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Our Story

North Georgia foothills History, romance and outdoor adventure

Barnsley Resort is a place that—literally—wears its heart on its sleeve. Godfrey Barnsley poured his heart and soul into this grand, Southern estate; a gift for his beloved bride two centuries ago. Today our Southern traditions and storybook setting seduce travelers from near and far for family vacations, romantic getaways, golf getaways, corporate meetings and sparkling events. If you crave a connection to an outdoor lifestyle, nature and history, then we invite you to escape together to our Georgia resort.

history in the makingbarnsley resort historic timeline

A Rich Celebrated History

Behind Barnsley 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 Godfrey Barnsley for his beloved wife, Julia. Godfrey Barnsley began construction on his Italianate villa in the 1840s in the North Georgia foothills. Unfortunately, however, Julia passed away before the home was completed. Both the home and its elaborate gardens were inspired by the work of Andrew Jackson Downing, a pioneering landscape designer and proponent of Italianate and gothic revival architecture.

Following please find some of the historical highlights of Barnsley Resort.


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.

Barnsley weds Julia Scarborough of Savannah.

Barnsley purchases some 4,000 acres of Northwest Georgia land to build Julia a grand mansion.

Sadly, Julia, mother of six, dies of a lung ailment and Barnsley ceases construction of the estate.

Barnsley returns to the estate. While there, he dreams of Julia visiting him in the formal garden. In the dream, she instructs him to finish the estate for their children and future generations.

The estate and gardens of Woodlands are eventually completed, with gardens modeled after the architectural designs of Andrew Jackson Downing. A luxurious manor house features modern plumbing, marble from Italy and France, and furnishings from around the world.

A tornado damages the home, tearing away the roof. Rather than replace the roof on the Manor House, the Barnsley family descendants move into the kitchen building.

Godfrey and Julia’s great-grandson Preston Saylor becomes a prize fighter, adopting the name “K.O. (Knockout) Dugan,” entering more than 125 fights.

Preston Saylor (K.O. Dugan) is sentenced to prison after shooting his brother, Harry Saylor, to death after a dispute over the financial affairs of the estate.

The remnants of the estate are sold at auction, transferring the property out of the Barnsley family.

The estate, now encompassing just 1200 acres, is sold again to become a cattle and poultry farm. The new owners eventually lock off the historic areas of the property.

The estate falls into ruin allowing dense vegetation to overtake the formal gardens and remnants of the original Manor House for almost 40 years.

Prince Hubertus Fugger of Bavaria 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.

Noted Horticulturist Steven Wheaton is hired to restore and resurrect as much of the original gardens as possible.

Barnsley Gardens opens to the public as a historical garden and museum available for day visitors.

Barnsley Resort opens, offering a charming English-inspired village setting influenced by the works of Andrew Jackson Downing. In addition to luxurious guest cottages, the experience is enhanced by a Jim Fazio-designed golf course, world-class amenities such as The Spa at Barnsley Resort, regionally inspired dining in Woodlands Grill and Rice House, and diverse outdoor activities such as horseback riding, sporting clays and hiking.

Prince Fugger sells the resort to a private family from North Georgia.

The resort’s offerings are expanded to include the addition of four large multi-bedroom Estate Cottages, ideal for corporate groups, multi-generational family travel, friends’ getaways and wedding parties. Activity offerings are expanded to include wingshooting with the acquisition of prime North Georgia quail habitat, now known as the Beretta Shooting Grounds by High Adventure Company.

Ground is broken for a 55-room Inn at Barnsley Resort and Georgian Hall, a new venue for meetings and special events. 

The Inn at Barnsley Resort and Georgian Hall open in March 2018, bringing the resort's total number of accommodations to 150 guest rooms and suites. Georgian Hall expands the resort's meetings and events venues with the 5,000-square-foot Savannah Ballroom and additional indoor and outdoor gathering space.