The name giving Drayton family had made their fortune as sugar growers in the Caribbean and used their wealth to invest in South Carolina, starting in the 17th century. John Drayton bought the property in the late 1730s, built the house and commenced a rice plantation there. The Drayton Hall owners were slave holders and possessed up to 200 African slaves to run plantation and mansion. The end of the American Civil War (1865) finished slavery and the Drayton`s had to give up rise production which now needed expensive machines. In the late 20th century the sold plantation & mansion for a generous price to the National Tyrust, a privately funded nonprofit US organization. The former rice fields developed back into a swamp. Today the mansion is surrounded by an almost untouched forrest, meadows, ponds and swamps.
Last week my wife and I paid $20 a head for admission to the former plantation and a guided tour through the house. This was a good investment. The very competent tour guide told us a lot about the history of the house and explained the architecture and the economics of the plantation.
We also indulged walking through the surrounding meadows and forrest, viewing ponds and swamp. I especially enjoyed spotting the high trees (partly oaks) which were covered with spanish moss.
Drayton Hall offers a glance into the colonial history of the U.S. blended with the lush vegetation of Southern Carolina. Highly recommended.