A visit to old Luknow, "The Castle in the Clouds"
"A last minute decision."
We were supposed to go to Horseneck Beach, near Westport, MA; but as I sat there clesning out a basket of brochures, I ran into one thet advertised "Castle in the Clouds". I remember having had it pointed out while boating on Lake Winnipesaukee, in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. "Mom, do you want to go to The Castle In The Clouds?" "Sure". So, by 9:45 am we were on our way on this 120 miles jaunt up Route 93, 104 and 95 to from Sudbury, MA to Moultonborough, NH.
Sitting on top of the Ossipee Mountains on 5500 acres of breathtaking scenery, overlooking the lakes and sorrounded by lilacs, which make you dizzy with their exotic fragrance, sits Luknow. Built by William Plant in 1914, for the then incredible sum of one million dollars, later renamed "Castle In The Clouds", the structure's every window allows breathtaking views of the sorrounding woods and lakes.
The first stop is at the main entrance, where adults pay $15, youth 7-14 pay $5 and children 6 and under are free. Seniors pay $10. (You may drive up to enjoy the view, go to carriage house and the gift shop and hike any of the 45 miles of trails for a mere $5, without access to the castle proper.)
The second stop is Falls of Song, where a 200 feet path gives you acces to the 100 feet amazing waterfall, along the Brook Walk trail.
Before reaching the Carriage House, there is a scenic overlook, with panoramic views of Lake Winnipesaukee and the Lakes Region.
The Carriage House, a five minute walk from the castle, houses a lovely Cafe with a very reasonably priced menu. (I had an open faced prime rib sandwich for $10 and mom had baked haddock for the same price.) It also houses the Visitor Center and restrooms. A few steps away you find a charming gift shop.
There is a shuttle that takes you from the Carriage House to the castle, with an introduction on the shuttle and another at the castle prior to your self-guided tour.
The wood and stone structure of the Castle is relatively humble for a castle, but for 1914 it had ammenities that one would consider a luxury even today: Intercom system; central heat and air; central vacuum system; dumb-waiter to the kitchen; needle showers, etc.
"Inside the Castle."
On the first floor you visit the great hall, the largest room in the house, where a beautiful Aeolian Organ sits, which could be played manually or mechanically. . The architect provided room for this organ in the original plans for the house. The air chamber for the organ is a large room below and behind the visible pipes, the echo chamber is in the attic. The visible pipes are purely ornamental, while those that function are completely hidden. When played, the organ created such volume that the sound could be heard from boats on Lake Winnipesaukee. The library houses a collection of several hundred books of which many were first editions. Of interest is a large collection of books on Napoleon, Mr. Plant's hero. (Mr. Plant stood at 5 feet.) It also is adorned with a gold marble fireplace. The room also has a door to a "secret room", Mr. Plant's hideway reading room. The servants hall; the kitchen with it's buitler pantry and cook's pantry; the sun parlor and the dinning room, are all on the first floor. The dining room is octagonal in shape, with a star-patterned hardwood floor, it seated twelve people. The room has three large windows, all with amazing panoramic views. The first floor also houses Mr. Plant's office, where there is a suit of armor said to have been worn by Mr. Plant at parties. Additionally, there is a coat room and a guest chamber with a bath that contains a needle shower.
The grand starircase in the library leads to the second floor. There is also a servant's staircase from the kitchen to the second floor leading to the servant's rooms. The second floor has the master bedroom with his and hers dressing rooms and his and hers bathrooms, with a second needle shower. There are also two guest chambers with a large bath, a trunk room, two large balconies, an attendant's room (a sewing room as a seamstress came in seasonally to make Olive Plant's garments), a boudoir, a dressing room and two maid's rooms with a maid's bath.
Of note is the "buit-in" storage, the harwood floor patterns as well as Mr. Plant's exercise equipment suspended from the ceiling in the hallway outside the master bath. "rondels" can be found in many windows and doors. There are seven skylights which do not open directly to the outside , but allow for filtered daylight through exterior roof skylights. The castle also has a laundry room with heated drying room, brine cooled refrigeration unit and a safe for painting storage.