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Gillette Castle near Hadlyme is either Connecticut's most distinguished medieval castle or the largest backyard barbecue ever constructed. You decide!


 



 

 

The Victorian-era American actor William Gillette (1853-1937) created the stage role of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective Sherlock Holmes, and made a fortune playing in that role.

In 1914, Gillette realized a lifelong dream by beginning construction of his fantasy home: a castle on a hilltop which enjoyed a sweeping panorama of the Connecticut River, including the historic Hadlyme ferry, whose eastern terminus lies right beneath the castle's perspective.

Over five years and a million dollars later, the result was a supremely weird mansion of Connecticut fieldstone named "The Seventh Sister," complete with its own 3-mile-long excursion railroad, and a room designed to look like the sitting room at 221B Baker Street, Sherlock Holmes's fictional residence in London.

Inside the castle, on River Road in East Haddam, just north of the Hadlyme town line, Gillette gave vent to his passion for detail and exotica, bringing furnishings from around the world and specifying in great detail the form that was to be given to the intricately carved oak trim and the ingenious wooden door latches.

Today William Gillette's fantasy house is the centerpiece of Gillette Castle State Park. The narrow-gauge railroad is gone, but forest paths, picnic tables, and river vista spots have replaced it. Admission to the park and picnic grounds is free, but there is a fee to visit the hilltop castle.

—by Tom Brosnahan


Hadlyme Ferry

Hadlyme CT

East Haddam CT

Chester CT

Connecticut River

Connecticut Shoreline

Hartford CT

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Gillette Castle, East Haddam CT

William Gillette's ugly, eerie hilltop castle overlooking Hadlyme on the Connecticut River.

 

 

   
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