St. John in the Wilderness – Hendersonville, North Carolina - Atlas Obscura

St. John in the Wilderness

Hendersonville, North Carolina

This historic church houses the grave of a soldier who fell during the Battle of Waterloo. 


This lovely old stone church dates back to 1833 and was originally created as a private chapel. In 1836, it was deeded to the Episcopal Church. The church still remains in excellent condition today and sits on a mound surrounded by several heavy granite graves.

What made the church so unique for the times was that white people and slaves were allowed to worship inside together. The very first wedding performed in the church was between two slaves. Many free blacks and slaves were buried in the church’s cemetery. 

Immediately adjacent to the church, in what would be considered a favorable position, rests a small grave marked by an unassuming brass plaque. The plaque honors John Brown, who fell during the Battle of Waterloo, which ended the Napoleonic Era.  Brown served in the Royal Scots Greys in Captain Vernon’s Troop. Many of the Greys were new and untested recruits. However, they put up a ferocious fight when they captured one of the French Battle Standards and caused major confusion among the enemy ranks.

Both the historic church and the equally historic town of Flat Rock are both well worth the visit.  

Know Before You Go

This church does hold regular services, so check the website for visiting hours.