Located a few miles downriver from Middleton Place on 125 acres is Drayton Hall, home of the prominent Drayton family. Constructed in 1742, this Georgian Palladian treasure is now owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. John Drayton, who built the house, was a member of England's Royal Council. However, his son, William Henry, became a radical revolutionary and ardent supporter of independence from England. He would rise to become a powerful congressman and Chief Justice of South Carolina.
On March 29, 1780, British soldiers and Hessian (German) Jagers would sail down the Ashley River and come ashore at Drayton Hall. From this approach, they would lay siege to Charleston and occupy the city, taking over 3,000 patriots prisoner.
One of the finest examples of colonial architecture in the United States, Drayton Hall is the only Ashley River plantation to survive the Yankee Invasion of 1865. According to legend, John Drayton told Union soldiers that the house was serving as hospital for smallpox victims. They believed him, and the house was spared.
The mansion remained the property of the Drayton family for seven generations. It has never been modernized with electricity, plumbing, or other modern conveniences. It appears exactly as it would have 200 years ago, albeit without furnishings or artwork of any kind. The tours here focus on the architecture of the house. The plasterwork and molding, mostly done by slaves, are very impressive. One thing I found interesting outside of the house is the pond, which sits about 100 yards in front of it. If you look at the pond from just the right angle, you can see a reflection of the house. Give yourself at least an hour to enjoy the house, grounds, and gift shop. Drayton Hall is open daily from 10am to 4pm. The house tour is $12. Admissions for the grounds is only $3, but I would not recommend missing out on the wonderful house tour. For additional information, visit www.draytonhall.org.