Discovery, Featured

Anchored in History

Set off on an educational excursion and step back in time. As you cruise up the winding Ashley River, Charleston’s Lowcountry beauty is on full display. Your destination? The 300-year-old Middleton Place, home of the oldest landscaped gardens in North America.                  You may have already fallen in love with Charleston’s coastal appeal. A peninsula surrounded by water, glimpses of its blue shimmer peak out behind historic mansions and cobblestone streets. But beyond historic downtown, Charleston’s living history comes alive in an even more impactful way. Slip away for an insightful cruise with Coastal Expeditions and Master Captain Chris Crolley, one of the state’s most knowledgeable naturalists. As you pass the site of the first settlement dating back to 1670, Charles Towne Landing, you’ll be regaled with tales of those first settlers and the Kiawah and Wando tribes, who called the Lowcountry home. As you traverse up the Ashley River into more peaceful waters past notable sites like Drayton Hall and Magnolia Plantation, feel the ocean spray, smell the rich scent of pluff mud and be amazed as dolphins and pelicans glide past. As Middleton Place slowly comes into view, you’ll be reminded of how life once was, when visitors arrived via the waterways 200 years ago. Established in 1741, the plantation was the primary residence of several generations of the Middleton family, many of whom played prominent roles in the colonial and antebellum history of South Carolina along with the enslaved West Africans who lived and worked tirelessly to sustain the thriving plantation. Now a National Historic Landmark, the grounds are used as a museum to tell the complete history of the early Colonial period through the Revolution, the early Republic, the Civil War era and beyond. Surrounded by water on a tiny split of land, you’ll pull up onto the historic field dike, still preserved, as wild flowers and sea reeds blow in the distance. Birds fly over head and alligators can be seen swimming and sunning themselves on the adjacent bank. As you round the corner and traverse the grass path toward the main house, you’ll notice rolling terraces and buildings dating back to the 19th century. Escorted by Middleton Place’s expert Historian, a carriage ride will take you past the Cypress Lake and live oaks covered in Spanish moss, as you learn more about the upkeep – then and now – of these storied grounds. Next, you’ll be guided through the house museum, which contains original furniture before going “beyond the fields” to learn about the personal histories of the enslaved people. As you explore the working stableyard and barnyard, you’ll get a glimpse of the tools, pottery and clothing made by the skilled enslaved artisans. They also tended to an array of livestock and you’ll see that numerous animals still call Middleton Place home, including horses, sheep and water buffalo. After, get lost in thought among the allées in the formal gardens, considered to be the oldest in the country, where camellias date back to 1787 including the first four camellias brought to North America. The gardens are also home to the oldest tea olive and crepe myrtle trees in the country. Past the Butterfly Lakes, you’ll discover the most notable feature of the gardens, the Middleton Oak, a massive Southern live oak tree with a trunk diameter of 35 feet, generally thought to be amongst the oldest in the Southern United States. As you reflect on your day, discuss all that you learned as you savor a farm to table lunch with vegetables grown at the on-site organic farm before departing for downtown Charleston and your home away from home. An essential American experience, Anchored in History is exclusively available for guests of Charleston Place, A Belmond Hotel. For more information or to book this incomparable experience, contact us at 843-722-4900.
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Discovery, Featured

One of a Kind Experiences in Charleston

The list of reasons travelers rank Charleston as one of the top destinations in the country is quite extensive. Mild year-round weather, Southern hospitality, amazing history, and one of the most dynamic culinary scenes in the country. Just to name a few.

In addition to helping you explore the city’s most popular activities and attractions, our concierge team can arrange one-of-a-kind experiences—ones that guests typically would not find on their own. We asked our team to share a list of their favorite gems that they’ve planned for guests through the years.

1. A private walking tour of Charleston’s exclusive gardens in the historic district, by native author and expert, Louisa Pringle Cameron.

2. A tee time at either the Seabrook Island or Daniel Island Clubs, both which are closed to the public.

3. A private “behind-the-scenes” carriage ride at Middleton Place Plantation (reservations are not normally accepted).

4. A charter of the sailing yacht, The Fate, which is a privately owned 49-foot Beneteau that sleeps up to six people.

5. A private driving tour of “Little Jerusalem” by a member of Temple Beth Elohim, the oldest reform synagogue in the world.

6. An exclusive “behind-the-scenes” tour of the Calhoun Mansion.

7. Private tours of artists’ studios as well as introductions to the artists themselves.

8. A private historic district tour via bicycle with native authority Harlan Green—author of six books on Charleston history.

9. A morning or afternoon of horseback riding along the beach at Seabrook Island.

10. A private flying tour, either by Cessna or helicopter.

11. For a special occasion, a private dinner in a historic home with a famous local chef.

Have you enjoyed any of these hidden gems? What others would you recommend to locals or visitors? We would love to hear your thoughts!

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Discovery

Walkable History: Charleston City Market

There are few cities in the world that have preserved their past quite like Charleston. History abounds on every street corner with beautifully maintained architecture from houses and churches to historic sites and museums. Tucked away gardens and antebellum plantations dot the city like intricate seashells.

Finding a historic attraction is about as easy as finding a courteous local with a penchant for holding doors open. So put away your map, guide book and iPhone, and strike out for the first street you come to. Let a true sense of adventure light your way.

Based in the center of the historic district, Belmond Charleston Place is the perfect location from which to relive Charleston’s rich history. In our “Walkable History” series, we’ll do just that, sharing our favorite spots to see history come alive in Charleston. All within a short stroll from the doors of the hotel.
Charleston City Market
Located directly across from the hotel’s Meeting Street entrance, you’ll find the Charleston City Market—a historically significant landmark dating back to 1788. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney ceded the land where the Market is built to the City of Charleston under the stipulation that the land would forever be used as a public market.Construction was complete in 1807 and the buildings behind the Daughter’s of the Confederacy building were used to house meat, vegetable and fish markets. Butchers paid $2.00 for booth rental because the space was equipped with a marble slab to keep meat cold. Buzzards were nicknamed the “Charleston Eagle” because they were often found outside of the market begging for scraps.

Several years later the building was burned and not rebuilt until 1841. After the rebuilding, the market was used for Market Commissioner’s meetings, social functions and space rental underneath. Since 1970, the space has been used for arts, crafts and gourmet goods. The City Market saw it’s most recent renovation in 2011, enclosing the building and providing central heating and air.

While strolling the market you will find great shopping in booths such as the Charleston Angler, Gallery Chuma and The Historic Charleston Foundation. Restaurants such as Caviar and Bananas and Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit serve up delicious food and provide comfortable tables for weary shoppers. The Charleston City Market is a “must see” when visiting the city.

To learn more about the unique items you’ll find while strolling the Market, click here.

Photo credit: Charleston Museum Archives

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