Our Next Event is Creeping Up on You!

Oct. 16th 2013

Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast Spooky Ghost Story and Fog

As I drove down the lane, a thick fog seemed to be blowing in from the fields.  It was a dark night, darker than I had ever seen before.  Generally I can see the glow of the mansion’s lights at the entry, but tonight the thick curtain of fog only gives me just a few feet to view.

Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast Spooky Ghost Story and Fog

As I passed under the Red Cedar trees that line the lane, I got a creepy feeling that many eyes were watching me. Could it be the soldiers that may have been in camped here during the Civil War? I almost expected a soldier to step out from behind a tree.

The wind that blew in the fog was a soft and gentle wind that moved the tree branches just slightly. Or was it the hands of the unseen moves branches for a better view? Were they standing there watching as I headed to the mansion?

Suddenly the two small white posted appeared from nowhere. It was almost startling. As they came into view, you could almost image two figures standing there, waiting… and watching. Had they been replaced with guardians cursed to stand picket for eternity? I found myself looking at them closer than I had ever looked before. And even as I pass them, still the mansion wasn’t in view. Where are the lights? I know I left lights on.

Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast Spooky Ghost Story and Fog

I curved around the long driveway heading to my space in the parking area. Here the fog seemed to get thicker. And still I can’t see the mansion. Surely I should be able to see the lights. I curved around to my space and to my relief the security light’s motion detector turned on the light. I knew it wouldn’t stay on long. It would turn off soon. So I hurried to get my things and get out of the car.

Just as I stepped out, a bag fell from my grasp and spilled onto the ground. My mind raced as I quickly gathered the items and shoved them into another bag. The whole time, my mind is saying, “Hurry, the light is going to go out.”

Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast Spooky Ghost Story and Fog

I rose up and started walking, almost running from my car. And then it happened. The light went out. All I could hear in my mind was… No!

“Okay, I can do this”, my mind tried to reason. Sure I can. I have walked this way hundreds if not thousands of times. “Just start walking”, my mind said. But my feet didn’t want to obey. What if I bump into something? What if there are people just standing on the edge of my view, ready to reach out and touch me, grab me… pull me into the dark fog never to be seen again.

“Stop it” my mind screamed. “You are being stupid!” You know this place; know it as if you have been here all your life. There isn’t anything here that will hurt you.” my mind reasoned with me. Okay feet, start moving. And then my feet took a step.

Crunch went the gravel under my feet as my eyes strained to see the lights from the mansion. Crunch, crunch, crunch… my feet took up a reassuring rhyme. Then I finally saw it… light. Just a faint glow, but it was there. I’m almost there. Crunch, crunch, crunch… same rhyme. The light seems to get stronger with each step.

Crunch, crunch, crunch… crunch/crunch. What is this? Did my feet add in some extra steps? I stopped and listened. Not a sound. Okay, it’s just my head playing games with me. I start walking again. Crunch, crunch, crunch… crunch/crunch. Now wait a minute. I know I’m not hearing things. I know I am hearing extra steps. Okay, it has to be because the fog is so thick. The sound is echoing off the fog. That has to be it. I start walking again.

In my mind, I keep telling myself, “Just walk towards the light. It will get brighter and it will give you some comfort.” Crunch, crunch, crunch… crunch/crunch. Under my breathe, I don’t know if it is out of fear or just getting feed up, I say aloud, “Stop it.” I wait, listen and hold my breath. Not a sound. I’m going crazy, I know it.

I start moving again. The light is getting brighter. I can almost see the door. Crunch, crunch, crunch… no extra sounds. Yes, I can see the door, I think. Crunch, crunch, crunch… I think I can see inside the mansion. Crunch, crunch, crunch… crunch/crunch.

I stopped and held my breath again. Did I hear it again? What is going on? What is making the extra sounds! I just want it to stop. I start walking again. Crunch, crunch, crunch… crunch/crunch/crunch/crunch. This time it sounds close. I can’t take it anymore. I turn and yell, “Stop it! I don’t want to play.”

And there it was. From the light reflecting on the thick fog, I could see the outline of a shadow. It was taller than me, so I knew it wasn’t my shadow casting against the fog from light of the mansion. I quickly turned and rushed up the sidewalk and took the steps two at a time.

As I stood on the porch, fumbling with my keys to open the door, the light of the mansion bathed me in a warm reassurance. In what seemed like forever, the key finally turned the bolt and I was inside.

