One beautiful morning after having breakfast in Toast we called an Uber & the four of us, very excited, headed to Middleton Plantation, we’re going to witness how a plantation which grew the Carolina Golden rice was & how they lived then.
Upton arrival we bought the tickets for $42, the only think not included was the ride on a carriage pulled by horses.
Straight after we arrived the beauty of the trees blew us away. We got access through a corridor where we met a lovely chap from Kentucky with a John Wayne’s accent who told us where to go.
We’re able to admire the beautiful & oldest landscape gardens in the USA, inspired by Versailles & its geometry. I’d love to see them in March when the camellias blossom, I bet is an amazing sight.
We made our way to the main house for a 45 minute tour where they’re going to tell us about the history of the Middleton family. Pictures are not allowed.
The plantation still belongs to the same family, we were lucky to see one of its members. The narrator told us all about their ancestors from Henry Middleton, who arrived to the plantation through the marriage with Mary Williams in 1741. In the house we could see the collection of furniture, china, silver, books & documents belonging to the family.
One of the Middleton wives, the Countess Paolina, draw the property just before the Civil War destroyed it & the Union troops finished with what was left. Some of the possessions were buried for their safe keeping.
The ruins of the north wing, were the main house used to be, are still there. In front of it we can admire the magnificent gardens.
We’re so enthusiastic with the wonderful, giant & majestic oak trees decorated with Spanish moss that are plentiful in the property. I couldn’t get tired of looking at them.
The old chapel was built on a stream, the reason is that underneath the kept the dairy cool.
The stream would flow into a lake that took us to the mill.
From there we could see what used to be the golden rice fields that made this state so rich.
In the opposite direction from the main house there’s Eliza’s House, where the tour “Beyond the fields” started. It’s about the life & the work of the slaves in the plantation, a completely different vision.
Eliza was the last inhabitant of this house, she died in 1986 at 94. It’s believed that Ned & Chloe lived in it as slaves & as freedmen after the war.
On documents Ned appears as the care taker of the plantation when they owners were away. After the abolition of slavery many came back as workers because that was the only place the knew & many didn’t know where they could go. They were key factors to recover the “dear old place”, as they called it.
The Middleton’s had nineteen plantations & in a period of 187 owed 3.500 slaves, this is a list of them.
We saw where they kept the tools & utensils & how the blacksmith worked.
We also visited the stables, where we met this adorable massive horse we could hug. They told us they rescue them, they are work horses therefore they have to work or they get restless, they never do when it’s too hot & only for a maximum of hours a day. They really look after them to be honest.
We also saw where they made fabrics dyed with indigo, a local flower that grows in the property.
In another part of the working area we saw where they made pottery, candles, soap … they were self-sufficient.
What they couldn’t make was brought by boat by the Ashley River, one of the two most important ones in Charleston. The plantation was located so through the river it could be supplied & rice delivered.
Nowadays the place belongs to the Middleton Foundation, which took care of restoring & preserving such a beautiful place. It also has an Inn with fifty four rooms that cannot be seen from the main house, as it is hidden by the trees, an ideal place to disconnect from the world.
What a better way to disconnect than a book, in this occasion I have chosen the ideal one for this trip, an American classic, “Uncle Tom’s cabin” by the abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe. A moving story which won’t leave you impassible. On one hand she introduces us to Eliza, her husband & son, their lives & escape to Canada. On the other, the life of Tom, how he is sold & separated from his family, how he meets young Eve, his strong faith in God, how he is sold again & beaten to death not before encouraging & helping two women to escape in the search of freedom. He becomes a martyr & he’s remembered by all the slaves George Shelby will free in his honor, his cabin becomes a symbol of sacrifice & pious life.
A story of how slaves live & feel & how they are chased by mean men when they decide to escape. A story also about owners who sell them & beat them & others who help them & free them. The author attacks the Fugitive Slave Act & her intention is to show slavery as evil, presenting at the same time kind characters. A masterpiece.