Magnolia House B & B in Franklin, Tennessee

July 25, 2012 in Editorials

It’s off to another bed & breakfast, and this time our trip took us to Franklin, Tenn., where the scenery of beautiful rolling hills and meadows lined the roadside as we neared this historic town. When we arrived at our destination, the historic Magnolia House Bed & Breakfast at 1317 Columbia Ave., we were welcomed by innkeeper, Robbie Smithson. She took us up to our room on the second floor, and we immediately knew our stay was going to be very comfortable and inviting in the Smithson’s home.

The Magnolia House’s four rooms for nightly guests were on the second floor, along with a relaxing sun porch and den/library where you could sit and read for hours or enjoy your favorite TV show. The wraparound porch overlooked a tree-lined back yard where squirrels were sneaking about gathering their winter stash. Our room was perfect with sliding glass patio doors opening to the porch and steps going down to the parking area. We found everything we needed, including special coffees, snacks, cold water and drinks right at our fingertips.

Each morning, Robbie was assisted by her husband, Jimmy Smithson. He loved entertaining and making us feel right at home as she served up one of her Southern gourmet breakfasts including the best eggs benedict, quiche, fresh fruit and homemade muffins.

Robbie was so helpful in suggesting a variety of fine eateries for dinner out and told us about the special Art Walk going on just a few blocks away in downtown Franklin. The antique, art and specialty shops were hosting numerous artists in front of their stores, and serving wine and champagne to their visitors. After eating our dinner, Gary and I walked through many of the specialty shops and enjoyed the amazing art. We were pleased to be able to converse with these wonderful local artists. The atmosphere was serene and romantic, with the fragrance of roses and other gorgeous flowers along the quaint cobblestone and brick sidewalks.

I enjoyed visiting and shopping in a number of shops that advertise with the Busy Bee each month, including Avec Moi, The Quilting Squares, Scarlett Scales Antiques, Roses & Rustics, Franklin Antique Mall, Country Charm Antique Mall, Rooster Tails, as well as several shops at Leiper’s Fork. We got a glimpse back in time on Saturday as we took in a few historic sites as well as a leisurely drive along the Natchez Trace Parkway. There is so much history and so many things to do in and around Franklin that you have to make several trips or plan a week so you won’t miss anything.

Did you know that Franklin’s Civil War history holds one of the saddest and bloodiest five hours of the Civil War? If you have children or grandchildren and they have not been to the Civil War battlefields or the historic homes touched during the war, then Franklin will be a great excursion. Follow along the Civil War Trail, which includes a battlefield tour that is narrated by Thomas Cartwright, internationally known for his knowledge of the Civil War. He takes you on a walk of the battlefield and recounts the steps of the soldiers during the historic Battle of Franklin. He will explain how it is the “blackest page in the history of the war of lost cause, and the bloodiest battle of modern times of any war.”

The Magnolia House has brochures to give you a little background history for your visits to the Carnton Plantation, the Lotz House, and the Carter House as well as other historic homes and sites that were important in Franklin’s history.

After shopping and touring, the weekend held another great surprise. We had the honor and pleasure to meet, dine, and visit with another wonderful guest. The Magnolia House had a special house guest who was a “Royal Chef’. David Woodfine was there while visiting and speaking at O’More College of Design in Franklin to promote his cookbook “From Kitchen to High Table, The British-American Edition” by O’More Publishing.

David Woodfine’s career included England HCIMA – High Steward at Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford, in England, Master of Oxford City Guild of Chefs, Butler to Sir Anthony and Lady Bamford (founders of JCB Diggers/Excavators) and Mr. and Mrs. Richard Hambro (well known in world of corporate finance as well as the breeding and racing of horses and their stud farm in England.) Mr. Woodfine had been a butler at Blenheim Palace to the Duke of Marlborough. While serving as butler throughout Europe, he served highly respected dignitaries such as President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton and often looked after royalty including His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales, and multiple heads of state. David said Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret was always one of his favorite guests at Blenheim, as was actress Joan Collins.

Woodfine has written a book on cookery, “From Kitchen to High Table” which he published two editions, and now has translated measurements and details so that it can be enjoyed in America as well. I was very excited when I received a copy of David Woodfine’s book on cookery, The British-American Edition, which I was very pleased to find he had signed for us. To listen to David’s stories of his experiences was very interesting and entertaining. He is now retired and hunts for antique treasures, particularly antique porcelain and silver.

Jimmy and Robbie, owners of Magnolia House, told me they had enjoyed Sally Struthers as a guest several years ago. Robbie said they were honored with a “Royal Chef” as their guest, but she thinks of all of her guest as royalty and tries to take care of them like royalty.

Once again it was time to head home. I left knowing God had placed us at a time and place that wasn’t just for the experience, but he had given us new friends, the best treasure of all.

By Maxine B. Jones, Ocoee, Tennessee