Drayton Hall’s Collections Objects in New Exhibit

Charles Drayton (1743-1820). Artist unknown. ca. 1760. Watercolor on ivory, supported by burnished bezel case with hanging loop and mounted brooch pin. Drayton Hall Museum Collection, National Trust for Historic Preservation. Gift of Mr. Charles H. Drayton, III. Photograph courtesy of Mr. Russell Buskirk.

Charles Drayton (1743-1820). Artist unknown. ca. 1760. Watercolor on ivory, supported by burnished bezel case with hanging loop and mounted brooch pin. Drayton Hall Museum Collection, National Trust for Historic Preservation. Gift of Mr. Charles H. Drayton, III. Photograph courtesy of Mr. Russell Buskirk.

By Sarah Stroud Clarke, Archaeologist + Curator of Collections

A group of objects from the Drayton Hall Museum and Archaeological Collections are on their way to The Society of The Four Arts in Palm Beach, FL, to be part of the exhibition An Eye for Opulence: Charleston through the Lens of the Rivers Collection at the Esther B. O’Keeffe Gallery, November 21, 2015 through January 10, 2016 (opening weekend November 20-22, 2015). The exhibit features the private collection of John M. Rivers, Jr., as well as objects from the Gibbes Museum of Art, Historic Charleston Foundation, The Charleston Museum, and Drayton Hall.

See images from Opening Night here.

Drayton Hall is pleased to be part of this wonderful group of institutions bringing together key elements of Charleston’s past through surviving material culture. Drayton Hall represents the earliest surviving colonial estate in Charleston, South Carolina, and the objects on loan to the Four Arts illustrate the great diversity in the collections found at Drayton Hall. Included are Chinese-export porcelains original to John Drayton’s (1715-1779) ownership of the house, personal items belonging to Charles Drayton (1743-1820), and objects made by enslaved African Americans.

One of the objects, rarely seen by the public, is the exquisite miniature portrait of Charles Drayton (1743-1820) shown above. Painted c. 1760 when Charles was a young gentleman, possibly around the time he was preparing to further his studies in England.

The archaeological collection at Drayton Hall illustrates the many renditions of Chinese-export porcelains that John Drayton (1715-1779) utilized during his lifetime. This nearly intact octagonal saucer, shown below, may represent porcelain purchased in celebration of one of his first two marriages. John Drayton married four times during the course of his life, his first two wives both succumbed to death as the result of childbirth; Sarah Cattell in 1740 and Charlotte Bull (Charles Drayton’s mother) in 1743 just days after Charles’ birth.

Jingdezhen, China, ca. 1740. Hard-paste porcelain with hand-painted underglaze cobalt blue decoration. Drayton Hall Archaeological Collection. Photograph by Mr. Russell Buskirk.

Jingdezhen, China, ca. 1740. Hard-paste porcelain with hand-painted underglaze cobalt blue decoration. Drayton Hall Archaeological Collection. Photograph by Mr. Russell Buskirk.

Colonoware is a type of low-fired earthenware pottery that was created by enslaved African and Native Americans in colonial North America. Shown below, this Colonoware sherd found at Drayton Hall is decorated with a rare example of incised Latin alphabet characters.

South Carolina, possibly the Charleston area, mid-to late 18th century. Low-fired earthenware with incised initials MHD, possibly for Maria Henrietta Drayton (1783-1862), daughter of Charles Drayton. Drayton Hall Archaeological Collection.

South Carolina, possibly the Charleston area, mid-to late 18th century. Low-fired earthenware with incised initials MHD, possibly for Maria Henrietta Drayton (1783-1862), daughter of Charles Drayton. Drayton Hall Archaeological Collection.

We hope you’ll join us in Palm Beach for this fascinating exhibition of over 100 objects from Charleston’s Golden Era.