Belle Grove Plantation and Southeastern Virginia Paranormal Investigation with Laine Crosby Event on October 25th, 26th and 31st. Paranormal Ghost Hunts, Workshop and Medium Event.


October’s Event for Belle Grove Plantation will be a Paranormal Workshop and Ghost Hunt. We will have three spooky nights of Ghost Hunting with a real Paranormal Investigative team! If you have ever wanted to be a Ghost Hunt like those you have seen on television, here is your chance! Equipment, video and recorders will be used to investigate Belle Grove Plantation. The Ghost Hunts will start at 8pm and end at 4am. You can Ghost Hunt on Friday, October 25th, Saturday, October 26th and for those who dare… Thursday, October 31st on Halloween. Space will be for just 25 people per night.

(Note – at this time – Saturday, October 26th Ghost Hunt has only 6 spaces left)

On Saturday, October 26th, Belle Grove Plantation will host a special all day Paranormal Workshop. The event will start at 10:30am with Special Guest Speaker, Laine Crosby, Medium Investigator. At 1:00pm, Special Hosts, Southeast Virginia Paranormal Investigations from Newport New will conduct special half hour classes on Paranormal Investigations.

Tickets are limited, so don’t wait until the last minute to get yours!

Please visit our Online Store at  https://squareup.com/market/belle-grove-plantation-bed-and-breakfast/paranormal-plantation-workshops-and-overnight-ghost-hunt-at-belle-grove-plantation  for more information on the event and to purchase tickets.


Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | Comments Off on Our Next Event is Creeping Up on You!


Oct. 31st 2012

With today being Halloween, I thought I would share some ghost stories about some of the places we have talked about in the blog.

So gather around for some stories I found from the Central Rappahannock Regional Library in Fredericksburg.

If you dare….


(From our blog: This was the location of the dual between cousins – Posting Family Feud – published in June)

Fredericksburg, Virginia

Chatham was built in 1771 by William Fitzhugh and named after his classmate, Sir William Pitt, Earl of Chatham. The Georgian mansion became noted for its owner’s hospitality during colonial times, but played an even more significant role during the Civil War when it served as a Union headquarters. Walt Whitman and Clara Barton nursed the Union wounded there.

High on a bluff overlooking the Rappahannock River and the city of Fredericksburg stands Chatham. The mansion has hosted many important people, including George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and the Marquis de Lafayette. The spectral apparition haunting the estate is none of these illustrious figures, however. The ghost of Chatham is an English girl who returns in memory of a lost love. Dressed all in white, she walks upon her favorite path at the estate in fulfillment of a deathbed vow.

She was brought to Chatham by her father, who wished to sever the young woman’s romance with an English drysalter. Despite the enjoyable social life of the Virginia estate, the girl pined for her lover. The young drysalter followed her to America, however, and the lovers secretly planned their elopement. Finally the chosen night arrived. The young man silently moored a boat on the Rappahannock and cautiously placed a ladder against his love’s window. But instead of climbing down into the arms of her beloved, the young woman found herself enveloped by General George Washington. A guest at Chatham at the time, the general was informed of the elopement plans by a servant.

Washington had the drysalter arrested on that fateful night, and returned the girl to her father’s custody. Taken back to England by her father, the girl ultimately married someone of a more suitable social standing. But she never forgot her true love or the events at Chatham, and vowed to walk her favorite path on the anniversary of her death.

Several visitors and residents of Chatham have watched the English woman as she makes her anniversary journey on the path now known as Ghost Walk. Always seen between noon and midnight, the lady in white has visited Chatham once every seven years since her death on June 21, 1790.


(From our blog: This is one of the Historic Homes we have visited – Posting Kenmore Plantation – published in September)

Kenmore Plantation

Kenmore was built in 1752 by Col. Fielding Lewis for his bride, Betty Washington Lewis, only sister of George Washington. One of the most successful planters in Fredericksburg, Lewis lost part of his fortune when Virginia’s government failed to reimburse him for financing the Fredericksburg Arms Manufactory during the Revolutionary War. Lewis died in 1782 and the estate was eventually sold out of the family. The Georgian mansion and gardens are now restored to their colonial splendor, and one of its rooms is considered to be among “The 100 Most Beautiful Rooms in America”.

