The plantations of the Deep South are one of America’s greatest bitter-sweet heritage sights. They juxtapose in vivid real life the co-existence of the languid Hollywood elegance of Gone With The Wind with the unspeakable cruelties exposed more recently in 12 Years A Slave.
Drive out of historic Charleston in South Carolina and in every direction can still be found avenues of ‘live oaks’, twisted branches draped in the wispy cotton-wool of Spanish moss, leading to fading grand houses. There, under their shady, pillared and pedimented porticos, the old Southern aristocracy grew rich and complacent on fortunes made from rice, cotton and the sweat of their slaves.
Today, many are open to the public, testimony to the parallel racial histories of the US that still persist in different more modern forms today; that and their distinctly English roots. They are not to be missed.
Telling different stories: Drayton Hall is a 1738 square-built brick house that was designed from a style-book brought over from England
The McLeod Plantation is closest to the city of Charleston and has done more than any to tell the true story of the Gullah Geechee people – the West African creoles who plucked the Sea Island cotton, which often grew 7ft tall…