Is Drayton Hall Haunted?


First posted by Craig Tuminaro, former Director of Museum Interpretation, on February 20, 2009

A recent comment from a blog reader inspired me to compose a response to the often-asked question: Is Drayton Hall haunted?    I can say with 100% certainty that you can see ghosts at Drayton Hall—ghost marks that is, the faded outlines of pictures and now-missing architectural elements that once adorned some interior walls.  But could there also be spiritual remnants that have been “left behind” by one or more of Drayton Hall’s occupants, ethereal counterparts to the faded lines and layers of history embedded within the walls?

Many people—visitors and staff alike—will say: “Absolutely yes, Drayton Hall IS haunted” while others will just as strongly say the opposite.  Several visitors believe they have captured photographic evidence of ghosts or other spiritual beings inside the house; shadows, circles, or oddly bright areas appear, seemingly without explanation.  Drayton Hall was featured on an episode of America’s Most Haunted Places that aired on The Travel Channel in 2003 with the claim that “original family members are said to still walk”  through the house.  Members of our staff were interviewed and described their encounters with something they felt sure was “not of this world.”  Others still have reported unusual experiences not in the house, but in different areas across the grounds.

Over the course of its history, hundreds of people knew Drayton Hall as home.  While some were here by choice, others had no option.  And of those hundreds, we know many were born here, and many died here as well.  It took many hands to build and fashion the place that became Drayton Hall, and many more to sustain it and shape its future over time.   Is it possible that one, two, or several of those that were once here have somehow remained behind?

Withdrawing Room

The tendency at historic sites is often to shy away from or just flat out ignore this aspect of their history.  Ironically though, it is one that really seems to grab people’s attention.  At a preserved site like Drayton Hall, where every layer is visible, where it seems like you can almost reach out and touch the past, it’s hard not to feel the presence of something out of the ordinary.    We invite you to come and experience the house and grounds for yourself, and to let you decide whether Drayton Hall is haunted or not.   Will you feel the presence of the past—be it a true “ghost,” a puff of cold air, or maybe just the spine tingle of being able to share in such a rare and special place?

Shadow Drayton Hall

Will we ever then have a definitive answer to the question?  My sense is no.  For skeptics like me, the evidence would have to be extremely compelling, Instead, I find the fingerprints of the brick maker you can still see and feel in some of the bricks, or the stained area of a wall thought to be perhaps from the hands of an enslaved attendant who stood in waiting with their hands behind them, or the penciled lines marking the heights of the Drayton children in the l800s, or the peaceful, cool quiet in the once-bustling raised basement, to be “haunting” reminders of the many things Drayton Hall has been in the course of almost three centuries of history.

Did you experience anything supernatural while visiting Drayton Hall? If so, please share your stories and photos with us in the comment section below or on our Facebook page.

6 thoughts on “Is Drayton Hall Haunted?

  1. Why does everyone employed at Drayton Hall have to include in anything they write comments like “While some were here by choice, others had no option.” ? I do not mean to minimize the role of the slaves in Southern history and culture. I just wonder why comments as the one mentioned above are necessary in the context of the subject of your blog?

    • Mr. Lassen,
      Thanks for your question. I suppose the short answer would be that, given the tone of this posting generally, and specifically the sentence that preceded the one quoted, I felt it necessary to clarify that while Drayton Hall was a home, that is not necessarily how all of the people who lived within its walls might have felt. We try in all of our writing, house tours, and other programs to be aware of the diverse experiences people had here over the centuries, and to be respectful of that history. We hope that is a common thread readers and visitors DO notice, and one we hope they’ll appreciate as well.

  2. My wife,daughter and I were at Drayton Hall in June of 2008. When we were on the ouside just before going in to the main house,my wife kept experiencing the sound and feel of a smelly dog that kept sniffing her leg and feet. When she’d look down there would be no dog there. Was no way that he could have dissapeared in that quick of time. She and iur daufgter said the dog followed them on to the entrance of the main house where the tour began.

  3. I don’t know if it was a ghost or not, but I definitely had an unexplainable experience when my family and I visited Drayton Hall back in the 1999. I had just moved here and they came to visit, so I thought a plantation tour would be fun. Let me first say, I had never even thought about the possibility of ghosts being at this place or even the history whatsoever. So we were touring the inside of the house and made our way with the group into a yellow room on the first floor. The lady tour guide was standing on the inside of the room facing the group and the windows and we had our backs to the windows. We were at the back of the group (placing us nearer to the windows than the guide). After a couple minutes, I felt as if I was being nudged repeatedly from behind, making me move to the 3 o’clock position. At first I just thought I was wobbling on my feet since we were standing there for a bit, but I consciously started to stop myself and couldn’t. I then tried to push against the movement and found that I was still moving. After a minute or so of this exchange, it stopped and I was standing still. I looked around to see if the windows were open, but they were closed and I hadn’t felt a breeze anyway. I wasn’t scared or excited at the time, just curious and confused. I told my mom and sister about it right after it happened as we all were moving alone the rest of the tour. After the tour my family told me I should ask the guide if the Hall was haunted. I approached the guide in the gift shop when the tour was over and I asked if anyone had ever reported anything strange happening in the yellow room. She told me some people had supposedly seen a gentleman in uniform in the small stairwell at the inside of that room. Then I told her of what I had experienced and she didn’t seem particularly surprised. Still to this day I don’t know what it was, but I haven’t experienced anything like that since and I haven’t been back to Drayton Hall for no other reason than not making the time. However, I have thought numerous times about going back just to see if it happens again.

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