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Collections
Drayton Hall’s collection of archaeological finds, archives and decorative arts tell us about the estate’s creation, a life of privilege, the realities of a plantation and an encroaching war.

From investigations of the main house to surrounding areas like the African American cemetery, the late eighteenth-century privy building, the twentieth-century freedmen’s village and the former garden house and colonnades, our staff archaeologists are continually discovering new information about the residents of Drayton Hall. Archaeological features and artifacts recovered through such excavations are invaluable as they provide insight into the undocumented lives of the Native Americans and Africans who were enslaved at Drayton Hall during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

Manuscripts, maps, diaries, and letters provide invaluable information about the Drayton estate and daily life during the 18th and 19th century. From measures to repair the main house following the revolutionary war to maps illustrating changes on the landscape in the late 19th century, Drayton Hall’s archives provide a rare glimpse of more than 200 years of history.

In addition to its surviving historic structures and landscape, Drayton Hall’s Collection consists of fine 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.