By Charlene & Richard Mixa
A Magical English Village Resort in the Georgia
Hidden in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia is a mystical wonderland, where a Fairy Godmother makes wishes and dreams come true. Where a Prince saves a legendary estate and with a magical touch creates an enchanting English Village. Travel with us for a dreamlike visit to the fairytale retreat of Barnsley Gardens Resort, just an hour north of Atlanta.
Cozy English-style cottages, with individual gardens, a tree-lined pathway border a magnificently manicured central lawn creating a peaceful and endearing retreat. Reminiscent of a 19th century English Village, front porches with rockers and swings encourage relaxation or partaking in a game of croquet. Each unique winsome cottage is luxuriously appointed with a mix of old-world charm and modern conveniences. Our one bedroom cottage is a delightful respite, carefully decorated with handpicked reproductions and traditional estate items. In a warm country style décor with white wainscoting is a comfy cozy living room and dining area. Extra touches are the built-in shelves, fireplace, TV and a wet bar with a mini-refrigerator. A true “Bath Room” featuring an pristine white pedestal sink, an old-fashioned claw foot soaking tub, and a glass shower with views of flowering gardens and a small porch at the back of the cottage. The Fairy Godmother has stopped in leaving a “whimsical gift” for an exquisite visit. Dreamy nights are assured in the alluring bedroom with plush crisp Egyptian cotton linens on the elegant four-poster king bed. Each evening sprites carefully place a sleeping potion of Lavender Mint Temple Balm on our bed. The Barnsley Spa’s seductive blend promotes restfulness and relaxation.
Love, loss, murder, devastation, and the saving touch of a prince form the romantic, tragic and compelling saga of Barnsley Gardens Resort. Clint Coker, author of the book on Barnsley and historian of the Barnsley family, takes us on an intriguing tour of the resort while sharing its spellbinding history. As a youngster, Clint was enthralled with the family and Woodlands (the original name). This captivating tale touches elements of the Cherokee Indian nation, the devastating War Between the States, the turbulent days of Southern reconstruction, the raw hunger of the 1930’s Great Depression and a family feud that leads to one brother killing the other.
Godfrey Barnsley, a successful business from England, purchased the acreage for a summer retreat for his beloved wife, Julia. Using the Andrew Jackson Downing’s concept of symmetrical designs in the gardens, walkways and cottages, Barnsley built a renowned Manor home that was known as one of the best in the south. Plants were brought from all over the world for the gardens. After Julia’s early death, the Civil War, and years of challenges the illustrious estate fell into disrepair. In fairytale style a prince saves the day! Prince Hubertus Fugger Babenhausen of Augsberg, Germany buys the dilapidated Woodlands in 1989. Restoring the ruins, reviving the gardens, and enhancing the property, Prince Fugger brought the land back to life transforming it into a world-class resort. Strolling the refurbished gardens, the museum with its collection of family memorabilia, and roaming the romantic brick ruins of the Manor house, we are easily immersed into the depths of the love and tragic losses the Barnsley family and estate endured.
Enticing leisure interests are plentiful at Barnsley Gardens from the entrancing restful treatments at the Full Service European-style Spa to the thrill of outdoor challenges. Guest can choose from a spectrum of activities including golf, hiking, biking, horseback riding, paintball, sporting clays, fly fishing, seasonal hunting and team building. Challenging ourselves to the Jim Fazio-designed championship golf course provides a fun and exciting afternoon.
Nestled in the foothills, “The General” has been featured in Golf Magazine’s Premier Resort for 2010 and was named one of the Top 125 Golf Courses by Conde Nast. With a stunning design of major dogleg holes, a variety of hazards on the hilly terrain, we find a beguiling course with emerald green fairways and dazzling greens. Course management is a must and careful decisions are necessary for playing each hole. A few holes and especially Par-3’s have the ultimate elevation challenge from tee boxes high above the large greens. Awesome, we’re thrilled with pars! Alas! Did the Resort’s Fairy Godmother gently guide our balls to the greens or maybe it’s the “Good Witch” of golf? We’ll never know. Rolling fairways add an extra twist from elevated tee boxes to a downhill fairway on the drive and the second shot to the uphill fairway and elevated green. Playing the course we enjoy the spectacular vistas of the mountains and the charmed estate. Golfers of any skill level will enjoy an inspiring round of golf at “The General.”
With its quaint magical village setting the majority of activities are all within a short stroll. Walking to the Woodlands Grill for our meals is a pleasant walk along the pathway bordering the central lawn. We are easily distracted stopping to admire an endearing cottage design, a unique garden feature, or a huge blossoming tree. The rustic Woodlands Grill sits at the end of the walkways and serves as the social hub for the Barnsley Gardens Resort. Serving a full breakfast each morning, lunch and exquisite dinner each evening, late night fun is found at the Dugan’s Tavern. Dining on the large screened porch we have fantastic views of the golf course and the Georgia foothills.
Our gourmet dinners are tantalizing. A favorite entrée is the Blackened Red Fish over Southern creamed rice. Absolutely delicious! Another delectable dish is the Diver Scallop Schnitzel with Asian slaw and lemon caper sauce. Scallops prepared as a schnitzel! To celebrate our enchanting visit we treat ourselves to a decadent Peach Crisp ala Mode. The service is excellent with an efficient wait staff attuned to our needs and beautifully presenting our dinners. Walking back to our cottage, we spot the corn bag toss game on the lawn. Can’t pass it up! It’s just a “friendly” game between husband and wife. Afterwards we stroll this mystical fairytale village before retreating to our lovely storybook cottage.
Tranquil gardens, an old fashioned village, and cozy cottages all provide a peaceful respite from the outside world – a place to play, unwind and dream. Barnsley Gardens Resort offers a storybook romantic setting with incomparable service and even a Fairy Godmother to assure dreams and wishes come true. Encompassing 3,300 acres, the historic Barnsley Gardens offers a unique fairytale getaway for a dreamlike experience.
If you go: Note: Check to see if Clint Coker is at the Museum on a visit. He is passionate about the Resort and shares a wealth of knowledge of the manor, the family, and the successful restoration. Clint had a major influence in the estate’s being salvaged, capturing the family heritage, and was personally involved in the transformation to a world-class resort. Clint is the “Knight in Shining Armor” of the Barnsley Gardens Resort. History buffs will delight in his book “Barnsley Gardens At Woodlands: The Illustrious Dream,” which is available at the resort.
Barnsley Gardens Resort, 597 Barnsley Gardens Rd NW, Adairsville, GA 30103; (770) 773-7480; www.barnsleyresort.com.