On a dirt road, back away from site of any passerby, sits Newman's Castle. My family and I had the pleasure of touring this site over the weekend. Who would have thought that someone in Texas would build a castle as an actual residence?
The first step is to go onto http://newmanscastle.com/ and look around, get the phone numbers and then call to make reservations. Oh, and you will be calling the Newman's Bakery. See, Newman owns and runs the local bakery, and as a sneaky way of trying to get a little extra, he makes you call his bakery and meet at the bakery before the tour. We see you Newman, and salute the attempt. The smells in the bakery were very tempting.
After you make the reservations, you are supposed to call back the day before to confirm. Do not be surprised if they act like they are taking all your info again. It apparently is the common thing. They will also call you about an hour before the tour to confirm you are coming. The one thing to keep in mind here is that this was not set up as a touring destination in its beginning. He built it as a home, and chose a spot that no one could see from any road for a reason. But word got out, and he now enjoys having people come tramp along inside his home. I, I would not enjoy that many strange people in my home every weekend...
As stated, you must go to the bakery on the day of the tour to check in. The cost is very cheap, only $15 per person, with a lunch from the bakery included. It is nothing spectacular, a sandwich, chips, and cookies, cake, or some cake donuts. But, for the price, you get your monies worth considering.
Upon arriving, we were greeted by an Irish Wolfhound. This dog, we later learned was named Avalon after the mythical final resting place of King Arthur, was the friendliest dog, especially for a breed known for its protective nature. After a while, Mr. Newman himself showed up and not long after the show began.
It was very cold the day we toured, so the standing out in the freezing temperatures was grating on everyone. Kids were crying, adults were getting irritable alongside them, which made the speeches made by Mr. Newman a little trivial. He was trying to be a good host and put on a little imagination leaden story telling, but it would have been better served, at least on this day, once we were in out of the wind.
The working trebuchet was fired into the moat, which actually does encompass the entire castle. The best part of the trebuchet firing was watching Avalon get very excited and try to pull the pin himself. I think he had seen this before...
Once we were finally admitted across the bridge, another gentleman and myself got inside the hamster wheel to try to close the drawbridge. I am not sure if it was simply frozen, not greased, or what, but the two of us were not small gentlemen and had an extremely difficult time.
The castle is a residence, that is first thing you must keep in mind. However, it has 5 towers, a keep, a bell tower with giant bells (one weighing over 1200 pounds), a great hall, guest bedrooms, a very large kitchen, and even a small courtyard. All in all it is very impressive. It was not a corporation that built this for the purpose of making a return on the money; rather this was a guy that had a wild hair up his keester and decided to live in his own castle. He had no intentions of selling tours or anything of the sort at the time. He also, very impressively, built the entire thing himself, with only one helper. He designed it himself as well, based off of some research and the land he had.
It has also been featured in a movie, Indescribable an IMBD search http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2385111/plotsummary?ref_=tt_ov_pl
It was great to meet such an enigmatic man and tour his home, a one of a kind destination for any Texan.