Thursday, September 1, 2016

Hammond Castle and Salem Witch Museum

In 1969 Craig and I spent a summer in Boston. 
He was on a short term project, and our two year old daughter and I came along. While there, one of my friends and I took a "tourist" day trip to Gloucester to see the Hammond Castle. While not an actual castle, it looks and feels like one, and has many elements that were once parts of European castles.

It was built by John H. Hammond (not of the Hammond Organ family) in the 1920's both as his home and as a museum to showcase his collections of Roman, medieval, and Renaissance artifacts.

When I realized our travel route would take us near, I booked a few days in Gloucester so that Craig could visit it with me.

Our timing was just right, in that we arrived just a few minutes before a guided tour started. 

The front door is indeed accessed by going across a drawbridge, but there is no moat.

The great hall is huge and medieval, but has several modern amenities, such as a heating system, hidden behind the curtained  and stucco walls. Still it is quite a "living room"!

The pipes for this organ are also hidden in the walls and above in the ceiling space. It is no longer functioning, but when it was the entire room was part of the organ.  It must have been amazing. 

There were fascinating details all around, both inside and out. Mr. and Mrs. Hammond were quite a pair, at a time when rich characters built huge private homes. We are glad they still exist, and have had many enjoyable tours all around the country.

Hammond Castle, image from the web

We left the castle about 1:30 PM, and decided we still had plenty of time for a second "tourist" stop.  Salem, the location of the 17th century witch trials and executions, is only about sixteen miles away from Gloucester. I had picked up a promotional flyer for the Salem Witch Museum, and although we knew the history, and thought it might be hokey, we couldn't pass it up.

No photography was allowed inside, so the above is my only picture. The museum is does not have self guided, walk through exhibits. Instead it has two presentations.  For the first, your group were led into a darkened room with seating on both sides, and benches in the middle area. We were told by the guide that the presentation will move around the entire room, and we should feel free to change our seats as it progressed. Then the guide left, and a recording took over telling the story of the Witch Trials as life-size dioramas were illuminated one by one. It brought to mind a static Disneyland ride, or a series of wax museum displays.

The second presentation was in another room and differed in that the descriptions were given by a live guide, followed by a soundtrack for each diorama.

[From Craig] The second presentation divided events related to witchcraft into a "Western timeline" and a "Pagan timeline".  Lots of events were classified strangely, like building the Egyptian pyramids was western. Pronouncements by four Popes were on the pagan timeline, while in the same general time frame, John Calvin was on the western timeline.  I know Massachusetts was settled by Puritans and remains fairly Protestant, but classifying Popes as pagan is a bit much!  :-)

I think it was all reasonably well done, and the modest entry fee of $9.50 for seniors was just about right. The amazing thing was the town parking garage only cost $1.50 for 2 hours. When was the last time you saw a paid parking building with that rate?

We drive again on Friday.  One of the things you really must do if you are a full time RVer is have plans and reservations for holiday weekends. In June I started looking for a reservation on Cape Cod for the Labor Day weekend.  No luck, so we booked a few days at a park in Rhode Island.  It is one of the last states on the East Coast that we have not yet visited.


  1. This place is on our list, just moved up a few spots:)

  2. Amazing header and story. You are right about having reservations for this weekend. We made reservations and planned the rest around them.

  3. More bucket list items. Never heard of Hammond Castle or the Salem Witch Museum before. Thanks!

  4. We did some interesting witching stuff there in Salem about 20 years ago with another couple who were really into that witchcraft stuff, it was a fun time.

  5. interesting, I would maybe like to live in a castle.

  6. Holidays are always a problem when you are looking for a RV park.


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