where wonder happens
Castle Hill on the Crane Estate
northeast Ipswich, MA
165 acres

Experience the grandeur of a seaside estate and its marvelously landscaped grounds, notable for a broad, undulating lawn running down to the shore.

What makes Castle Hill a special place?
Centuries before becoming a grand summer estate owned by one of America’s wealthiest families, Castle Hill was well known by Native Americans, who called the area Agawam, referring to its rich fishery. John Winthrop, Jr., son of the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, laid claim to Castle Hill in 1637. For more than two centuries, a succession of owners farmed the land. Beginning in the 1880s, J. B. Brown transformed Castle Hill Farm from an agricultural holding into a gentleman’s farm, improving roadways and plantings and renovating his modest farmhouse into a rambling, shingle-style cottage that is now The Inn at Castle Hill.

In the decades following Richard T. Crane, Jr.’s purchase of the property in 1910, Castle Hill came to exemplify the American Country Place Era with its farm and estate buildings, designed grounds and gardens, and diverse natural areas. The Cranes hired some of the century’s most notable architects and landscape architects. The first house built atop Castle Hill, an Italian Renaissance Revival villa designed by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, was razed and replaced in 1928 with the 59-room Stuart-style mansion designed by architect David Adler you see today. The Great House is furnished with period antiques.

Castle Hill is also home to a wide diversity of wildlife typical of northeast Massachusetts forests. Deer, fox, turkey, and a multitude of songbirds can be observed from the many trails and roads on Castle Hill. In addition, Castle Hill is home to several pairs of nesting great horned owls and red-tailed hawks. Due to its location on the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent Crane Beach, unusual species such as turkey vultures, migratory hawks, and even an occasional bald eagle can be seen soaring above the landscape.

Four miles of trails and roads. Moderate hiking. Castle Hill is a link in the Bay Circuit Trail.

When to Visit

    • TOURS
      • Self-guided tours of the first floor are free with entrance to Castle Hill on days Great House is open.
      • Guided tours are available first-come, first-serve at an additional cost. See "Plan Your Visit" for our tour offerings and schedule, or check out "Things to Do". Last tour leaves at 3 PM.
    • HOURS
      • The Great House is open between 10AM-4PM on the days listed below.
      • Apr 13 – May 19 Weekends only
      • May 21 – Oct 27 Tuesday through Sunday, except August 3-4 (Roaring Twenties Lawn Party - advance tickets required)
      • Nov 9 – Mar 1, 2020 Weekends only except during special events where advance ticket sales are required
      • Dec 27 – 31 Holiday Week Tours

      Holidays open: Patriots' Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and Presidents' Day

      Holidays closed: July 4, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving, Christmas

    A wide range of public programs are offered throughout the year; please visit our events calendar for upcoming programs. Allow a minimum of 2½ hours (including Great House and Casino Complex, 6 hours if also visiting Crane Beach and the Crane Wildlife Refuge.)


    • Public restrooms are available in the Great House (open during tours).
    • Grab & Go refreshments are located in the gift shop and are available on days the Great House is open. 
    • The Inn at Castle Hill offers overnight B&B accommodation.
      • Open daily year-round 8AM to Sunset.
      • Closed at 5pm for special events Fridays and Saturdays May 1- October 31, and, May 26, September 1, and October 13
      • For guided tours and other outdoor programming please visit the Crane Outdoor Adventures Program
    • Summer Camp
    • Regulations & Advisories
    • Programs
    • History
    • Private Functions
    • Conservation & Stewardship
    Announcements & Alerts

    All commercial photography must be approved in advance. Please see Regulations & Advisories for more information.

    Check out our self-guided landscape and garden tour smartphone app! Look for “TourTrustees: Castle Hill” in your favorite app store.

    Come see TunnelTeller, an Art and Landscape installation by Alicja Kwade at Castle Hill.
    More info >>

    Learn about the Allée restoration project: A Grand Undertaking

    Dogs are not allowed at Castle Hill at any time. Service dogs are allowed in accordance with state regulations.

    The Hike Trustees Challenge
    Take our Hike Trustees challenge and see just how far you can go. Get outside, win prizes.
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