Betty Washington Lewis
sister of George Washington

Some people say the ghost of Fielding Lewis is haunted by his financial problems. Other theorize he returns to Kenmore simply because he cannot bear to leave his beautiful plantation – even in death.

Fielding Lewis

No one can be sure why Col. Lewis haunts his 18th century estate, but that he often returns cannot be denied. From the sound of heavy footsteps echoing through empty halls to fireplace andirons mysteriously crashing to the floor, Lewis has made his ghostly presence known to many visitors to the mansion. And Kenmore’s former master has been seen as well as heard.

His apparition usually appears in an upstairs bedchamber where Lewis attended to business matters. There the ghostly Lewis, attired in Revolutionary clothes, has been seen standing and reading a document he holds in his hands. The Colonel has also been seen in the same room, busily studying his accounts, with a look of deep concern in his eyes.
A man who sacrificed his fortune to the cause of American independence, Col. Fielding Lewis may still be troubled by his financial difficulties, as he wanders the rooms of his beloved estate.


(From our blog: This is the plantation that William Bernard took his new wife and children to after the death of Fannie Hipkins-Bernard- Posting A Father’s Love – published in June)

Mannsfield Plantation
in ruins after the Civil War

This 18th century stone mansion survived more than a century o f American change and turmoil until it was burned accidentally by Confederate forces during the Civil War. It was built in 1749 by Mann Page, a delegate to the House of Burgesses. The Mannsfield property adjoins the Fredericksburg Country Club, which is not open to the public.

“The South Will Rise Again,” is a familiar saying. But for the Confederate soldiers who haunt Mannsfield, the South never died. During the Civil War, Mannsfield was occupied by both Union and Confederate forces. The estate served as hospital and headquarters for both armies at different times. But it is the ghostly men in gray who return to haunt Mannsfield. Several nearby residents have sighted the apparitions of the Confederate soldiers as they congregate beneath the estate’s large trees.

The greatest number of ghostly visits occurred, however, while a clairvoyant woman was living in a nearby home. Regularly, the woman saw the uniformed men as they stood guard, tended to their horses, or cared for wounded soldiers. Perhaps these spectral Confederates who still haunt Mannsfield are awaiting the resurrection of the South.


(From our blog: This is the tavern across the street from the Schooler House B&B – Posting Weekend at the Plantation – published in August)

The Rising Sun Tavern

The Rising Sun Tavern recreates tavern life of the 18th century, when a tavern was the center of colonial life. Built in 1760 by George Washington’s brother, Charles, as a home, the building began its role of a tavern in 1792. It served as the city’s post office and stage coach stop. Originally known as the Eagle Tavern among the most patriotic symbols of early America, the tavern continued to operate under several keepers until 1827, when its liquor license was revoked.

Charles Washington
Brother of George Washington

Although its days of challenging and lively political discussions and games of cards and chess over pints of ale are past, the Rising Sun Tavern is still a lively historic attraction and its ghostly inhabitant maintains the spirit of cheer and mischief that once thrived at the tavern. For instance, one tavern guide found that the ghost delighted in unplugging the lights in an upstairs room. Tired of having to replug the cords, she finally cried, “Come on now, stop it!” As she turned to leave the room, the guide suddenly felt herself slipping to the floor as the tavern ghost pulled the rug out from under her. The lights remained plugged in the rest of the day, however.

Another hostess was coming down the stairs early one morning when she felt something tugging at the hem of her dress. She looked to see if her colonial gown was caught on something, but found nothing amiss. As she tried to proceed down the steps, however, she felt herself held tightly in place. Long a believer that the tavern’s ghost was its last owner, John Frazier, she exclaimed, “All right, John, let go!” Immediately she felt herself freed as the ghost let go of her dress hem.

Evidently the ghost is a playful apparition, for he delights in pulling the mob caps from the tavern hostesses’ heads. He also moves objects, such as candles, from their regular storage places. The tavern ghost may also be filled with the Christmas spirit since he delights in pulling his pranks during the holiday season.

Stratford Hall

Stratford Plantation
Historic Haunts

This is the family plantation of the Lee Family and Robert E. Lee. Last weekend I attended their Historic Haunts event on Saturday. It was open to people of all ages. With spooky games for the kids, food and drink and a ghost tour of the Great House, fun was to be had by all.

