"Visit Barnsley and take a step into a real-life fairytale." - TravelChannel.com
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 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 inspired 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 in Georgia, 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 Resort's Historian and Museum Director, Clent Coker.
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, and a luxurious manor house featuring modern plumbing, marble from Italy and France, and furnishings from around the world.
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.
A tornado damages the home, tearing away the roof.
Descendants of Godfrey and Julia occupy the estate until it is auctioned in 1942. The gardens and manor house fall into disrepair.
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.
Barnsley Gardens opens to the public as a historical gardens 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 The 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 also grow to include wing shooting (quail hunting, pheasant releases and more) with the addition of SpringBank Plantation
Plans are announced for a new 55-room Inn at Barnsley Resort
as well as Georgian Hall
, soon to be the region's preferred venue for meetings, weddings and other special events. The Inn is scheduled to open by the end of 2017, with Georgian Hall anticipated in early 2018.