Rock Hill Stories and Tips

Brattonsville & The Patriot Connection

The battle ground Photo, Rock Hill, South Carolina

Okay, if somehow or another you missed the 1999 movie The Patriot , then shame on you. It can be purchased or rented on DVD, so make sure to see it. The movie has the triple crown of hunkiness, with Mel Gibson as Benjamin Martin, Heath Ledger as his son Gabriel, and Jason Isaacs as Col. William Tavington. You may also know Jason as his turn as the evilly delicious Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. That alone makes this movie worth viewing.

The premise of the movie is deals with widower Benjamin Martin (attention Hollywood starlets, if you’re asked to play Mel Gibson's wife you might want to think twice. He seems to be a widower quite often!) and his seven children. He is trying to keep his family together and put his past as a soldier behind him. When the war breaks out his oldest son Gabriel joins the militia. Benjamin soon has to join the forces when the yummy and evil Tavington takes Gabriel. Great movie!

Now some of you big cities folks such as those of you in NYC, DC, or LA may gruff and think "big deal we have movies filmed here all the time". And granted I have had friends in LA and NYC who tell me it is actually more of a hassle than anything. They say you never know when your block, road, or even highway may be blocked. But round these parts, it is a pretty big deal to have a film shot here, especially one with the caliber of an actor such as Mel. So the folks at Brattonsville and other places nearby where the movie was shot have every right to be proud of being featured in such a prominent movie. Shooting for the film was done at Brattonsville, Camden, SC, and various places throughout Charleston, SC.

Inside the visitors center, you can see a framed picture of Mel and photos from the Patriot . I was here several years ago for their Candlelight Tour, and at the time, they had a photo of Mel from the movie, and the frame was signed by the cast and crew, as well as a costume worn by Heath and one by Jason on display. I noticed they were gone when we went in this past week. I inquired with the receptionist as to what happened to these items. She informed me that the autographed picture was moved upstairs to another room, away from the public. No explanation of why, but I can only assume people were handling it too much or trying to take it with them. She said the costumes were sent back to the studios. The movie is now almost 6 years old, so I would have no idea why they needed them back now. So if Mel, Heath, or Jason are reading this, please see if you can get the visitor’s center back their costumes.

Now, when I was here 2 years ago for the candlelight tour, we were inside the visitor’s center after the tour, munching on cookies and warming up our bellies with some hot chocolate. Naturally, when women gather and Mel Gibson has been around, they want to know if Mel is as nice or sexy in person as on the big screen. The volunteers here helped out the film crew, so most of the got to meet the cast, and I was assured that both Heath and Mel were indeed just as sexy as you would imagine and both genuinely nice guys who thankfully don’t have the "megastar" mindset. But it was the story of Jason that surprises me most. Now, I adore Mel and Heath, but I just adore Jason in this movie. Okay, I know he is mean to Mel’s character and kills Heath’s character (sorry to spoil the movie, but it is 6 years old now). But he is just such a hottie in the movie, I overlook those small things! But the volunteer said Jason was just an absolute sweetie. She said he would come in every morning and give the female volunteers a big hug and often had breakfast sent over for them. She couldn’t stop talking enough about how kind Jason was. So I knew there was a reason I adored him.

Okay, so if you are in Brattonsville and want to take your own Mel Gibson Patriot tour, here is where you will find you can walk in the footsteps of Mel, Heath, and Jason.

Colonel Bratton House : The interior of the house was used as Annie Howard’s parent’s house. Anne was played by Lisa Brenner (the Diary of Ellen Reinbaumer), and her character married Heath. The house was built in 1776. It is one the same side as the visitor’s center and is part of the tour open to the public.

Hightower Hall: This house was used as the Camden Plantation House for both the exterior and interior shots. The house was built between 1854-1856. Currently, the house is not open to the public. You can see it on the drive in. It sits on the left-hand side of the road, and there is room to pull off and go up to the house and photograph it. It is currently undergoing restoration and is supposed to be open back up to the public in 2006.

The Homestead House, or the main house: This was the home of Dr. Bratton and his family. The house was also built between 1823-1826. The house has been restored to its original beauty and is the main focus of Brattonsville. The interior of the house is used as the interior of Charlotte’s Plantation House. The character of Charlotte was played by actress Jolie Richardson in the movie, and she played Mel’s sister-in-law, who, it appears, gets Mel in the end of the movie (and hopefully lives).

The Battlegrounds : The battlegrounds were simply part of the land owned by the Bratton family. For the movie, it served as the military encampment where Mel’s character signs up for the militia. The land is used for battle reenactments as well for other demonstrative and educational purposes. It also serves as parking area at other times. It is open to the public, and you can feel free to walk around during the tour.

Now for all things Patriot I did find a very useful web site at www.patriotsource.com. When I was at Brattonsville for the Candlelight Tour I picked up a very helpful brochure that lists the sites for the movie. When I was here this time, I asked and these are no longer printed. So if you are truly looking to visit the places used in the movie, if you will contact me, I will be glad to send you out a copy of the brochure.

One place that seems to be missing on this list and others I have seen is Gullah Island , otherwise known as St. Helena Island. In the movie, this is where Heath’s character gets married. Gullah Island is located near Beaufort, SC. This is where the children’s show Gullah Gullah Island is filmed. They practice a religion similar to voodoo. Again, please realize that voodoo is not what is often shown in horror movies. Most people who practice this religion intend no harm to anyone.

If you are out this way, then checking out the places in the movie is a lot of fun. And you get to see some really beautiful places in the process. So you see Mel Gibson really was here!

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