This plantation is located about 13 miles southwest along Ashley River Road. It takes a good 30 minutes or so to reach there from downtown. It is regarded as the oldest planation in the south dating back to 1676. This rice plantation has been owned for the majority of those years by the Drayton family from Barbados.
Nearly 400 acres today, the plantation is quite extensive. The information and ticket kiosk will give you price list for all the tours. You can also go on-line to see the price-list. General Admission (as of August 2022) is $29 for one adult and children from 6-12, $15 dollars. To actually see the Plantation House will cost you $10; a Nature tram $10; a Nature Boat ride along the Ashely River $10; the Audubon Swamp $10 and the Historic Garden Walk $10. Literally, one can spend an entire day at the Magnolia Plantation.
Besides the General Admission ticket, we decided to also tour the Plantation House. Included with the General Admission ticket is a tour of the slavery cabins. That tour is called “From Slavery to Freedom.” The oldest slave cabin dates back to 1840.
We walked over to the Cabins, but there is a parking lot close by to the well-constructed bathrooms. On a hot July day, the AC bathrooms was a welcomed relief.
“Joe” was our guide. An outstanding guide who can date his ancestry to about 1840. For about 30 minutes Joe gave an over-view about slavery. Many people did not know that Africans themselves enslaved other Africans. The main difference to this slavery is that African slaves that remained in Africa were free after 7 years. The Africans purchased by Europeans were “chattel” and always remained as slaves—even their offspring.
Joe did admit that 6 slaves escaped from this plantation which grew rice. One of the visitors did ask if “any slaves volunteered to come to America?” Joe later thanked us for not laughing. No question is stupid.
We had enough time before our 11:00AM house tour to walk around the path along Ashley River. I think a boat ride for anyone who does not know about the “Low Country” would be a valuable experience—well worth $10 dollars.
A large plaque states that the British landed close by during the Revolutionary War. There is, indeed, plenty of history around Charleston.
There is a café kiosk on property to get drinks and snacks. We indulged in having tea.
Visiting in July is “warm” but doable. I think the fall and spring would be ideal times.
There were plenty of people for the 11:00 house tour. We were broken-up into manageable groups. Our tour guide was excellent, filled with passion, telling us about the history of the family and the plantation. There is AC in the house as well as a few fans that I gyrated to.
We quickly learned that this house was the present home of two other previous homes that burnt down. The Union forces during the Civil War burnt down the Plantation in 1865. The house is filled, though, with interesting original family antiques.
To make ends meet, the Plantation and its gardens were open to the public in circa 1870’s. The Drayton’s lost all their money by investing into the Confederacy. This family is a good example of being from “money to rags, back to riches.”
We were not happy to learn that “Photographs are forbidden” in the Plantation house. Not even photos without flash. We have been in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia and the Met in NYC where pictures are allowed. It would have been considerate of management to let us know this policy before purchasing the tickets. We may, though, have still toured this home knowing the photography policy. One of the reasons we give the Magnolia Plantation Four stars, instead of Five.
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