Sherlock's In The House

Friday, July 11, 2014

Gillette Castle
As you drive around coastal Connecticut, you are frequently in the midst of colonial architecture. But if you happen to travel by boat down the Connecticut River you will probably be surprised to see something unlike anything you might expect to find in New England..............

Gillette Castle was conceived and designed by William Hooker Gillette. William Gillette (July 24, 1853 – April 29, 1937) was an American actor, playwright and stage manager in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He is best remembered today for portraying Sherlock Holmes, in fact, Gillette was the first actor to bring the literary character to life on stage. He actually portrayed him 1,300 times! He is also known for inventing the phrase, "Elementary, my dear fellow" which was later changed to "my dear Watson." His use of the deerstalker cap and the curved pipe became durable symbols of the character.

William Gillette 
Gillette Castle which sits on an 84 acre estate known as Seventh Sister is a 24-room mansion reminiscent of a medieval castle. Built of fieldstone supported by steel framework, it took 25 men five years (1914-1919) to complete the structure. The woodwork is hand-hewn southern white oak. There are 47 doors in the castle, each hand carved, no two being alike. Although the exterior appears hard and cold, the interior is more like an Adirondack-style cabin, albeit massive. It is really quite unusual and contains so many unique designs and features. Since I want to share a large number of photos, I don't want to take up too much space with detail, but I encourage you to use the links below to read more about both Gillette and his estate. In the meantime, come inside and have a look around.

Notice the carved latch found on most windows in the castle.

Mr. Gillette had a thing for trains. His miniature railroad was his personal pride. The train's layout was 3 miles (4.8 km) long, and it traveled all around the property, crossing several bridges and going through one tunnel designed by Gillette. (Wikipedia)

Pretty amazing, huh? This masterpiece was completed in 1919 for a mere cost of $1.1 million U.S. dollars. Gillette was quite concerned about it's well being after his death "since his will gave specific directions to see that the property did not fall into the hands "of some blithering saphead who has no conception of where he is or with what surrounded." This statement also points out the value Gillette placed upon his estate and the apprehension he felt about its disposition." In 1943, the Connecticut state government bought the property, renaming it Gillette's Castle and Gillette Castle State Park (Taken from website linked below).

If you enjoy hiking, the 84 acres is filled with hiking trails, ponds, and bridges.

If you'd like to visit the castle, it is open from 10:00-5:00 from Memorial Day - Columbus Day. Admission is $6.00 for adults and seniors. Tour guides are stationed in various locations throughout the castle, changing stations throughout the day. Our main tour guide, Paul, was outstanding and enthusiastic and really made William Gillette, aka Sherlock, come to life. As an added bonus to your visit, I'd also suggest taking the ferry from Chester, especially if you visit this summer when the main route is closed for construction. The ferry was $5 each way and is located just across the Connecticut River. The ride takes about 5 minutes and deposits you at the base of the park.



  1. This is soooo unusual, Gail! Mr Gillette certainly selected a gorgeous spot for his Sherlock house! The style and grounds are drawing me to see it this summer!!!!!
    What a great narrative, as always and perfect photos!
    Do you lay on the ground for some? Interesting angles!
    Thank you for sharing your adventures!
    Keep snapping and we'll keep living vicariously through your blogs!

    1. Thank you - and no, I don't lie on the ground. At this age, it's whatever I capture standing up straight, LOL. The massive size of this place just lent itself to great angles. A special place for sure!

  2. Absolutely breathtaking! Such incredible architecture, it just boggles the mind. I really need to put this on my bucket list!

  3. Your photos are amazing. I enjoyed your tour of the inside of the castle. Not at all what I expected from the look of the outside. I have several photos of the outside taken from the Riverboat that we rode on.

    1. Thanks Ruth! It is quite a place...surprises in every room. You'll have to go next time you visit Amy.

  4. Amazing place. You are right - not what I expected. Beautiful view, too.


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