Sarah Stroud Clarke headshot 2013

Sarah Stroud Clarke is the Archaeologist + Curator of Collections at Drayton Hall, overseeing the archaeological laboratory and recent excavations of the Drayton Hall property and was the 2007 Drayton Hall Wood Family Fellow. She is concurrently working on her PhD in Anthropology at Syracuse University which focuses on the “pre-Drayton” occupation of the property from 1680-1735.

The Esther B. O’Keeffe Gallery is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. Gallery admission is $5; no charge for Four Arts members and children 14 and younger. Click here for more on the exhibit.

The Society of the Four Arts was founded in 1936 to offer quality cultural programming to the growing resort community of Palm Beach. Each season, The Four Arts offers a dynamic lineup of cultural programing, including notable speakers, concerts, films, educational programs, and art exhibitions. The campus is home to beautiful sculpture and botanical gardens, a library and children’s library, and a state-of-the art educational facility. The Four Arts is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity and all programs are open to the public.

Job Announcement: Wexler-Funded Curatorial Fellow


Circa 1740 Colonoware cooking pot created by enslaved people and used at Drayton Hall. Photo credit: Colonial Williamsburg

Under the supervision of the Drayton Hall Preservation Trust Archaeologist + Curator of Collections, the Wexler-Funded Curatorial Fellow (WFCF) is responsible for generating high-quality digital data on archaeological artifacts, excavation contexts, and site plans, with the use of detailed classification, measurement, digitizing, and coding protocols developed by the Monticello Archaeology Lab and the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery (DAACS). The WFCF is responsible for cataloging the legacy archaeological collection at Drayton Hall in order to contribute to a greater understanding of the material culture of the past inhabitants of the Drayton Hall property. The fellowship is a funded position with funding expected to last for approximately 24 months.


  • Mastery of DAACS protocols and data structures for artifacts and context data and their instantiation in the DAACS database.
  • Expertise in the material culture of the early-modern Atlantic world, especially ceramics and a basic understanding of stratigraphy, soils, sediments, archaeological survey and excavation techniques.
  • Knowledge of current scholary literature in historical archaeology.
  • Ability to communicate effectively through writing, informal tours, and professional presentations. Fellow is expected to work with supervisor to present results at professional conferences and to communicate with Deborah and Peter Wexler on the status and progress of the fellowship.
  • Excellent organizational skills with extreme attention to detail and diligent and patient work practices.
  • Be a team player and be able to lead, follow, and/or support colleagues in a tactful, positive way.
  • Other duties as assigned.


  • Bachelor’s Degree in anthropology or related discipline, preferably with a concentration in archaeology.
  • Graduate degree in anthropology.
  • Previous DAACS training by the Monticello/DAACS staff a plus.
  • A minimum of two years’ experience in archaeological research.
  • Must have strong oral and written communication skills.

Position Details

  • Department: Preservation
  • Reports To: Archaeologist + Curator of Collections
  • FLSA Status: Non-Exempt
  • Employment Status: Full Time

Please send a cover letter, resume, and contact information for three references who can support the applicant’s ability to perform the duties described above, to:
Drayton Hall Preservation Trust
Attn: Sarah Stroud Clarke, Archaeologist + Curator of Collections
3380 Ashley River Road, Charleston, SC 29414
Or you may email your application materials to sstroudclarke@draytonhall.org
No phone calls, please.
The Drayton Hall Preservation Trust is an equal opportunity employer.

Latest Discoveries from Drayton Hall will be Featured at Breaking Ground and Building Bridges Symposium

Join us on Nov. 21 and 22 for Breaking Ground and Building Bridges, a symposium that brings together leading scholars and institutions to present new research on the material culture of the Carolina lowcountry. Speakers will discuss exciting initiatives and current research projects made possible by collaborative efforts among local institutions and scholars. Trish Smith, Curator of Historic Architectural Resources, is the first speaker at the symposium and will present “High Fidelity: The Digital Restoration of Drayton Hall” on Friday at 1:15 p.m. Dr. Carter Hudgins, Deputy Director of Drayton Hall, will share his latest research in “Putting the Pieces Together: Multidisciplinary Discoveries at Drayton Hall on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. Sarah Stroud Clarke, Archaeologist and Curator of Collections, will present “The Accomplished Woman: Charlotte Drayton Manigault’s Artistic Legacy at Drayton Hall” alongside Lauren Northup, Collections Manager of Historic Charleston Foundation, at 11:30 a.m.

