Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Moseley Estate

That's where 'A' and I spent a gorgeous Tuesday afternoon. After dropping my mom off to visit with friends, we arrived at Maudslay State Park at two o'clock.

Quoted from the park brochure: From 1849 to 1870, Mr. and Mrs. William Ashby of Newburyport hosted annual literary parties at the Laurel Grounds. Guests included such famous figures as John Greenleaf Whittier, who composed several poems about the site.

Sing soft, sing low, our lowland river,
Under thy banks of Laurel-bloom

Softly and sweet as the hour becometh,

Sing us the songs of peace and home.

More than a century later the spectacular mountain laurel still graces the river's banks....

In 1805, the Moseley's, one of the wealthiest families in New England, settled in Newburyport. Seeking to protect this beautiful place, they began acquiring portions of the Laurel Grounds in the 1860's. The family continued to acquire surrounding lands and by 1900 had assembled a substantial estate, which they named Maudesleigh (later known as Maudslay), after the family's ancestral home in England.
The Moseley's bought the last parcel, the west side of Castle (or Laurel) Hill in the 1920's, from Katherine Tingley, who had staged Shakespearean performances on the site. Katherine Tingley's house was moved off the property. On the east side of Laurel Hill stood "Moulton's Castle", a twenty-two room wooden Gothic home built by Captain Henry Moulton. The "castle" was razed in 1900 when it was purchased by Charles Moseley.
In 1895, Frederick Moseley began converting a small farmhouse overlooking the river into a magnificent summer and weekend residence with more than forty rooms. Between 1939 and 1941, Frederick's daughter, Helen Jr., built a large colonial style house on a second river site. Neither structure remains today. The main house was demolished in 1955 after the deaths of Frederick and Helen Sr.; fire destroyed Helen Moseley, Jr.'s house in 1978.

Helen's House in 1975
'A' under the giant rhododendrons
The stables near the site of the Main House
View from "Castle Hill" site of Moulton's Castle
The route that 'A' and I walked (darkened line)


dickiebo said...

Skiving, eh? AND teaching 'A' bad habits!

deb said...

Huh??? You need to explain that comment.

dickiebo said...

Strolling around like Lady Muck when she could be earning a few shekels! lol.
There's too much of this 'enjoyment' going on!

deb said...

And you would deny her her one day off this week!?

Kippers Dickie said...

I notice you didn't fancy the 'Swamp Path'? A slight detour!
What I liked most of all about the map....was all the English sounding names and especially the scale... FEET.
'Balls' to metric..if you pardon my French!!!

deb said...

The swamp path is pretty overgrown, but gorgeous a few weeks prior with many azaleas.

Ultimately, I'd like to explore it all. (I do want to see what the kettle hole is and I want to explore the two graveyards and the Coachman's House area.) Back in the 70's things were a lot more manicured. It was a private estate although the owner had died. The caretakers were still keeping things tidy.

Hiking the trails around the Laurel Grounds area is tricky and we have yet to be comfortable there. We're always getting lost in the woods. There are more trails than what are on the map. That, combined with little to no trail markers, and well....glad it was a sunny day!

Andrew said...

I'm impressed you know about the castle, not many people do. I grew up working next to the park (12 years). I was good friends with the son of the groundskeeper for the Moseley family. I know all sorts of tid-bits about that place. In fact, I have some pictures of the castle. No one seems to believe me when I tell them it was there.

I've had a coffee on the castle's front steps, they are still there. ;)

I posted a few pics on my blog as well:

Andrew said...

Not to double comment, but I just added what I "think" is the only picture on the internet of the actual Moulton Castle:


deb said...

Okay Andrew, you've given me another exploration at the Moseley's - castle steps, huh.

Thanks for stopping at my blog, search it for other Moseley stuff, or visit again!

Andrew said...

Nice. Or you can look for the fairy garden, the grind stone, the silver vein (removed), the ferry landing, pet cemetery, bulb cellar, ship's water spring...


deb said...

35 years ago it was much easier to spot all the unique features of the estate. I miss the iron garden gate. Long ago rusted away and removed I guess. Of course when Helen's house was still there and I was free to wander the pre-park estate, ahhhhhhh.