Medieval Castle in Connecticut - Gillette Castle
Updated: Aug 23, 2020
Welcome to Gillette Castle located in East Haddam, CT former home to the man who made Sherlock famous- William Gillette. Through his countless portrayals of Sherlock he made his fortune to build this massive home (and no, not through razors). He is the reason why you picture Sherlock as wearing a houndstooth hat and smoking out of a pipe.
Gillette also had a fascination for trains. He built a miniature train and railroad you could ride and it is said to have been ridden by the likes of famed actress Helen Hayes, our 30th president Calvin Coolidge, even Albert Einstein and many more.
When you visit Gillette Castle make sure to stop by the visitors center before you hit the castle. It is not only a great place for historical context so you can fully understand what’s what before going inside, it is also where you need to purchase your tickets. Please don’t skip this area and make the walk up to the castle just to realize you have to come all the way down.
Inside the visitors center there is a wealth of knowledge and background that you need to fully appreciate experiencing the castle. Please take 10 minutes to soak in all the info in a concise film as it is a must do as if you want to enjoy the castle. Also while you wait to watch the film you can peruse the visitors center as there are plenty of artifacts and history around. Including Gillette’s train which he and his guests would ride up to his home. Another great reason to support this museum is they are trying to raise the funds to be able to fully restore the train so we can all experience what it was like.
As you walk up to the castle don’t forget to take in the sites and views. Take note of Gillette’s ‘Grand Central Station’ along with the stone fence up the drive that is in the same style as the castle. Once you reach the top, soak in the breath taking views of the Connecticut River. Try to imagine William Gillette on his boat, the Aunt Polly, looking up and instantly being captured by the land.
As you enter the castle please take note of the stark contrast from the medieval looking outside to the warm and inviting inside. William Gillette had an eye for details and a penchant for drama and that is definitely highlighted in the way he designed his home. And yes, he was in fact NOT an architect and he completely designed every aspect of his home. This definitely caused him to run into some issues, but it is impressive nonetheless.
When you are inside please pay attention to the intricate wood carvings especially the doors. No two doors are alike. You will also see Gillette’s fascination of trains influence some of his designs as well as mechanical ingenuity.
I don’t want to give away too much on the castle as I hope you will come and explore it for yourself. If you do want more of an inside look, be sure to check out my video on the castle below.
On your way out I definitely recommend hitting the gift shop in the visitors center for a unique souvenir at a great price.
A big thank you to everyone at the castle for being so warm, welcoming and informative especially the gentleman who toured us around downstairs. He was amazing and so full of love for the castle it truly makes you appreciate it so much more. This place is incredible it is free to get on the ground so please enjoy come have a picnic and it’s only $5 to go inside the museum so I highly encourage you to come visit. It is such an enchanting place.
This article is in no way sponsored by anyone and are fully my own personal opinions. I look forward to visiting again soon.
Please let me know what you think about the castle and if you would like to visit in the comments below. Until next time, stay safe and…
Keep on Rocke-in’