I bet you were expecting an October post! I just wanted to see if you were paying attention. October will be coming. I thought I should go back and share some of our earlier dates that I still haven’t posted about. So before the year is out, you may find some other out-of-sequence posts.
I love exploring old buildings, touring houses and going to museums. What is the coolest kind of house you can imagine? An airstream? A mansion? A cottage? What about a castle?
Yup, you read that correctly. Complete with a moat and ocean views. If you think this can only be found in Europe, think again! Hammond Castle in Gloucester is just north of Boston. It makes for a great day trip. John H. Hammond, Jr. built the castle from parts and pieces of buildings from the middle ages, old castles and other assorted architectural components that he imported from Europe.
A bit of an eccentric man with a sense of humour, he liked to entertain. He would create his own weather inside his castle, and just at the climax of a scary story, you could look out to see fog and eerie light over the reflecting pool in his courtyard. One of the country’s most prolific inventors, his home is full of twists and turns to delight. Although I had never heard of him before visiting the castle, he invented such everyday items as remote and radio control.
This was a great date, quite different from what we’ve been doing in the past. We had beautiful weather for a visit to the coast. I learned (or brushed up) on a bit of history. Did you know that the building facades in the Middle Ages were decorated with patterns to indicate the types of merchant that might be inside? This allowed the mostly illiterate population to know what type of business was inside. A wheat motif might indicate a baker on the first floor. Vines and grapes above that – perhaps a wine shop upstairs. Each level of the building protruded more and more so the upper floors on either side of the street were nearly touching! One business could trade with the shop across the street through the windows, they would be so close to each other.
One of the most interesting aspects of Hammond Castle was how it reflected daily life and non-religious motifs across the centuries, combining different time periods and focusing on the average person, not just the wealthy or elite. Most of the castles and historic sites in Europe have a deeply religious focus – churches, paintings, decor. This castle was built to be lived in, not just to be looked at!
The grounds of the castle are also beautiful. We enjoyed looking out at the ocean, clamoring over paths through the woods and generally scampering about. Unfortunately, this is a seasonal place to go; they’re closed until next April. I hope you’ll keep Hammond Castle in mind when you’re planning your adventures for next year!