The Drayton Hall Collections

Multidisciplinary research carried out at Drayton Hall over the last seven years has significantly expanded our understanding of the architecture, furnishings, landscape, and residents of one of colonial America’s greatest plantations. Using a variety of investigative techniques and drawing from archaeological fragments excavated on site, surviving furniture, decorative arts objects, and extant architecture, there now exists a greater understanding of the material culture of this elite Lowcountry home seat and the status of its wealthy planter John Drayton (1715–1779) and other 18th-century residents—all within the context of the expanding British Empire.

In addition to its surviving historic structures and landscape, Drayton Hall’s Collection consists of fine arts, decorative arts, and historical artifacts that tell the site’s story from its prehistory to the present. Some of the objects, such as a tea set and a pair of marble-topped tables, illustrate the Drayton family’s status and taste through time and are representative of the belongings of other Lowcountry rice planter families of the era. Others, such as fanner baskets and slave tags, put a human face on slavery and everyday life on a Lowcountry plantation. The Archaeological Collection includes objects and artifacts found on the site during excavation and field study.

In addition, Drayton Hall also has a number of secondary collections: architectural elements that have been removed from the building such as decorative plaster and wood moldings; archives that include documents, manuscripts, photographs, news clippings, maps, and ephemera related to the Drayton family and the site; and an education collection which consists of objects for interpretive use, such as contemporary rice baskets.

The Collections are housed both on-site and in appropriate off-site storage facilities. Although Drayton Hall’s collections are not accessible by the public on a daily basis, we do offer lectures and programs on a periodic basis. Independent scholars and researchers may apply to view particular collections to further their course of study; such requests are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Drayton Hall Reimagined — Learn about the future of Drayton Hall.