Poplar Forest was in private hands until fairly recently. The home was occupied by many families over the past two centuries and underwent many changes long before historic preservation came into vogue. Restoration is still a work in progress and in many places the original fabric of the house is still in plain view. This is not necessarily bad. I found the partial restoration fascinating. We visited on a Sunday, but we were told that on weekdays crews of woodworkers, stone masons, etc. are on the job, even as tour groups step around them. I'd like to return on a weekday.
This is not exactly living history per se because there were no costumed interpreters, but our "plainclothes" guide was outstanding. In fact, everything was very nicely done...enjoyable and educational. Highly recommended to any armchair historian.
When not part of a tour group one may wander at will around the grounds. Entry fee includes use of a handheld GPS device that talks to you as you wander. A nice touch, though the interactive screen is pretty useless in bright sunlight.
We took advantage of a combination ticket good for admission to the D-Day Memorial in nearby Bedford.
Speaking of GPS, mine did not recognize 1542 Bateman Bridge Road which the Poplar Forest website gave as its address. Fortunately, TomTom recognized Poplar Forest as a destination and took us right to the front door (which turned out to be at 1567 Foxhall Drive!). Bateman Bridge Road, if it exists, was not in sight.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.