Barnsley Gardens Resort: A Southern Gothic Love Story
There’s an eerie air to the ruins at Barnsley Gardens Resort at night.
Dim light guides our way through the maze of English boxwoods in the formal garden. The wind rushes through ancient imported trees. The imposing frame of the once-stunning Italian-style manor looms before us. And then there’s the estate’s 165-year history, which begins with a love story as tragic as anything Shakespeare ever concocted.
As told by resident historian and museum director Clent Coker, the Barnsley saga is a Southern epic practically begging for Hollywood adaptation. In the 1840s, English cotton baron Godfrey Barnsley purchased 8,000 acres of former Cherokee land in Bartow County (40 minutes north of metro Atlanta, in the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains), on which he planned to build a magnificent estate for his beloved wife.