The symposium is sponsored by Historic Charleston Foundation, Drayton Hall, The Charleston Museum, and The Preservation Society of Charleston. All proceeds will benefit the sponsoring institutions. Symposium tickets are $100/person for the general public and free for students.

Browsing John Drayton’s Library: Cookbooks

An individual’s personal library has the potential to reveal significant information about their character, interests, worldview, and education. Such is certainly the case at Drayton Hall, where research has identified what is likely a list of the titles that once graced the bookshelves of John Drayton (c.1715-1779), the builder of Drayton Hall. Written by son Charles Drayton (1743-1820), such a list contains more than 440 titles published before or during John Drayton’s lifetime, indicating his intellectual pursuits and attention to the ideals of the enlightenment.

Not surprising, the list of titles includes nine architectural pattern books that were undoubtedly utilized to construct Drayton Hall. Additional areas of interest include natural history, astronomy, landscape design, horticulture, dance, and even gastronomy. As research continues to investigate the titles of Drayton’s library, we anticipate that an increased understanding will be brought to Drayton, his educational opportunities and academic pursuits. ​

This month, we are sharing our latest research on John Drayton’s library with a series of posts featuring some of the volumes he would have owned and read.

John Drayton Library

This listing from Charles Drayton’s journal is likely an inventory of his father John Drayton’s library.


Edited 1280px-Art_of_Cookery_frontispieceAs this is the time of year to delve into the recipe files for our cherished family recipes, it is fun to note that John Drayton’s library also contained cookbooks. He owned both the 1736 edition of The Modern Cook: Containing Instructions for Preparing and Ordering Public Entertainments for the Tables of Princes by Vincent la Chapelle and the 1774 edition of The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy by Hannah Glasse. Ms. Glasse’s cookbook was a favorite among the English and English colonists alike having first been published in 1747 and then reprinted through the early 19th century. The two recipes below come from the 1774 edition and may have made their way onto a dining table in Drayton Hall. The first, A Carolina Rice Pudding, highlights South Carolina’s cash crop of the pre-Revolutionary colony and the second, To Stew a Turkey Brown, may provide a few pointers for your own Thanksgiving turkey this year—you may have been forgetting that all important anchovy! Bon appetite!


Carolina Rice Pudding


Stew a Turkey Brown


What is it?

Drayton Hall Artifact

This artifact was recovered from the south flanker well excavation in 1980. It is a very beautiful mid-eighteenth century sweetmeat glass with a honeycomb-molded bowl made from leaded glass. It very likely graced the tables of John Drayton during the last course of a meal when sweetmeats were served in addition to dried fruits and nuts.

In Case You Missed It: Distinguished Speakers Series Presentation by Ronald L. Hurst

As part of the Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series, Ronald L. Hurst gave a presentation entitled A Rich and Varied Culture: the Material World of the Early South on September 18, 2014. Already seven months into its five-year-tenure, A Rich and Varied Culture: the Material World of the Early South has been hailed as a groundbreaking exhibit that is the first of its kind in 50 years. The exhibit highlights the breadth of the material culture of the 18th century – furniture, ceramics, metals, archaeological artifacts, and more.  The objects chosen from Drayton Hall’s Collections span the first and second periods of Drayton Hall when John (1715-1779) and his son Charles (1743-1820) were in residence. Included will be the most significant piece of furniture in Drayton Hall’s collection: a rare, English-made desk and bookcase, c. 1745. Described by Hurst as “the finest example of furniture to survive from Colonial America,” this exquisite piece is a testament to John Drayton’s wealth and sophistication, and his position as one of colonial America’s most significant merchant planters.

All Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series programs will begin promptly at 7:00 p.m. and will be hosted at South Carolina Society Hall, 72 Meeting Street, downtown Charleston.
Doors will open by 6:30 p.m., seating is limited, and a dessert reception will follow. This program is free to Friends of Drayton Hall and their guests.
The fall 2014 Drayton Hall Distinguished Speaker Series continues with an October 16th presentation by Andrew O’Shaughnessy, University of Virginia/Monticello, entitled The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire; and a November 20th presentation by Architectural Historian Jill M. Lord entitled Improvement of the Americas: The Architecture of Colonial American Libraries.

Profile on William Henry Drayton

Portrait courtesy of the Library of Courtesy.

Portrait courtesy of the Library of Congress.

If Charles Pinckney (1751-1824)—Continental Congressman, signer of the U.S. Constitution, Governor of South Carolina, and minister to Spain—is considered to be a “forgotten founder” by historians,  then so to is William Henry Drayton (1742-1779). 

But, it is William Henry Drayton—Chief Justice of South Carolina, Continental Congressman, and signer of the Articles of Confederation (1778)—that perpetuated what has become the time-honored tradition of celebrating the establishment of our nation with a “grand fireworks” display on the “glorious anniversary” of Independence. 

Although not the first pyrotechnic exhibition, Drayton felt it essential to carry on with commemoration of the signing in 1779, even if the day fell on a sacred Sunday or in the midst of the yet uncertainty and casualties.  He believed it would be “calculated for improving bodily strength—to make Men athletic & robust,” a moral boost for a weary nation and so it was!

Unfortunately, William Henry only lived a few months after his arguments for continuing commemoration in the Continental Congress.  His death at the age of thirty-seven in September of 1779 ended the trajectory of this young founding father, but his contribution, although brief, laid another course in the foundation of the United States of America.

If you are interested to learn more about William Henry Drayton, please read Keith Krawczynski’s William Henry Drayton: South Carolina’s Revolutionary Patriot.

What is it? William Henry Drayton Mirror Knob

W.H. Drayton mirror knob RESIZED for blog

Late 18th century mirror knob. Copper alloy, enamel, and iron. Gift of Mr. John Mayer. Photographed by Russell Buskirk.

This unique object from the Drayton Hall Museum Collection illustrates the popularity of Revolutionary War patriot William Henry Drayton. While research on this item is ongoing, this object is thought to be a mirror knob used to help support the frame of a mirror to the wall; an explanation of mirror knobs can be found in the 1904-1905 edition of House BeautifulOther potential terms for this item include cloak pin or curtain pin. Whatever its use, the bust of W.H. Drayton is depicted in black on white enamel. Copper alloy with dot decoration serves to frame the ‘miniature,’ the reverse is brass with a threaded iron shaft. The image is taken from the Benoît Louis Prévost engravings of Pierre Eugène Du Simitière’s c.1777 portraits of American patriots which included William Henry Drayton. It is important to note that Du Simitière is also the artist that painted the 1765 watercolor depicting Drayton Hall.

Drayton Hall Archaeologist Attends DAACS Research Consortium


Visitors to Drayton Hall are often curious about the original window panes. Most of the original window glass is now in the form of archaeological artifacts. Our archaeologist Sarah Stroud Clarke is hard at work cataloging some of this glass while attending a training session for the DAACS Research Consortium. Photograph courtesy of the Fairfield Foundation.

Last week, Drayton Hall archaeologist and curator of collections Sarah Stroud Clarke participated in the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery (DAACS) Research Consortium at Monticello. Participants from 11 partner institutions came together to form the consortium. The Fairfield Foundation’s blog gives an excellent overview of the consortium in “Archaeology Nerds Unite for Research Consortium at Monticello.”

Colonial Williamsburg Object: Drayton Side Chair

Drayton Side Chair, British, c.1750. Post-conservation photograph by Craig McDougal. Courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Gift of Mr. Charles H. Drayton, III.

