When researching things to do in New Hampshire, I continued coming up short. Even Hubby, who can usually find a handful of options in form of food and entertainment, was having difficulty.
The only place that peaked our interest was Castle in the Clouds.
I’ve been a fan of castles since I purchased my first* copy of King Arthur and His Knights.
*I realize the word ‘first’ here implies that I am hoarding copies of this book somewhere in my home. I’m not. However, after purchasing this book, I read pretty much anything King Arthur-related I could get my hands on.
Who doesn’t occasionally fantasize about what it would be like to live in a castle?*
*Please, please tell me you do!
In fact, I am pretty certain there was one point in my young adult life that I researched castles for sale in America.
They were just a little out of our price range.
The Pebble, just a rock among trees
As we entered the front gate, it quickly became evident that this estate hidden in the forest held far more than we expected.
A short drive brought us to a small parking lot across from a short trail leading to the Falls of Song.
After enjoying the falls, we went back into the car and up the one way road to the castle.
You know those movies where a large car is driving around a mountainside and the edge is super close and the drop is super long?
That’s what this drive felt like.
My heart was in my throat the entire time.
Except for the times when I reminded Hubby to drive slow.
I call this: Scenic View in Charcoal Hue
Another small parking lot led to a scenic overlook where the seemingly never ending view of trees and lakes spread out before us like a work of art.
Having already experienced quite an adventure thus far, we reached the Carriage House uncertain of what else lay in store.
From the Carriage House we took a trolley up another private road to the Lucknow Mansion.
On first glance, I thought, “Okay, um, not at all a castle.” But as we toured the property, learned its history, and visited the rooms inside, I realized this was not only a castle, but it was Thomas Plant’s kingdom, made to his specifications, born to be his legacy on this earth.
To hear the story of boy from a poor family who came to own, not only his own business, but the largest shoe factory in the world, fascinated and inspired me.
Thomas Plant sold his business to United Shoe Machinery Company and retired as a millionaire at the age of 51. It was then that he bought the land that is the Lucknow Estate, a Castle in the Clouds.
The servants’ dining room
Downton Abbey comes to mind
The windows throughout the house don these roundels hand-painted with local views of lakes, waterfalls, and wildlife.
Yeah, Plant had one of those.
He also had a secret room, which pretty much makes him my hero. When the door is closed it flushes with the wall making the room unrecognizable. Though they don’t know exactly how Plant spent his time here, from its surroundings, I bet Plant used it as a place to be alone with his thoughts, a good book, and music.
Everything in the home was built according to modern specifications that Plant set. This fireplace was fashioned in a way so that Plant could watch the ashes rising as the snow outside the window was falling.
From our first floor tour, we stepped outside to enjoy their “backyard” view. If we hadn’t just come from PEI, I might have found it to be the most perfect view ever.
It was pretty wonderful though.
Who is that cutie in the background?
The second floor held as much impressive architecture design and creativity as the first.
This is the view from his wife’s bedroom.
I need a view like this in my life.
I think it suits Hubby, too.
The breeze carried from the open windows of the second floor was incredible; the views were something of fairy tales.
Within the 6,300 acres of Plant’s original property are natural springs which today are used to produce Crystal Geyser water. At one point in time, when they were still part of the estate, the tour continued to the springs.
I want to be shocked by the fact that Plant had exercise rings hanging from the ceiling, but, Hubby has a pull up bar mounted above a doorway in our upstairs hallway, so this isn’t anything new.
What is most interesting, though not surprising, is the stark difference between the servants’ quarters and Mr. and Mrs. Plant’s personal bedrooms and sitting rooms. Though they shared the glorious view of the land, there was space for a bed, small dresser, desk, and nothing more.
What hit me hardest about this place, was not the masterful architecture, nor Plant’s massive fortune.
It was his end.
Despite the small fortune* Plant acquired in the sale of his business, it seems he made poor business decisions repeatedly for the rest of his life. The estate had only been fully completed a few years when Plant made attempts to sell the estate due to his inability to afford it.
*Though it certainly was no small fortune during his time.
At the end of his life, his wife had to ask friends and family for money to pay for his funeral.
It’s hard to imagine how one could have so much, yet in the end, truly so little.
Castle in the Clouds
Rt 171, 455 Old Mountain Road
PO BOX 687
Moultonborough, NH 03254