Wormsloe On The Isle of Hope

An April morning at the front gate of Wormsloe on the Isle of Hope. Photo by me, April 2016.

The Isle Of Hope on the Georgia coast has been claimed by various Native American tribes from the Yuchi to the Creeks to the Yamacraw and it was then the territory of Spain before colonists from England arrived in the early 1700s. The English established the nearby city of Savannah in 1733.

The Isle of Hope is just outside the city limits of Savannah and is surrounded by muddy salt marshes on all sides that are fed from the Atlantic Ocean. The island is a small one only four miles long and two miles wide.

The first English settler on the Isle of Hope was Noble Jones in 1736 who built his home there beginning in 1739 through 1745. He built a fortified house on the tip of the island overlooking the Skidaway Narrows to defend against any Spanish attacks.

With Jones constructing his home Wormslow estate was established. Yes, it was originally spelled Wormslow and not the present spelling of Wormsloe. The present spelling wouldn't be adopted until the 1800s by a later relative that inherited the estate.

The tabby ruins of Wormsloe. Photo by me, April 2016.
Photo by me, April 2016.
You can see the embedded oyster shells in the tabby. Photo by me, April 2016.

All that remains of the original home today are a few walls and they are what is referred to as tabby ruins. Tabby is a composite mixture similar to concrete made up of oyster shells, sand, gravel and lime. It was commonly used in coastal Georgia and South Carolina in the 17th and 18th centuries and the origins of the word stems from the Gullah word tabi which was derived from the Spanish word tapia.

During the period of Noble Jones he cultivated corn, fruit, rice, various vegetables and possibly indigo. There was an attempt to produce silk but that was never successful. Jones of course wasn't doing this work himself, the crops were attended to by the labor of slaves.

A family cemetery at Wormsloe. Photo by me, April 2016.

The estate would pass through the generations of family hands until it was acquired by the State of Georgia in 1973. In 1979 it opened to the public as a historic site but the descendants of Jones still own a portion of the Isle Of Hope and maintain a residence there.

Oak trees as far as the eye can see. Photo by me, April 2016.

For me the most beautiful place at Wormsloe and in the Savannah area is the oak tree lined gravel drive into the estate. The avenue was planted in the 1800s and contains over 400 oak trees draped in Spanish moss; it creates wonderfully long shadows. Some might think that Oak Alley Plantation in Louisiana is pretty and I have been there but it pales in comparison to the entryway to Wormsloe. Driving down the oak avenue is like driving through a tunnel made of massive trees. Seeing it in person, it is difficult to not stare at this wonder.

Photo by me, April 2016.

Look up, it is something we do not enough in life, and see the sun shining through the Spanish moss. Though Spanish moss is common in coastal Georgia I never get enough of seeing it and it is one of my favorite aspects of visiting the area. It conjures in me a feeling of the past and of mystery.

Photo by me, April 2016.
Photo by me, April 2016.

These are photos of the salt marshes surrounding the Isle Of Hope from Wormsloe. These were taken at low tide so much of the mud was exposed near the shore among the tall grass. I would imagine you would sink up deep down into the mud if you set foot on it.

A small wooden sailboat on display. Photo by me, April 2016.
Photo by me, April 2016.
Photo by me, April 2016.

This small cottage is one of the areas where historical recreations are done. I fell in love with this little cottage building and the weathered colors of it. It seems like it would be a cozy getaway cottage far from civilization and a nice place to put up your feet and read a book next to the fireplace on a rainy day.

Wormsloe is undeniably beautiful with the views of the salt marshes and the towering oak avenue at the entrance. For sight-seeing there are the ruins of the old house, a museum, nature trails and actors doing historical recreations.