Moulton Castle – Newburyport, Maudslay Park
Growing up working on one of the oldest farms in America (run by the same family since the 1680s), my interest in local history was definitely the cause of some long-winded conversations with some of the old-timers. The farm was located adjacent to Maudslay State Park in Newburyport. In fact, the park itself used to be part of the farm before it was sold off to the Moseley family (Originally spelled Maudesleigh) around the turn of the century (1900s).
One bit of local history that always really interested me was the “Moulton Castle” that used to sit on what is now called “Castle Hill” in Maudslay State Park. To sum up, Henry Moulton was this civil war soldier. After the war, he came back and built a very real castle in Newburyport. I’ve known about it since I was a teenager, but every time I tell someone about it I always get the same response; “Yeah, right. A castle in Newburyport…”
Well, alas I have proof that I can share! A close friend of mine, and son of the farmer I grew up with, just gave me what may be the “only” remaining copy of this:
It’s a poem by Charles Clinton Jones about the castle. It must have been written and printed after the castle came down, but other than that I know nothing about it. I’ve looked online for years, trying to find some sort of documentation on the castle. Literally, you’d think I was searching for the lost ark. No one seems to know it ever existed. How has something this incredible just vanished in history. I mean come on, a castle in Newburyport!!
Here is the rest of the booklet:
One of the few pictures that exist of the actual Moulton Castle (I’ve seen at least two):
The poem by Charles Clinton Jones:
By Charles Clinton Jones.
It stood on a pine fringed hill-top
O’er looking the ancient town,
And the winding course of the river;
That turreted castle brown.
For more than a generation
It guarded the country-side,
The city and bay and islands,
And the marshes low and wide.
Grimly it stood looking seaward,
And when the day died out of the sky,
It saw in the gathering darkness
Plum Island’s twinkling eye.
A little more to the northward
Burning the night like coals,
Yellow and red alternate
The changing lights of the Shoals.
Full many a sailor scanning
The land with his searching glass,
Has seen along the horizon
That turreted hill-top pass.
And many a traveler turning
His face toward home again,
Wearied with traffic and travel
In the busy haunts of men,
Rejoiced to see in the distance
Those towers ‘bove the tree-tops rise,
Clear cut in the their somber beauty
‘Gainst the background of the skies.
And often in drive and ramble,
As we cast our eyes around,
A view of the brown old castle,
To our great delight we found.
When the two old bald-headed eagles
Return to their haunts in the spring,
At sight of if its rugged outline,
They quickened the eager wing.
And many a flock of swallows
In nests ‘neath the sheltering eaves,
Have gendered their broods of younglings,
And flown again with the leaves.
But now it is gone, and the hill-top
Is bare as the Tyrian stone,
While o’er it the breezes murmur,
And the night winds make their moan.
The sheltering pines about it
Their dark green branches toss,
Chanting a dirge-like anthem
For their own and the country’s loss.
The sailor and homebound traveler
Will scan the horizon well,
But never a sign will greet them
Of its ancient sight to tell.
The birds in the their springtime coming,
And their southward flight in the fall,
Will look in vain for its turrets,
And its brown expanse of wall.
And tho’ a far grander mansion
Shall take its place on the hill,
The picture of the Moutlon Castle
Will remain in memory still.
The back page with printer’s mark: C.S. Morse Printer
Just the back cover:
As of today, there is only an impression in the ground where the castle once was. I’ve had a coffee on the big stone front steps that are all that remain. If you look around the top of castle hill you will find them.
Other things about the castle:
- The chandelier from the front hall is hanging in my friends house
- There was a well with a miniature replica of the castle on the roof. It vanished when the castle was taken down. I’ve been looking for it since I was like 15
- After the war, for years Henry Moulton would send a ship into Boston to gather the men who fought with him. The would camp on the front lawn of the castle and celebrate for a couple weeks. From what I’ve been told by the family, they would fire off their guns and a canon while they party. I’ve even used a metal detector in “Bootleggers Field” and pulled out some musket balls. Cool stuff
Huge thanks to Connie Day for finding a link to the book “Moulton Annals“. Here is an image from it:
Great picture. I can see just where it was taken, and will probably go there soon and take a picture of what it looks like now.