about the author

 

The Julia Company presents
Clent Coker, author, historian and museum director of
Barnsley Gardens Resort

When the public queues up at this peaceful refuge they just might encounter the keeper of Barnsley Manor: Author and Historian Clent Coker. In the historic Manor ruins & museum visitors stand silently, motionless while carefully listening to the highlights of the colorful Barnsley story: A romantic mystery embroidered by details of genteel living, the Civil War, strong willed women and even murder; the story appeals to them all.
Clent Cokers’ own life is inexplicably drawn into the fascinating account. His past is totally intermeshed with the history he has spent a lifetime to preserve.
During the Mid-1800’s his great-great grandfather had worked with Godfrey Barnsley on the construction of Barnsley Manor, and his great grandmother was born on the Woodlands estate just prior to the Civil War. As a young boy, Clent was inspired by her intriguing tales of life with the Barnsley’s who had lived a fairy tale existence in their castle in the woods.
It was while he had lived with his grandparents just across the mountain from Barnsley manor, that they would often visit the old Barnsley homestead, where he thoroughly enjoyed roaming the historic gardens and visiting with the last of the Barnsley kin. As time progressed, he had somehow felt a strong connection to the place and by the age of thirteen was determined to start gathering up the many elements of the complex Barnsley story and put it all back together again.
He would often walk the dirt roads of the country side and into the local villages to interview many of the elder residents who had once lived or worked at Woodlands writing down each of their memoirs. Through the years he traveled extensively, spending endless hours collecting and buying back hundreds of Barnsley treasures, ledgers, diaries, letters and photos.
Since the early 1950’s Clent has truly lived the story, researching every detail of the Barnsley’s and their unique surroundings, while also connecting with Barnsley descendents around the world.
The last of the Barnsley blood at Woodlands had passed from the scene in 1942; the remainder of the once fabulous landmark was soon auctioned by foreclosure. One of Clent’s earliest childhood memories was attending the auction with his family who purchased a number of the Barnsley keep sakes and many of the family papers. Over the next forty years, the estate fell into decay. Although its future looked very bleak, Clent Coker had a connection that could not and would not be broken.
For many years he had longed to see the old estate restored to its former glory. He had wholeheartedly encouraged its owners to allow such a restoration but several attempts to purchase and restore the property had proven unsuccessful. As Clent watched the historic buildings continue to crumble, he had still hoped to find a savior to keep the Barnsley story alive and to rescue his fantasy before it faded into oblivion.
The dream finally came true in 1988 when Bavarian Prince Hubertus Fugger purchased the property as a land and timber investment. Clent pleaded with the new owner to preserve the ruins of this great historic landmark, so important to his past and the very essence of Prince Fugger’s new investment. After meeting with Clent and becoming caught up in his stories, the Prince agreed and the project was soon under way, with Clent Coker, and the horticulturist Steve Wheaton along with a small crew of workers excavating the history from beneath fifty years of neglect.
Today, Clent is often referred to as the Barnsley storyteller. He has lectured to various organizations throughout the Southeast as well as corporate groups who travel from near and far to visit Barnsley Gardens Resort. His lectures include a number of other outstanding events of Southern history that a eager public seem to relish. During the presentations, one can learn about the Barnsley’s involvement with Georgia’s Cherokee Indian nation, the devastating war between the states, the turbulent days of southern reconstruction, and finally the raw hunger of the 1930’s American Depression.
Clent Coker is the author of “Barnsley Gardens The Illustrious Dream”, a 260 page, photo filled hard cover book that is now in its 10th print and has received good reviews. For the past decade, Clent Coker has been writing a series of screen scripts covering the unique Barnsley stories, to be presented for film productions.

Highlights of Clent’s stories have been featured in various publications, including Golf Digest and Southern Living.
He has appeared on a number of local and national television interviews, including the history channel.
Clent is available for lecture presentations and book signings for corporate functions, convention and travel groups, and other special interest events.

Please view our contact page for further information.