Exploring further afield again, we travel to Middleton Place, not far from Drayton Hall, which we visited several weeks ago. Along Highway 61, you will see the signs and markers for Middleton Place. As with Drayton Hall, this visit will take you back into the early history of our region and our nation.
The Middletons, like the Draytons, came to Carolina from Barbados. In 1678, Edward Middleton arrived in Carolina and established his plantation, The Oaks, near Goose Creek. The plantation was eventually inherited by Edward's grandson Henry Middleton around 1737. Henry acquired Middleton Place on the Ashley River through marriage in 1741, and he and his wife spent most of their time there. Henry added wings to each side of the main house. Unfortunately, the Union forces burned much of the property, and further damage was caused by the earthquake in 1886. One wing was saved and has since been restored.
Henry began the design and planting of the formal gardens on his estate, and these gardens continue to brand the landscape at Middleton Place. It is said that the first camellia plantings in America were here at Middleton. The camellias were first planted under the guidance of Henry's son Arthur Middleton, and the gardens were further developed under following generations. This property invites you to stroll the allées, view the Middleton Oak tree, wander along the bank of the Ashley River, and enjoy the harmony and balance that surrounds you. In today's world, Middleton place can be quite the escape!
The geometric design enhances the sensation of orderliness. Stand at the ruins of the original house to get the best view of the breathtaking butterfly lakes that unfold below. Visit the rice house and get a feel for early rice production in Carolina.
In addition to exploring the grounds, visit the remaining wing, which is furnished with Middleton furniture and memorabilia. Hear the stories of this family who helped shape our state and our country. Henry Middleton served as the President of the First Continental Congress, and he gave Middleton Place to his son Arthur, who signed the Declaration of Independence. Arthur's son Henry was a governor of South Carolina.
Visit the stableyards and experience the history of the working rice plantation. See Eliza's house with its excellent exhibit on the lives of the enslaved Africans.
By this time, you might be hungry. Walk over to Middleton Place Restaurant and enjoy the perfect place to take a break and eat good food! Afterwards, you can continue to explore and savor the history and beauty of Middleton Place.
Next week, we will continue to explore Charleston history through her places and people.