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Shirley Plantation

501 Shirley Plantation Road, Charles City, VA , 23030
804-829-5121     |
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Shirley Plantation has been a part of American history since 1613. The property and inhabitants have been participants in or witnesses to many bloody events in American history including Bacon’s Rebellion, the American Revolution, and the American Civil War. With this kind of past, there are bound to be a few skeletons in the closet. Shirley is known to have one ghost, Martha Hill Gifford, called "Aunt Pratt."


On Saturday, October 29,2011, a silent auction will be held for a paranormal investigation at Shirley Plantation. Win the silent auction and your group of 10 can hunt the grounds and outbuildings of this four-hundred-year-old plantation for spirits on a pre-arranged night of your choosing from 5:30 pm to 10 pm. The silent auction will be located in the 1730s Store House building and will be open for bids from 1 pm to 4 pm during a book signing with paranormal writer Beth Brown.

From October 23rd to 31st, thematic guided house tours feature tales of tragic deaths and mysterious happenings including stories about the family ghost, Aunt Pratt. Also on October 29th, guides take visitors on a journey to the family's private cemetery. During this trip, guests learn about mourning rituals and macabre tales from the Hill Carter family’s history. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended for the walk to the graveyard.

The thematic guided house tours and walk to the family cemetery are held annually, but the dates vary. Be sure to check out our calendar of events for full details

Paranormal Claims

Shirley Plantation is home to the haunted portrait of Martha Hill Gifford, known as "Aunt Pratt." No one knows how Martha Hill Gifford received the nickname “Aunt Pratt.” We are unsure why she is haunting Shirley. We do know that when the portrait of Aunt Pratt is not in the first floor bed chamber, mysterious moans, groans, and bumps can be heard. When the portrait is checked on, nothing associated with the noises can be found. Looking in on her in the morning, she is often found on the floor.

An early published account of Aunt Pratt’s antics appears in 1910 in the book, Virginia: The Old Dominion by Cortelle and Frank Hutchins. She has appeared in many articles and books since then including L.B. Taylor, Jr.’s The Ghosts of Virginia volume 1 and Beth Brown’s Haunted Plantations of Virginia. Aunt Pratt’s infamy also led to her inclusion in a paranormal exhibit in New York City sponsored by the Virginia Tourism Corporation. Aunt Pratt was unhappy being so far away from home and showed her displeasure by swinging wildly on the wall. This incident led to her being on NBC television.



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