A Visit to Kipling's Naulakha

October 6, 2014

(by Louis F. Sander)

[October 26th 2014]

Naulakha is on a narrow country road in the village of Dummerston in the U.S. state of Vermont. It is about 5 miles from Brattleboro, a town of 12,000 people. The property is owned by The Landmark Trust USA, whose mission is to rescue and rejuvenate historic buildings. The house sleeps eight people, and can be rented by visitors on holiday. An adjoining former carriage house sleeps four, and can be separately rented. When the properties are not rented, they can be seen by appointment only.

I have been a Kipling enthusiast since the late 1970s, and when I needed to travel to the adjacent state of New Hampshire. I made arrangements to visit Naulakha. The staff of the Trust was very accommodating, and the Executive Director was willing to give me a half hour tour of the property. After the tour, he encouraged me to wander the grounds and make myself at home.

I took almost 50 digital photos of the interior and exterior. Please feel free to use them in any way you would like, including publication. Here are my explanations of the photos, which are numbered in the sequence in which they were made.

Louis F. Sander
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

The photos are as follows

(click on the thumbnails for the full picture)

1. View of the carriage house. A barn is down the lane to the left.

2. The lane to the barn.

3. The Executive Director leading me up the front stairs of the main house. The house is in very good condition. It was completed in 1893, altered after the Kipling’s left in 1896, and restored by Landmark in the 1990s to its original condition.

4. Modern-looking windows, to the original design, though without shutters

5. The dining room. The sideboard was a wedding present to the Kiplings, who were married in 1892, the year before they moved in to Naulakha.

6. The kitchen. There are modern appliances and a stainless steel sink, but the cabinets, etc., are original.

7. The breakfast room. The chair in the foreground was recently re-caned by a local specialist.

8. The bread box, an original.

9. The desk in Carrie Kipling's room, not the original, but in the same position, on the way to Rudyard’s study.

10. The sideboard was a wedding present.

11. Kipling's study, a complete set of the Outward Bound Edition and other works by Kipling himself and other writers.

12. Another view of the study.

13. A view out the study window. This is a typical New England view – low, rolling mountains, covered with trees and largely uninhabited. The leaves change color in October and are quite a draw for tourists. They are about a week shy of their peak beauty right now.

14. A bed-room.

15. A bathroom for guests, installed since Kipling's time.

16. Another bed-room..

17. A shower. I couldn't figure out what all the controls were for. One of them said "Needle", which must mean a sharp needle jet. State of the art in its time.

18. The billiard room on the top floor. Kipling was a friend of Mark Twain, who had one in his home. Visitors are welcome to play pool here.

19. A view from outside. The green meadow rolls downhill to a line of trees. There is a tennis court at the bottom to the right. It is said to have been the first tennis court in Vermont.

20. Another view of the meadow and the woods.

21. New England is full of stone walls. There are rocks and granite everywhere, just below the surface of the ground, and often rising above it.

22. This is a Rhododendron tunnel, composed of two sections, each maybe 50-100 feet long. It is very beautiful in the spring. Such tunnels are rare in the U.S. – I had never seen one before.

23. This pergola stands at the end of the Rhododendron tunnel. It has a somewhat other-worldly aspect, pergolas being uncommon in the U.S., and this one being in the middle of the isolated New England countryside.

24. Another view of the pergola. Note the numerous leaves on the ground. This is typical of the Northern U.S. in October.

25. The tennis court is easily seen from the pergola. Behind the tennis court is Kipling Road, from which one can see the house. There is a small iron gate at the entrance of the drive to the house, with a sign discouraging visitors and trespassers.

26. A stone picnic table next to the pergola.

27. The woods adjacent to the pergola. Another house cab be seen on the right. Note the many ferns in the woods. There are a lot of them in Vermont and New Hampshire.

28. Another view of the tennis court.

29. This is a telephoto view of some ropes or something similar that can be seen from the pergola. My companion and I wondered what they are. They don't seem to be fences, and from a distance they look like pale gray ropes. Very mysterious.

30. They are tubing for a maple sugaring operation. In former times each tree had a tap, and the maple sap would drain into buckets that were emptied by hand. The modern way is to connect the taps through a network of plastic tubing. This one seems to connect a dozen trees or so, and I couldn't see how far beyond that it extends.

31. Close-up view of the tap in a tree. Very high-tech. Vermont is a leading producer of maple syrup.

32. The pergola as viewed from below. It was easier to exit the woods on the downhill side.

33. Naulakha from the South-West. The copper flashing on the roof is common in New England. The roof to the left covers the front door, and it is easy to envision Mrs Kipling's carriage being brought up there from the carriage house, visible on the left. Kipling described the house as like a ship—long and narrow.

34. A longer view of the house. There was once a swimming pool on this part of the property, fed by water coming down the hill to the left.

35. Nice rocking chair on the porch. Some of the chairs in the house are rare items from Keene, New Hampshire, not far away.

36. More high-quality canework.

37. Closeup of the canework.

38. A very nicely-made picnic table outside the carriage house.

39. View of the main house from the carriage house. The car belongs to the housekeeper, who lives off property.

40. Another view of the house.

41. Pretty architecture. Simple and attractive.

42. More of it.

43. The driveway, heading out to the main road.

44. It is covered with fallen pine needles. Nice fragrance.