by ANNE BRALY
ADAIRSVILLE, Ga. – Barnsley Resort has a story to tell. It all started with a love affair that blossomed into a magnificent 19th-century villa — one that now lies in ruins.
As the story unfolds, we find Godfrey Barnsley, a wealthy businessman and cotton broker move with his young bride, Julia, from Savanah, Ga., to North Georgia to begin construction on an Italianate-design manor, known as The Woodlands. Before it was completed, however, Julia fell ill and died, leaving a heartbroken Godfrey to depart from the estate, not to return for another year. But one night, while in a deep sleep, Julia appeared before him in a dream, instructing him to finish the home for the enjoyment of future generations.
Within two years, construction of both the estate and surrounding gardens was complete, and Godfrey and his children lived there for a dozen years before the Civil War began its rampage through the South. The Woodlands sat smack dab in the path of General William T. Sherman’s advance team, and the manor suffered some damage, but not as much as expected as Godfrey, originally from England, flew the British flag over his home. But the final blow to Godfrey and Julia’s dream home came when a tornado ripped off its roof in 1906, leaving the house, save the kitchen wing, in ruins.
In 1988, Prince Hubertus Fugger of Germany bought the property, restored the ruins and its stunning gardens of rare trees, plants and handsome boxwoods, changed the name from The Woodlands to Barnsley Gardens, and opened his treasure to the public.
Ensuing years have seen the property, now known as Barnsley Resort, grow into a world-class retreat with 39 luxury cottages lining a village green dotted with fire pits for roasting s’more at night. In 2018, additional overnight accommodations were added with the opening of a magnificent 55-room inn. There are now 150 guest rooms.
Even though the ruined manor lacks a roof, the brick walls and floors have been shored up, making the ruins and its gardens a stunning, romantic setting for receptions and wedding parties. In fact, Barnsley Resort is one of the top wedding venues in the South. If you’re getting hitched, the resort will help you with the planning.
Go play outside
Barnsley Resort’s Jim Fazio-designed golf course is challenging, offering fairways that wrap themselves around a big lake, woodlands and gardens. At times, the cart path may intersect with horseback riders out for a trail ride or hikers out for some exercise, but this reveals some of the activities in which other resort guests participate. It’s like summer camp for adults.
There’s a pool for swimming in the heat of summer; a lake for canoeing and catch-and-release fishing – poles provided at no charge; a barnyard with goats, llamas and donkeys for petting; archery; and axe throwing will be added by the end of 2020.
The resort has also partnered with Beretta and John Burrell’s High Adventure Company to bring one of the top sporting clay facilities to the North Georgia area, along with 1,800 acres for quail hunting.
“Quail hunting here has been one of the best-kept secrets in the South,” Burrell says.
Mother Nature calls you outdoors, and Barnsley answers with recreational activities for all – from beginning riders to expert shootists; golfers with high and low handicaps; or to someone who just wants to sit on a bike, wet a line and enjoy the beauty found in this 3,000-acre piece of paradise.
Outdoor play brings on big appetites, and Barnsley has just what you need to calm those pangs of hunger.
The Beer Garden is a happening place on weekends. Located in the center of the resort, its menu is not extensive. In fact, breakfast may be a breakfast biscuit or burrito, but as the day progresses, so does the activity at this outdoor hub. Barbecue, pizza and wings, along with robust beers or a glass of wine around a roaring fire add a welcoming touch and family-like atmosphere.
Woodlands Grill has a casual, upscale menu and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, serving favorites from avocado toast or chicken hash to burgers, salads, sandwiches, soup, steaks. It’s typical grill fare with a nontraditional approach to flavor found in dishes such as diver scallops with southern succotash, chow-chow and boiled peanut beurre blanc. There’s a well-stocked bar with a roaring fire going during the winter months adjacent to the restaurant overlooking the golf course.
For finer dining, The Rice House is a dinner-only establishment in a 19th-century farmhouse dismantled and moved to the Barnsley property from a farm in nearby Rome, Ga. The menu, meticulously planned by Chef Nicolas Lebas, showcases the relationship Lebas and Barnsley Resort have formed with local farmers to feature the freshest in garden/farm-to-table ingredients.
The menu changes with the seasons, depending on what’s available, but may feature wild boar tenderloin; lamb meatballs in garlic cream; flounder with shrimp mousse and fall succotash. Reservations are recommended.
Another popular dining activity, halted during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but once again offered, is Barnsley Resort’s Supper Club.
Once was, supper clubs were functions held in social halls or private homes by invitation only. But the supper clubs at Barnsley are open to all and everyone is welcome to come and have a weekend of incredible food and fabulous fun.
A recent supper-club weekend, Swine and Wine – each supper club carries a different theme — began with a wine tasting from advanced-level sommelier Heath Porter, owner of Heathen Wine Tours, who introduced guests to an alternative selection of wines from around the world. On the second day of supper club – a beautiful, sunny day it was — Chef Lebas grilled oysters topped with compound butter and served them al fresco at tables dressed with white linen along the resort common.
The final evening was all about the pig – a 150-pound hog smoked for more than 18 hours by Carey Bringle who brought his smoker to Barnsley from his restaurant, Peg Leg Porker in Nashville. Adding to the feast was Lebas’ smoked brisket and numerous sides from Barnsley’s kitchen. The dinner went well into the evening with live music, a full bar and new friends meeting old friends with a full measure of respect for mask-wearing and social distancing.
Upcoming supper club dates and themes will be:
· Saturday, February 27: Field to Table.
· Saturday, April 17: Spring in the Garden with Executive Chef Nicolas Lebas.
· Sunday, July 4: Summer Celebration at the Manor House Ruins.
· Saturday, October 30: Swine and Wine Barbeque.
A Paw-Fect World
Barnsley Resort recently made the top-10 list of USA Today’s Pet Friendly Hotels and welcomes your pooch. And for a resort of this caliber, nothing but the best for Fido. For starters, you must be staying in one of the cottages — dogs are not permitted to stay overnight in the inn. Upon arrival, you’ll see that your cottage has been outfitted with a dog bed, a doggie bowl, bottled water, treats and the all-important poop baggies to clean up after his morning walk. There is a fee of $150 to $250 per stay depending on your cottage.
For more information or reservations, visit www.barnsleyresort.com