter was #8. She took us outside to the graveyard to show us where some family members were buried. I have no doubt she was accurate about this. As we approached, she told us the difference between a graveyard and a cemetery. A graveyard is attached to a church and used for member burial; but a cemetery, being for everyone, doesn’t demand membership. I didn’t know this but verified this difference via research. The graveyard was as impressive as the cathedral. This graveyard contains the remains of many Confederate casualties, 6 South Carolina governors, and the Confederacy’s poet laureate, Henry Timrod.
Columbia’s Trinity Cathedral was an unexpected delight and a 5 Compass attraction, but I experienced some confusion while learning about its many beautiful windows. This didn’t diminish my admiration of them.