Four Star review, originally posted here on June 5, 2014.
We thoroughly enjoyed our tour of Drayton Hall. I have toured a lot of colonial plantation homes in Virginia, where the homes are full of furniture and reenactors, so it was a nice change of pace (not better per say, but different) to tour just the bare bones and let the history speak for itself. Our tour guide was wonderful and informative and really brought the place to life. The African-American history lecture was alright, but honestly I think I was hoping to hear just a little more about the specific people who lived on this particular plantation. Still, I was glad to hear an entire lecture of a woman saying over and over again (in more civil words) “No, really, slavery was seriously, seriously messed up, and it happened right where we are sitting, and it was messed up, and everyone died, and it was a HUGE part of this place, and it was messed up and horrible beyond belief.” I was curious to see how slavery would be addressed, and expected it to be just kinda mentioned in passed and swept under the rug, so having a whole program was a good call. Along the same lines, by far the most impressive aspect of our visit was stopping by the African American cemetery. Standing there in the woods, knowing that all those people laying there had suffered, but now had a safe and revered place to rest and finally be respected, was a really sobering feeling. On a more lighthearted note, the grounds were simple, beautiful, and peaceful. You’re free to roam around as much as you want, and when we went it wasn’t crowded at all, so we got a chance to rest alone by the pond for a while and watch a heron fishing. I regret not having the time to squeeze in the video tour, since I think it included a lot of oral history from lots of different people involved with different aspects of the home, but I guess it will have to wait until next time.
So overall a peaceful, factual, respectful tour for history lovers who want to leave the gimmicks behind. Highly recommend.