Planning a royally good day out in the Constitution State? From fairytale facades to crumbling caverns, here are some of the best castles in Connecticut that you can take a peek at.
Where are the best castles in Connecticut?
Also known as Castle Woodstock, Chris Mark Castle looks like it’s been plucked straight out of a Disney movie. The whopping 18,777-sq. ft property has eight bedrooms, nine bathrooms and seven floors, as well as towers, turrets and a moat with a drawbridge. Local millionaire Christopher Mark built and completed the castle in 2009.
The castle hit the headlines last year in 2021 when Mark (following an allegedly tricky divorce) famously slashed the asking price by $10 million to a bargain $35 million.
The American actor William Gillette, best known for portraying Sherlock Holmes on Stage, designed and commissioned this sprawling castle mansion in 1914. Inspired by a medieval fortress, the 14,000 sq. ft structure features a three-story tower, 24 rooms and an elaborate system of switches, trestles, bridges, turnouts and tunnels. Most interestingly though, are the secret panels and peculiar network of mirrors. Gillette allegedly installed the to spy on his guests.
The castle, along with its beautiful grounds, is open to the public today for a small admission fee.
Castle Craig is technically only part of a castle, but we’re not fussy. This lonely tower sits on the East Peak of the Hanging Hills, high above central Connecticut. Walter Hubbard, a wealthy industrialist, gifted the tower in the early 1900s. Inspired by the similar towers in France, Turkey and Scotland, Hubbard worked with the Olmsted Brothers to design the 33-ft watchtower.
Visitors can climb up the spiral staircase inside the tower for sweeping views over the City of Meriden and beyond. Since it sits right in the middle of the park, you’ll need to embark on a hefty hike to get there though.
4. Hearthstone Castle, Danbury
Once known as Sanford Castle, this crumbling castle sits on a small hill in Danbury. Photographer E. Starr Sanford built the mansion in the late 19th century as a summer house but only lived here for five years before selling it on. Inside, there are 16 rooms including a library, nine bedrooms, eight fireplaces (hence its name) and a billiards room. Visitors are no longer allowed inside the castle after years of vandalism, but you can get a peek of it from one of several hiking trails in Tarrywile Park.
Calling this gold-domed Gothic building a castle might be a bit of a stretch, but it does look like one. Set overlooking Bushnell Memorial Park, the Connecticut State Capitol first opened for the General Assembly in January 1879. It’s actually the third capitol building for the State of Connecticut since the American Revolution, though its undeniably the best looking. It took eight years to raise funds and built the new statehouse, made from marble and granite, then topped with a gold leaf dome. It wasn’t cheap either, costing more than $2.5 million at the time with an estimated replacement value today of over $200,000,000. The building houses the State Senate Chamber, Hall of the State House of Representatives and offices of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Secretary of the State. It’s been a national historic landmark since 1972.
If walls could talk, Hidden Valley Estate would have some great stories to tell. New York society couple, heiress Charlotte Bronson Hunnewell and Dr. Walton Marin commissioned the ‘chateau’ in 1925. In the past 100 years, everyone from Picasso to Oscar de Lar Renta has partied here. Katherine Hepburn was a longtime resident too. It features everything you might expect from a castle, including a winding driveway, 200-acres of rolling meadows and woods, stone walls and soaring towers.
Not many people know that New London has a castle, let alone one of the oldest in the states. Built in 1850, the Castle House also allegedly marks the spot where the British landed during the raid of New London in 1791. It’s seen better days, though its hilltop position, tiny turrets and battlement-inspired roof give you an indication of what it might have looked like in its heyday.