“A JEWEL BEYOND PRICE” – NAULAKHA – A VERMONT TREASURE

“Did you know that…” Rudyard Kipling, who was the most famous author in the world, built his home, Naulakha, in 1892 in Dummerston (just north of the Brattleboro line) where he lived for four years. Here he wrote some of his most well known works: “The Jungle Book,” Captains Courageous,” conceived “Kim,” and “Just So Stories.”

Sometimes when it says “Private Property” we comply.

I have known about this hidden treasure on Kipling Road for some time, and have driven by and gazed at the property owned by Landmark Trust USA. I also knew that the Trust rented the home with seventy percent of its original furnishings owned by the Kipling family. Ever since my first drive by I have wanted to arrange a stay with friends (Naulakha sleeps eight) to relax, eat, read and visit. In June 2015, BLUE BELLE and I visited, taking this picture.

NAULAKHA – Dummerston, Vermont

For years I told a few friends that this would be a rare experience staying here, but other than seeing the Trust’s brochure, one has no idea what the home is like inside, or the grounds. In my travels I pick up literature, and free magazines, and a couple weeks ago I brought home from the grocery store UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE for May and June. There was an article about Naulakha, offering a “rare glimpse inside.” And, there at the end of the article was the box announcing “guided tours.” I called, and bought tickets for the tour and tea. Our visit was on 29 May.

We had lunch in Brattleboro, and arrived early to be on time for our 1PM tour. We wandered about outside, and here is his home, built to resemble a ship, ninety feet long and thirty feet wide. For privacy from onlookers from the distant road, the rooms are on the high side above facing east (sorry, forgot to take a view of the vistas east for you), and all hallways and stairs are on the entrance side to the west, as seen below from the carriage house.

Still on a dirt road, when Kipling built his home all trees in all directions had been removed for sheep herding. Looking out from the 100-yard multi-colored rhododendron tunnel is this view of the house.

and, looking down the tunnel

and, at the end is this wonderful stone pergola, just waiting for our picnic and lounging.

looking east towards the road is the first tennis court in Vermont. When Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes) visited, he brought skis to use here, and he and Kipling also shagged golf balls on these lawns

It was time for our 1PM tour given by the very knowledgeable Kelly Carlin, who has been with the Trust for 17 years. Her presentation, and easy reply to questions, exhibits an in-depth understanding of Kipling, his family, and the history of this property. With luck her knowledge and ease of presentation will be carried on by others in generations ahead. We started off in the dining room, with Kipling’s dining set (remember you can eat here), and museum quality sideboard.

The kitchen has this very intimate breakfast nook.

windows are placed to maximize light entering. There is a window from the kitchen that looks out to another window and to the carriage house. The outside window permits light to fill the staircase to the basement, but (and you can also see above on the left) also lets light into the spacious kitchen.

On the other side of dining room is Mrs. Kipling’s study. She handled most of the business for the family and her husband, and protected people from getting past to her husband’s study. I need to learn more about her in the book, “The Hated Wife: Carrie Kipling 1862-1939.”

 

Carrie Kipling’s study.

Rudyard Kipling’s study.

we then got to explore the second and third floors on our own. On the second floor are four bedrooms and three baths, and the third floor Kipling’s pool table and games and amusements.

And on the third floor,

There is so much you can learn about Kipling, and his time here. One good book to start with is Rudyard Kipling in Vermont by Stuart Murray. A family feud led to their departure (Rudyard Kipling’s Vermont Feud by Frederic Van de Water).

Abandoned, and left untouched for over forty years (other than by raccoons) the Trust purchased the property in 1991, restoring it, and opening it for short-term stays (minimum three nights). I asked Kelly, and learned that this was the second year they have offered these guided tours. “What a wonderful marketing venue,” I told her, “you should be able to attract folks who will then book a stay.” I think, and hope, it worked with the friends who joined me on the tour. Kelly also has a few school programs, and some other activities that you can learn about by spending time on the Landmark Trust USA‘s website.

RAY RECOMMENDS
1 – Learn what you can on-line about Kipling in Vermont, and his home. Here is one suggestion – The Literary Traveler 
2 – Read the books I mention above
3 – Study the Landmark Trust USA‘s website — and book a holiday at one of their magnificent properties.
4 – Read my monthly “Did you know that…” history articles in my newspaper – THE WALPOLE CLARION.

9:30 AM 2 June – just found this great article from the Kipling Society. This article is really comprehensive, all inclusive, and readable – I encourage you give it some time for the history. Note the additions that were made, and removed when the Trust found the original plans in the NYC architect’s office. Click on this link —  NAULAKHA AFTER KIPLING 

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3 Responses to “A JEWEL BEYOND PRICE” – NAULAKHA – A VERMONT TREASURE

  1. carolyn says:

    Perfect, Ray, you always recapture the wonderful, experience of an unexpected treasure. Thank you for sharing. Great pictorial tour.

  2. George Lush says:

    Buongiorno Ray, Naulakha reminds me or Mark Twain’s home in Hartford. Two things: the house was built “to resemble a ship” and the billiard table on the third floor. A popular story docents told about the Twain house was that it was built to resemble a Mississippi River steamboat. Like so many stories told at historic homes, it’s baloney. There is a most interesting book, “Death by Petticoat: American History Myths Debunked” by Mary Miley Theobald (available on Amazon, of course.) Ms. Theobald was (is?) an historian at Jamestown and puts to rest a lot of the tall tales docents are so fond of telling. The title refers to “the second most common cause of death” amongst women of the American colonial/Revolutionary War period. I heard the story told several times, lastly at John Adam’s home in Quincy, MA. Via con Dios, George

  3. Sue says:

    My favorite story as a child was “Riki Tiki Tavi”. I can remember sitting on the floor of my elementary school cafeteria/stage enthralled by reading by my teacher of the cobra and the mongoose! Thank you for sharing this adventure, Ray.

    Sue

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