The Crane Estate in Ipswich, Massachusetts, is comprised of three properties encompassing more than 2,100 acres. On this day, my focus was on the property known as Castle Hill – a National Historic Landmark upon which proudly stands The Great House.
The Great House
Sitting high above the Atlantic Ocean, The Great House stands majestically. Just as impressive are the 165 acres collectively known as Castle Hill. The incredible beauty of this location is continually displayed through the attention to detail. From the 17th Century Stuart style architecture of the 59-room mansion, to the rolling landscape and historic gardens, a visual feast exists. Expansive views include not only Crane Beach, but also the sandy shore of Plum Island’s Parker River National Wildlife Refuge across Ipswich Bay. It’s no wonder The Great House is a popular venue for weddings and corporate events.
The Great House is just as spectacular indoors as it is outdoors. In addition to period antiques, features include a grand staircase, a rotunda with painted ceiling, ornate woodcarvings and Italian marble. Needless to say, a guided tour is certainly not to be missed!
2012 Guided Tours Schedule:
May 23 – October 13
Wednesdays – Thursdays | 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Fridays – Saturdays | 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM (except July 4th)
Adults $12, Child $5 (8 years old min.)
Trustees of the Reservations Members: Free
The Grand Allée
Perhaps the most breathtaking landscape feature of Castle Hill is the Grand Allée. Measuring 2,060 feet in length and 100 feet wide, this “rolling carpet” leads visitors from the stately mansion to the scenic ocean vistas.
Statues & Accent Pieces
A stroll along the Grand Allée is never a lonely journey. The many statues standing tall along the way are always there to greet you and guide your way. Decorative accents adorn the walls and gardens.
Every detail and its placement has been carefully considered along the landscape. At the end of the Grand Allée, the ocean views delight. A cozy bench awaits your arrival, beckoning you to kick back, breathe in the fresh air, and enjoy the scenery.
Stone Structures & Outbuildings
In addition to the Great House, the Crane Estate at Castle Hill also features 21 outbuildings. Many of these buildings are attached to the stone walls surrounding the estate.
Step Into History
Clearly showcasing the estate’s historic past are gates such as these that seem to transition time before your eyes.
Hollywood Come Calling
Perhaps you’ve already seen the Crane Estate at Castle Hill without even realizing it. According to the Massachusetts Film Office, the location was used for filming on several well known projects that included “The Next Karate Kid” in 1993 and “The Witches of Eastwick” in 1986. Reportedly, a turn-of-the-century television pilot for ABC is currently being filmed there now.
Castle Hill is home to some diverse wildlife. From time to time deer and foxes my cross your path. Turn your eyes to the sky and a turkey vulture or red-tailed hawk may soar by. One thing I learned upon exiting the Crane Estate at Castle Hill is to keep an eye on the salt marsh and tall grass along the side of the road. You never know who might be a part of the scenery.
With an early spring knocking on our door, the grounds and gardens of the Crane Estate at Castle Hill will be flourishing before you know it. It’s hard to believe this was all built as a summer retreat for the Crane family back in the 1920s. If you’ve never been here, I suggest you add it to your list of “Places To Visit.” It truly is a sight to see.
~ Liz Mackney