Club Trip to Barnsley Gardens

May, 2011

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, welcoming guests into a uniquely historic landscape that still echoes with the vision of Godfrey Barnsley.

Below are some historical highlights.


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.

Barnsley Resort is a new kind of resort destination, with luxurious cottages, world-class amenities, attentive service and serenity.

See you next time!

Paula Vopelak - Vice President

Members on Trip

Linda and Norman Penfield

Paula and Russ Vopelak

Wheaton Cave

Thomas Boyland

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