I was on the first ghost tour at twilight. Our tour guide was a kind gentleman dressed in colonial wear. He guided us around the grounds of the Great House and through it with our flashlights as the only source of light. Along the way we met up with other staff dressed in either colonial wear or costumes that wouldn’t be too scary for the young ones.

The stories we heard told of ghostly appearances of men, women and children that called this grand plantation home. After a walk through the Great House and boxwood garden, our tour ended at the family cemetery vault, which no longer has remains in it. It was a great time hearing the stories and seeing the plantation as the sun disappeared.

Once I returned to Belle Grove Plantation, I had a surprise waiting for me on my cell phone. During the first story, just before entering the house, I decided to video tape the guide telling the story of the ghostly visitors of Stratford Hall. Brett had not been able to attend and I wanted him to see what I got to see.

When I played the video on my phone, the tape started out fine. It was nice and clear, in full color. As the story moved along, the color of the video seemed to go to a gray color. It started out light at first. Then all of a sudden it when completely gray. But what was surprising was that the video started jumping around as if something was cause some kind of electrical disturbance. As suddenly as it came, it left.

So what could it have been?

Did one of the ghostly visitors walk in front of my cell phone as I taped the guide?

Who knows. But it does make you wonder.

We are just days away from the Silent Auction deadline!

Get your bids in soon!

Deadline is Friday, November 2nd at 11:59pm Eastern

Get your piece of Virginia History and help us preserve the history at Belle Grove Plantation!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 46 Comments »

Petersburg and an Unexpected Visitor

Aug. 12th 2012

La Villa Romaine Bed and Breakfast


“Oh wow”

That was mostly what I said Friday and Saturday in Petersburg! We arrived late on Friday, thanks to my job holding me over and two traffic accidents blocking our escape from Norfolk. But when we pulled up to the house, all I could say was, “Oh wow.” This Italian style home that was built in 1858 was just a grand place!

Tiles on the Front Porch

As we walked up to the door, again the word, “Oh wow” escaped my lips. The front doors are 12 feet tall! There are two sets, the outer set and then the inner set, allowing a small reception space between the two. When Mrs. Roy opened the door to the main hall, I felt my breath rush out as I tried to say yet again, “Oh wow!” La Villa Romaine Bed and Breakfast is filled with beautiful French and Asian antiques that were from Mrs. Roy’s family in France.

Main Hall

Mrs. Roy warmly welcomed us and walked us upstairs to our room first to put away our things. The staircase leading up to our room was really grand! As you walked the first set of stairs, you were met by a small sitting area on the landing and a hall that leads back to a back section of the house. Then the next set of stairs lead you to the second floor rooms. Our room, The Louis XVI room was a warm floral room that wasn’t too over powering for a man to stay in. It has a king size bed with a draping half canopy. The walls are done in a white and blue stripe and it has a shared bath in yellow and blue. We were the only ones staying the night so we had the bath to ourselves.

Landing Sitting Area between the First and Second Floor

Louis XVI

Louis XVI

Louis XVI

From here Mrs. Roy walked us through to the next room that would have shared out bath, the Renaissance room. This is a very masculine room done in burgundy, browns and black. It is filled with a horse equestrian decor. The bed, the only full size bed in La Villa is a wood craved bed with a crown drape. The headboard had an egg carving in it. I wasn’t sure, but maybe it could have been a Thomas Brooks bed. Thomas Brooks was known for his egg carving accents on his beds. Either way, it was very impressive! If it had been a king or queen bed, I could have easily stayed in that room! Now here is something I have never seen and was really impressive. La Villa has decorated everything, including the inside of the closet spaces! Talk about attention to detail!




Renaissance – Thomas Brooks bed? See the Egg Craving

Renaissance – Closet

Mrs. Roy then walked us over to the Louis XV room with its deep pink walls and plaster accents on the walls. The bed, a king was draped with a beautiful pink crown. We then moved to the last room, the Provence room through the shared bath with the Louis XV room. This room is done in a floral and has a day bed added for additional guests. The king size bed is also draped with a beautiful crown. I was really impressed to learn that Mrs. Roy made all the curtains and draping in the house!

Louis XV

Louis XV

Bathroom between Louis XV and Provence



The main hall of the second floor is an inviting space with places to sit and read or to hold quiet conversations. Mrs. Roy pointed out the third floors above us and told us that they were two studies and a small tack room with her equestrian items. But we didn’t venture up there next. We headed back downstairs to the first floor. Here Mrs. Roy walked us through the main parlor with all her families’ French antiques. I have to say, it was mind blowing! I would love to have just a third of what she has for Belle Grove, but I don’t think it would match the style home it is. But what a great space to drool over!

