When we started looking at opening a bed and breakfast, one of the first things we did was to find bed and breakfast homes like we might want. The first place we went was in my home state of South Carolina. Mansfield Plantation Bed and Breakfast is located in Georgetown, South Carolina about 30 minutes from Myrtle Beach. According to their website, www.mansfieldplantation.com, the plantation was a land grant in 1718 for 500 acres. The main house was built in 1768. Mansfield Plantation was one of the largest rice plantations in South Carolina. Mansfield Plantation now covers almost 1,000 acres and is considered to be “one of the most architecturally intact rice plantations in South Carolina.”
On entering the plantation, you drive down a long dirt road that is surrounded by trees and fields. Then you come to the main gate of the plantation. It is warm and welcoming with its vine covered towers and soft lights glowing in the distance.
As you come into the main section of the plantation the first thing that strikes you are the tall old oak trees with Spanish moss hanging over head.
Below these trees are the old slave quarters and chapel. At the end of these trees you come to the main house. To your left you can see a small brick house which is the school house. Just behind it is the North Guest House. To the right is the Old Kitchen House. They use each of these buildings as the guest rooms. There are no guest rooms in the main house. Inside the main house you can see two small adjoining parlors as you pass into the formal dining room. As we passed through, the innkeeper showed us a table that George Washington sat at when he came to visit this plantation.
We stayed twice at Mansfield, first in the North Guest House in the Man Room. It was beautiful and very well decorated. We were very comfortable. The second visit was a year later. We stayed this time in the Old Kitchen House in the Izard Room. This room was just as comfortable and well decorated. But this room had a little surprise for us. (well mainly me) We stayed for four nights on this visit. The first night we arrived late and headed to bed shortly after we arrived. For some reason I wasn’t able to sleep and stayed up late into the night. Around 3am, I finally started to feel sleepy and I turned the television off and pulled the sheets up over my shoulders. A few minutes later, I felt something pull the sheet down off my shoulder. I didn’t move. I waited to see if anything else would happen. And it did. A minute or two later, I felt it pull down again, this time a little more pronounced. I just pulled up the sheet and went to sleep hoping it wouldn’t happen again.
The following night, I again had a hard time going to sleep. It was again around 3am before I started to get tired. So I turned off the television and rolled over with the sheets pulled up again. I have to admit, I was waiting for something to happen. I wasn’t disappointed. But it wasn’t the sheet this time. This time, I felt something tap me on the calf of my leg. It wasn’t a slap. Just a tap as if someone was trying to get my attention. I moved my leg and tried to go to sleep. But it happened again. Finally I said in a soft voice so I didn’t wake my husband, “Please stop.” It did.
The next night, we were returning from our dinner out when I crossed the room to the television to turn it on. My husband stepped into the restroom as I flicked the channels. The television was on a chest next to the closet door. As I flicked channels, I heard the closet door rattle. I looked at it and it was moving and the door knob was jiggling. I took a step back and it stopped. I reached over an opened the door and there was nothing there. Now this Old Kitchen was divided into two rooms and you could go from one room to the other through the closet. So I figured we have had guests arrive since we were gone (no one had been there the days before) and that they had opened their closet door and caused ours to rattle.
The next morning at breakfast in the main house, I asked the innkeeper if we had guests arrive in the room next door. She told us no other guests had checked into that room. My eyes must have gotten a little wide because she quickly smiled and asked if we were having things happen. I smiled and said yes. She then told us that they had had things happen in that room and that they thought that a ghost of a little girl was in there. One of the previous guests had told her about waking one morning to see a little girl standing beside her bed. This guest had said that the little girl smiled and said, “Good Morning Madame.” and turned and walked through the closet door. That last night I asked whoever was in the room if they would leave me alone and let me sleep because I had started to get sick and wasn’t feeling well. As I started to go to sleep I rolled over to one side and the pain from the bronchitis caused me to cry out in a soft voice. Seconds later, I felt a hand come down on my shoulder and arm as if to comfort me. I smiled and drifted off to sleep.
Besides our ghostly visitor, we had a chance on our second visit to see the slave quarter and chapel up close. Most of them are slowly deteriorating, but the plantation owners have already started to restore and preserve them. The chapel was the only building that had been completed at that time. We were able to go inside and sit on the benches and image what it would have been like during earlier times. We both feel that it is very important to preserve these buildings for future generations to see up close and personal how others lived. We can read about history in a book, but until you see it in personal, it doesn’t seem real. At the plantation we will be opening as a B&B in Virginia, we also have three outbuildings dating back to the 1790s. They have gone pretty much unchanged during these years, but at this point are in bad need of restoration. This is one of the projects we want to tackle soon after we open.
One more piece of information about this plantation that drew us there. It was used in the movie “The Patriot” with Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger. It was so much fun to walk around and see areas that they used and know that we had walked where they had. Our daughter, who wasn’t with us, was very jealous.
But after leaving, we had formed our dream that one day; we too might be able to have such a place with its quiet setting, beautiful waterways and land, historic past and genteel hospitality. Ghosts are optional.