Natchez

We’re here in our lovely B&B up on the bluff over the Mississippi. The house is lovely and our room is great. It’s a big contrast to the Shack Up Inn!


Natchez is celebrating 300 years since being founded this year (I think they’re skirting over the native peoples who lived in this area before the European settlers). It’s a city full of beautiful old Southern antebellum homes and it was where all the cotton plantation owners had their townhouses. Some are in better condition than others!


On arrival we headed straight to tour one of the big old mansions before it closed for the day. 


The Stanton house was built by Franklin Stanton, an immigrant from Ireland who made his fortune in cotton. We were shown around the house on a guided tour for the extortionate price of $20 a pop. We might have declined once we found out the price if we weren’t the only ones on the tour!

We were shown around by Jay, a Southern Lady of about 65 who was dressed in a giant hoop skirt in an attempt to seem in keeping with the house. She was reasonably knowledgable but we got off to a bad start when she showed her support for Trump!

We were told about the house and the family. She seemed very excited about the original furniture which had been making its way back to the house from various far flung relatives of the original Stanton family. 

I think, being British, perhaps we are spoiled by having the National Trust etc. This house was interesting, but it didn’t seem to our eyes to be particularly exciting historically. The furniture pieces were interesting but not necessarily particularly rare, and they dated from about the 1850s so they weren’t that old either. 

Tom thinks the whole thing was pretty crass all in all. The whole tour was about the house, furniture and wallpapers but there was no history of the family, absolutely no mention of slavery and the slave owning that built their fortune. It seemed rude to ask about it. 

The most interesting thing was that, somehow (it was never explained how) this and a number of other homes ended up in the ownership of the banks after the 1929 crash. At that point a group of 15 ladies bought it and started running it as a B&B and that’s why it survived. The group has now grown and owns a number of properties which are open to the public. 

We also visited their weird little silver shop (we were sent there!) and found these terrifying photos of some sort of cotillion or pageant through the years. Only in America!


All in all, history here is different to at home, more expensive to access, and hugely variable in quality of presentation. 

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