Main Hall on the Second Floor

Formal Parlor

Formal Parlor

Formal Parlor

Mrs. Roy walked us across the main hall to the library next. As we walked across the floor, I took notice of the wood floor and its inlay patterns. Again, great attention to detail! You can tell the builder and first owner made sure it was to impress. The library was beautiful! It was down in a burgundy with antiques and books. The two most impressive antiques were two chairs from her family’s collection. One date to the 1400s and one from the 1500s. And here we think we are doing well with a home from the 1700s! “Oh wow!”

Wood Inlay Pattern


Library – The chair is from the 1500s

Library – The chair is from the 1400s!


Then we walked into the dining room which is filled with more antiques and china. It was so hard to take it all in! There was just so much to see! Then she led us back to the kitchen through a small butler’s pantry. The kitchen is a cozy space which can be more informal. It would be easily the gathering place for friends and family as the chef of the house whips up a gourmet meal for a few. At the back of the room was the old kitchen fireplace hearth. It was large as you would expect and gives that room that antique feel.

Formal Dining Room


Ktichen – Fireplace

Mrs. Roy then walked us to the day room just behind the formal parlor. This room was filled with Asian antiques and art from her family. Mrs. Roy explained that this room gets the morning sun and is a delight to enjoy your morning newspaper in. I don’t know, I think I would have a hard time reading the current news with such things to be studied around me! I didn’t ask the age of the items, but one would think with the collection this family has assembled over the years; there could easily have been items from the Ming Dynasty!

Day Room

Day Room

After looking around and taking in all we could in one viewing, our growling stomachs reminded us that we needed to head out to dinner and the Arts of Petersburg. We asked for a suggestion of places to eat and Mrs. Roy directed us to the Old Towne District with its abundant food and wide range of cuisines. We chose to head to a little Italian cafe, Maria’s Cafe on West Old Street. As we parked in the public parking lot just a block away, we could hear live music from the outdoor cafe area of Andrades. This restaurant features South American cuisine. Just next door to this is the Brickhouse Run, a British style pub where we were later told we should stop and try the Bangers and Mash. Across the street from Andrades was Wabi Sabi which we were told was a great place for sushi.

Before we hit Maria’s Cafe, we stopped at the Oaks Antique Mall to see my new friend, Robert the antique dealer. He had told us that he would be there working his booth for the Friday for the Arts. There we found him walking around in his tux tails serving a tray of cookies to the guest as they browsed the antiques. Talk about impressive service! I introduced him to Brett and we set an appointment for 11am the next morning to meet and see his home. Here we found out that he was just two doors down from La Villa! What a great bonus!

The Oaks Antique Mall – Robert

So off we went to Maria’s Cafe. I have to tell you as we turned the corner heading down to the opposite side of the block to Maria’s the aroma of the Italian food met us. I think we must have floated down that last block by our noses! Maria’s Cafe has a small outdoor cafe area and a wonderful sitting restaurant inside. As we came in, we were greeted again by the contemporary music of a solo artist. He had a wonderful deep and rich voice that wasn’t over powering and just right for a quiet meal between the two of us. Brett enjoyed Spaghetti with a Mushroom Marinara Sauce to which he added Meatballs. Brett is just a classic eater when it comes to Italian. I had the Chicken Piccata with Mushrooms and Capers and a Wine and Lemon Sauce. It was a wonderful meal and great customer service.

Maria’s Cafe

At this point, we were starting to drag a bit from our long day at work, so instead of dancing the night away at the outdoor cafe at Andrades, we headed back to La Villa Romaine for a restful night’s sleep. Brett was out like a light as soon as we hit the bed, but I needed to unwind, so I picked up a Petersburg guide that Mrs. Roy had in the room. As I started looking through the guide, I realized that there was so much more to Petersburg that I didn’t know.

Did you know that Petersburg was a main transport and shipping area for the new colonies? They had the Appomattox River for shipping and later the rail system. It was because of the rail system that Petersburg became an important area for the Union Army to hold during the Civil War. By cutting off the rail system in Petersburg, Richmond would be isolated and not be able to receive badly needed supplies. General Lee spent his last days of the War here trying to defend it. It would be just shortly after the fall of Petersburg that General Lee would surrender in Appomattox.