One of two significant pieces of British furniture placed on loan to Colonial Williamsburg for the new exhibit A Rich and Varied Culture: The Material World of the Early South (officially opening this Friday, February 14) is a side chair contemporary to Drayton Hall’s construction (c.1738-1750). Carved from mahogany and deal and marked with the number 1, this chair is one of four known survivors from an original set of twelve numbered chairs imported from Britain for use in the great hall. Conservation of the wooden chair frame began with the careful cleaning of dirt and debris. This was followed by the removal of 20th century upholstery from the existing slip seat frame in an attempt to locate evidence of the original seat fabric. Through this process, it was determined that the slip seat frame was a 20th-century replacement, and an example of period silk upholstery was selected from 18th-century patterns to finish the chair.

Check out the Drayton side chair and 26 other pieces from Drayton Hall at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum’s exhibit A Rich and Varied Culture: The Material World of the Early South. 

Cheers to 2014!

Champagne glass cropped 96 dpi FOR EMMA

As we ring in 2014 with toasts to the exciting work in the year ahead, here is an example of what the Drayton family was using for their champagne toasts in the 1880s. The Drayton Hall museum collection contains a wonderful, late nineteenth-century collection of champagne glasses, punch cups, tumblers and finger bowls, all made by the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company from 1880-1887. The Boston and Sandwich Glass Company was located on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and employed skilled glassblowers from England and Ireland. This set of glassware is of the “Roman Key and Star” pattern with an etched double-banded key pattern near the rim and a field of stars cut on the bowl. Gift of Mr. Charles H. Drayton III.

Discovering Drayton Hall All Over Again

by Alison Rea

Drayton Hall appears bathed in afternoon light. Sitting patiently through time. Empty, but once bursting with long-gone lives one can only try to imagine. Except, at Drayton Hall, archaeologists and historians have been painstakingly piecing together an accurate picture of life from 1738, when the Palladian grand house was started, to the present.

Alison Rea, author and Drayton family descendant, sits with Charlie Drayton during the Backlot Celebration at Drayton Hall in November 2013.

Alison Rea, author and Drayton family descendant, sits with Charlie Drayton during the Backlot Celebration in November.

In November, I went to an event on the former plantation grounds that showed a range of findings that Drayton Hall has been assembling. Digital reconstructions of the original paint revealed the taste of the early 18th century that was not at all like the light pinks and blues with cream woodwork that a novice like me has come to expect of colonial times. Instead, John Drayton, the builder, chose a surprisingly modern neutral stone color for the walls with the stairs and associated woodwork a startlingly dark reddish color—that I was later told was mahogany stained with a crimson dye made from Cochineal bugs—a distinctive hue I most often associate with Persian rugs.

Most interesting to me was a room of pottery sherds from the beginning of habitation on the site. Sarah Stroud Clarke, Archaeologist at Drayton Hall, identified a few pottery sherds created by Native Americans, who I learned were some of the first and primary slaves in the area. Other artifacts on display were created later by enslaved natives and Africans as the two cultures merged. There were also early settler fragments of pottery imitating porcelain—then a worldwide endeavor. But perhaps most accessible to me was the lovely Chinese export saucer and cup fragments. Among the motifs were delicate gold and rose flowers and various birds.

I look forward to Drayton Hall having an interpretive center where everyone who visits can see what I got to see at this special exhibit and learn more about the time and place as I did. It was great.

About the Author

Alison Rea is a New York freelance writer/editor who has written for a number of organizations including The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), KPMG, and CFO Research Services. She was formerly U.S. Editor for Strategic Finance—an EIU quarterly serving top financial-services executives, Money and Banking Editor for Business Week, a reporter for Fortune, and U.S. Banking Correspondent for Reuters.

Alison is a descendant of John Drayton and the daughter of Elizabeth Drayton Taylor and Charles deVere Drayton. See Alison’s Family Tree for her lineage.