Behind Barnsley Gardens Resort's storybook setting is a true story filled with as many twists and turns as a work of fiction. The original manor, called Woodlands, was an estate built by a man—Godfrey Barnsley—for the love of his life, his wife Julia. Godfrey Barnsley began construction on his Italianate villa in the 1840's in the north Georgia foothills, on land that had once been inhabited by the Cherokee Indians. Both the home and its elaborate gardens were formed by the work of Andrew Jackson Downing, a pioneering landscape designer and proponent of Italianate and gothic revival architecture. Julia never saw the completed home, as she fell ill and passed away. Through the years, the estate has witnessed much history and intrigue, including the Civil War. Today, it emerges as an award-winning destination resort, welcoming guests into a uniquely historic landscape that still echoes with the vision of Godfrey Barnsley.
Below are some historical highlights. To learn more, visit the Barnsley Museum, which is open daily. There you will hear fascinating stories of love, loss and even murder compiled by Barnsley's Historian and Museum Director, Clent Coker.
To visit Clent Coker's personal website Click Here
- 1824 Godfrey Barnsley comes to America from Liverpool, England. He becomes one of the 10 most affluent men in the South through the shipping business and cotton trade.
- 1828 Barnsley weds Julia Scarborough of Savannah.
- 1840s Barnsley purchases some 4,000 acres of Northwest Georgia land to build Julia a grand mansion.
- 1845 Sadly, Julia, mother of six, dies of a lung ailment and Barnsley ceases construction of the estate.
- 1846 Barnsley returns to the estate and Julia's spirit appears to him in the formal garden, instructing him to finish the estate for their children and future generations.
- 1848 The estate and gardens of Woodlands are eventually completed, with gardens modeled after the architectural designs of Andrew Jackson Downing, and a luxurious manor house featuring modern plumbing, marble from Italy and France, and furnishings from around the world.
- 1861-1865 The Civil War rages. Situated directly in the path of Sherman's advance, the estate witnesses a battle on May 18, 1864 and suffers irreparably during occupation of troops commanded by U.S. Gen. James McPherson.
- 1906 A tornado damages the home, tearing away the roof.
- 1906-1942 Descendants of Godfrey and Julia occupy the estate until it is auctioned in 1942. The gardens and manor house fall into disrepair.
- 1988 Prince Hubertus Fugger purchases the estate, reviving and expanding the Historic Gardens so that more than 200 varieties of roses thrive. The remains of the Manor House Ruins are restored and Barnsley Gardens Resort is born.
- 1991 Barnsley Gardens opens to the public as a historical gardens and museum.
- Today Barnsley is a new kind of resort destination, with luxurious cottages, world-class amenities, attentive service and serenity. Amenities include an 18-hole championship golf course, award-winning spa, horseback riding, sporting clays course, hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, paintball, meeting venues, team building activities and a variety of other recreation choices through our Springbank Sporting Center.