Did you know that the Battle of the Crater occurred here? If you saw the movie, Cold Mountain, they used this battle as part of the movie. It is where the Union Army dug a mine and filled it with explosives to blow a hole in the defense line of the Confederate Army. But sadly it did not have an affect the Union had hoped for. Instead, it resulted in more casualties for the Union forces (3798) than for the Confederate forces (1491). General Lee would call it “the saddest affair I have witnessed in the war.”

There were also several plantations in the area I wasn’t aware of. One in caught my eye, Weston Plantation in Hopewell, Virginia. I looked up the location and realized it was just a short drive from where we were. Maybe we would go see this plantation tomorrow on the way home was my thought. Finally I started getting sleepy so I shut off the light and drifted off to a quiet sleep. This house is very sound proof and we couldn’t even here the street noise from passing cars. It was a great way to fall asleep.

Around 4:30am I woke up and walked to our restroom. I turned the light, so by the time I laid back down; I know I was fully awake again. I cuddled back into my wonderful bed and drew the blanket up. As soon as I did, I heard what at first sounded like a deep bass from a radio in the distance. You know the kind you hear as you are sitting at a traffic light from someone’s car. I listened a little more. I realized quickly it was a deep bass sound. It was like footsteps. It sounded like a heavy boot walking along the hallway at a distance. It would walk a few steps, then stop and then walk some more. Then only thing was that it was getting louder with each step. It would walk a few more steps, stop and then walk again. Finally, I could hear it very clearly. It was a really hard boot sound. Someone that was heavy and walked hard. The next thing I knew, I could hear it in the room. It was walking up alongside my bed! I knew it because beside the bed is a small table with a marble top. On top of this table is a lamp and small picture frame. As it walked along my side of the bed, I not only heard the steps, but I could hear the frame and lamp rattle on the table from the steps vibrating the floor and table! All of a sudden I gasped and pulled the blanket up over my face. I didn’t want to see! It stopped. I quickly rolled over and asked Brett if he had heard it. Of course, he had slept through it as always. Sometimes I think a freight train could run through our bedroom and he wouldn’t hear it. So I turned on the light and looked around. Not a sound. After a few minutes, I turned off the light and settle back down. No sound. It was quiet for the rest of the night.

Now I don’t think this “visitor” was something to fear. I think it was more or less checking on me. I thought about it as I tried to go back to sleep. The first thought was that maybe this house had served as a hospital for the Civil War and it was a soldier that was walking around checking on things. It would make sense since the sound was boot like. So when I got up that morning, I met Mrs. Roy in the kitchen. We discussed my experience. She told me that the house was not used as a hospital, but General Ambrose Burnside had stayed there. Maybe it was General Burnside who was checking on us. Who knows, but it was an experience.

General Ambrose Burnside

We really enjoyed our stay at La Villa Romaine Bed and Breakfast…, in spite of the early morning visitor with heavy boots. If you should find yourself in the area of Petersburg or Richmond, Virginia, we highly recommend staying there for a night, or a couple nights.

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 24 Comments »


May. 13th 2012

When we started looking at opening a bed and breakfast, one of the first things we did was to find bed and breakfast homes like we might want. The first place we went was in my home state of South Carolina. Mansfield Plantation Bed and Breakfast is located in Georgetown, South Carolina about 30 minutes from Myrtle Beach. According to their website, www.mansfieldplantation.com, the plantation was a land grant in 1718 for 500 acres. The main house was built in 1768. Mansfield Plantation was one of the largest rice plantations in South Carolina. Mansfield Plantation now covers almost 1,000 acres and is considered to be “one of the most architecturally intact rice plantations in South Carolina.”

Mansfield Plantation Main House

On entering the plantation, you drive down a long dirt road that is surrounded by trees and fields. Then you come to the main gate of the plantation. It is warm and welcoming with its vine covered towers and soft lights glowing in the distance.

As you come into the main section of the plantation the first thing that strikes you are the tall old oak trees with Spanish moss hanging over head.

Mansfield Plantation – Oak Trees with Spainish Moss

Below these trees are the old slave quarters and chapel. At the end of these trees you come to the main house. To your left you can see a small brick house which is the school house. Just behind it is the North Guest House. To the right is the Old Kitchen House.  They use each of these buildings as the guest rooms. There are no guest rooms in the main house. Inside the main house you can see two small adjoining parlors as you pass into the formal dining room. As we passed through, the innkeeper showed us a table that George Washington sat at when he came to visit this plantation.

