Searles Castle is one of my favorite wedding venues with so many beautiful photo opportunities for the wedding couple and party to take advantage of, from the Medieval stone bridges and walls, to the opulent iteriors.
Searles Castle is said to have employed the finest masons and woodworkers to construct the castle, and imported marble and artifacts from Europe to furnish it. Examples of the fine work are found in the carved oak balcony, and the marble fireplaces. Edward Francis Searles was born on July 4, 1841, In Methuen, Massachusetts. At the age of thirteen he went to work in a cotton mill to support his widowed mother and his brother. His love of art and music, later to be his hallmark, were in evidence early in his life. At the age of twenty-one he was teaching piano and organ in Bath, Maine.
In 1875, after an apprenticeship with a Boston firm, Searles became an interior decorator for the prestigious Herter Brothers of New York City. In 1881, he met Mary Hopkins, a Herter Brothers client, in San Francisco. Her husband, Mark Hopkins, part-owner of the Southern Pacific Railroad, had died in 1878. He left his wife an inheritance of sixty-one million dollars.
Mary Hopkins commissioned Searles to design the interior of her Nob Hill home, and to work on Kellogg Terrace in her birthplace of Great Barrington, Massachusetts. They were married on November 8, 1887 in New York City. He was forty-seven; she was about sixty-seven. From Mary’s death in 1891 until his own, Searles was involved in building projects in Methuen, Massachusetts, as well as Salem and Windham, New Hampshire. He died in 1920.
Searles willed the castle to his secretary, Arthur T. Walker, who died in August of 1927, leaving it to his brothers and sisters. They sold it to Mr. And Mrs. Frank Andrew of Methuen, Massachusetts, in 1930.The Sisters of Mercy acquired the castle in 1952.
Since then it has been used as a novitiate for young women entering the Sisters of Mercy; a retreat house; and administrative offices. Castle College held classes in the castle for over twenty-five years.
Because the building needed extensive repairs, Castle College moved to a wing of the Sisters Of Mercy motherhouse on the property, and the castle was closed for five years. During those five years, repairs were made to the roof and building. In 1991, in an effort to restore the interior of the castle, a “Decorators’ Showcase” was held. Through the generosity of those interior designers and contributions received over the years from many benefactors, the interior of the building has been refurbished. Since that time, the castle has been available to the public for social, cultural spiritual and business events.
In November 2001, the Sisters of Mercy contracted David and Linda Kolifrath of Salem, New Hampshire to organize and manage events held at the castle. At this time it was decided that operations would be expanded to include weddings and receptions in the castle courtyard in an effort to better utilize the facility, better serve the needs of the public, and to raise additional funds to further the charitable programs of the Sisters Of Mercy.
Searles Castle Wedding
If you’re searching for a setting with an elegance and style all its own, consider a Searles Castle Wedding. Imagine your wedding here at an authentic English Tudor castle nestled in the New Hampshire woods, high atop a 175-acre estate. You will begin your day with Bridal preparations in the Bridal suite followed by a spectacular Courtyard Ceremony. Guest will enjoy a cocktail hour with passed Hors-d’oeuvres inside the castle and in the courtyard. The festivities will continue with a Reception in our climate controlled Palladium-style Euro tent. Searles Castle at Windham offers that truly unique setting and the photo opportunities are endless.
The Bridal Suite
The bridal suite at Searles Castle, formerly the master bedroom, consists of a dressing room, parlor, private bathroom and sun porch. With views of the estate, that provide a sneak peek at all your arriving guests without them seeing you. Relax in luxury as preparations for the big event unfold. The groom’s room with its bathroom provides an excellent location for the groom and his entourage to get ready before they mingle with the guests.
The Ceremony takes place on the crescent-shaped walkway at the entrance of the courtyard surrounded by a crenelated wall. Propane umbrella heaters allow outdoor ceremonies from April through November Indoor ceremony options are also available for inclement weather or for off-season weddings.
The cocktail hour takes place inside the castle and in the courtyard as well. With a full bar, hors-d’oeuvres stations and grand piano, your guests can wander through the first floor of the castle in a romantic, fairy tale setting like no other.
The festivities continue under our beautifully decorated Palladium-style EuroTent with double glass French doors, chandeliers and Chiavari chairs. The tent is both heated and cooled and It has a full bath and oversized dance floor with staging for your entertainer.
This dazzling wedding is a perfect example of wedding photography leaning toward the bright and airy style. Please check out our entire bright and airy wedding photography portfolio.