Mansfield Plantation – School House

Mansfield Plantation – North Guest House

Mansfield Plantation – Old Kitchen House – Our room was on the right

We stayed twice at Mansfield, first in the North Guest House in the Man Room. It was beautiful and very well decorated. We were very comfortable. The second visit was a year later. We stayed this time in the Old Kitchen House in the Izard Room. This room was just as comfortable and well decorated. But this room had a little surprise for us. (well mainly me) We stayed for four nights on this visit. The first night we arrived late and headed to bed shortly after we arrived. For some reason I wasn’t able to sleep and stayed up late into the night. Around 3am, I finally started to feel sleepy and I turned the television off and pulled the sheets up over my shoulders. A few minutes later, I felt something pull the sheet down off my shoulder. I didn’t move. I waited to see if anything else would happen. And it did. A minute or two later, I felt it pull down again, this time a little more pronounced. I just pulled up the sheet and went to sleep hoping it wouldn’t happen again.

The following night, I again had a hard time going to sleep. It was again around 3am before I started to get tired. So I turned off the television and rolled over with the sheets pulled up again. I have to admit, I was waiting for something to happen. I wasn’t disappointed. But it wasn’t the sheet this time. This time, I felt something tap me on the calf of my leg. It wasn’t a slap. Just a tap as if someone was trying to get my attention. I moved my leg and tried to go to sleep. But it happened again. Finally I said in a soft voice so I didn’t wake my husband, “Please stop.” It did.

The next night, we were returning from our dinner out when I crossed the room to the television to turn it on. My husband stepped into the restroom as I flicked the channels. The television was on a chest next to the closet door. As I flicked channels, I heard the closet door rattle. I looked at it and it was moving and the door knob was jiggling. I took a step back and it stopped. I reached over an opened the door and there was nothing there. Now this Old Kitchen was divided into two rooms and you could go from one room to the other through the closet. So I figured we have had guests arrive since we were gone (no one had been there the days before) and that they had opened their closet door and caused ours to rattle.

The next morning at breakfast in the main house, I asked the innkeeper if we had guests arrive in the room next door. She told us no other guests had checked into that room. My eyes must have gotten a little wide because she quickly smiled and asked if we were having things happen. I smiled and said yes. She then told us that they had had things happen in that room and that they thought that a ghost of a little girl was in there. One of the previous guests had told her about waking one morning to see a little girl standing beside her bed. This guest had said that the little girl smiled and said, “Good Morning Madame.” and turned and walked through the closet door. That last night I asked whoever was in the room if they would leave me alone and let me sleep because I had started to get sick and wasn’t feeling well. As I started to go to sleep I rolled over to one side and the pain from the bronchitis caused me to cry out in a soft voice. Seconds later, I felt a hand come down on my shoulder and arm as if to comfort me. I smiled and drifted off to sleep.

Besides our ghostly visitor, we had a chance on our second visit to see the slave quarter and chapel up close. Most of them are slowly deteriorating, but the plantation owners have already started to restore and preserve them. The chapel was the only building that had been completed at that time. We were able to go inside and sit on the benches and image what it would have been like during earlier times. We both feel that it is very important to preserve these buildings for future generations to see up close and personal how others lived. We can read about history in a book, but until you see it in personal, it doesn’t seem real. At the plantation we will be opening as a B&B in Virginia, we also have three outbuildings dating back to the 1790s. They have gone pretty much unchanged during these years, but at this point are in bad need of restoration. This is one of the projects we want to tackle soon after we open.

Mansfield Plantation – Slave Quarter

Mansfield Plantation – Slave Quarter

One more piece of information about this plantation that drew us there. It was used in the movie “The Patriot” with Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger. It was so much fun to walk around and see areas that they used and know that we had walked where they had. Our daughter, who wasn’t with us, was very jealous.

Mansfield Plantation – View from the front door – In “The Patriot” – you can see Heath’s character storm out and leave to rejoin the war.

Mansfield Plantation – Fountain

But after leaving, we had formed our dream that one day; we too might be able to have such a place with its quiet setting, beautiful waterways and land, historic past and genteel hospitality. Ghosts are optional.

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 10 Comments »