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Reflections on Golden Pond: the best of Squam Lake

The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH
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The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH

The sun shone brightly on the White Mountains and Squam Lake glistened. We were enjoying the view from the terrace during Afternoon Tea  at the Manor on Golden Pond.

poster, On Golden Pond, at The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH
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“On Golden Pond” poster at The Manor on Golden Pond

 

 

Names of a few other places also make reference to the movie, “On Golden Pond,” for which the inn was named.

 

 

 

 

 

There’s the popular restaurant Walter’s Basin, named for the elusive fish, and the rustic Golden Pond Country Store.  Otherwise, the area is little changed from how it was then.

Walter's Basin, Holderness, NH
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Walter’s Basin, Holderness, NH

Walter's Basin, Holderness, NH
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Walter’s Basin, Holderness, NH

We had just checked into our room, named Wellington, a reference to the English country manor style of this elegant country bed and breakfast inn. There was also a spacious whirlpool tub on the other side of the room.

Wellington, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH
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Wellington room, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH

We browsed the scrapbook we found in the library and learned about the property as we sampled the complimentary sweets and savories with our tea.

library, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH
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library, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH

Soon aromas from dinner preparation wafted into the lobby.

lobby, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH
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lobby, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH

Chinese Checkers, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH
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Chinese Checkers, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH

jigsaw puzzle, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH
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jigsaw puzzle in the lobby area, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

salt and pepper chess set, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH
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salt and pepper chess set, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH

We were in Holderness, New Hampshire on the gently sloping Shepard Hill, one of the highest points around Squam Lake. Holderness was named for the Earl of Holderness, a friend of Governor Wentworth. The land was granted to John Shepard and others in 1751.

This stucco and shingle estate was completed in 1907 as a summer residence for wealthy businessman Isaac Van Horn and his debutante wife, Madeline. The Van Horns employed over 100 craftsmen from around the world to build a place to relax and entertain their Boston society friends. They added English gardens, a carriage house, a cottage, and tennis and croquet courts.

The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH
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The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH

Unfortunately, Madeline died in 1918. Isaac lost interest in living there, and his second wife preferred city life.

The property was sold to a mattress manufacturer from West Virginia. In the mid-1940s Life Magazine photography editor Henry Fowler bought it for use as a photographers’ colony.

Van Horn Dining Room, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH
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Van Horn Dining Room, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH

Subsequent owners operated the property as an inn and expanded and redecorated it. Fortunately, much of the original character, including original woodwork was retained.

green tile fireplace, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH
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green tile fireplace, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH

the billiard room, now part of the dining room at The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH
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billiard balls on a rack in the dining room, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH

 

 

The former billiards room, which now serves as an extension of the Van Horn’s dining room, has the original leaded glass and a fireplace with the green tiles for which William Grueby of Boston was known. A few reminders of the room’s former role have been retained.

 

 

 

There is a clay tennis court, heated swimming pool,  and lawn games like croquet.

tennis court, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH
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tennis court, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH

Current owners Brian and Mary Ellen Shields purchased The Manor On Golden Pond in 1999 to fulfill their dream of creating a luxurious inn known for personalized service.  They brought it back to its English country manor roots and added modern technologies and amenities, like the spa in the restored carriage house. Treatments options include local ingredients including pure maple sugar.

Ascot room in the Carriage House, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH
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Ascot room in the Carriage House, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH

Sandwich room, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH
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Sandwich room, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each of the 24 spacious guest rooms and suites is uniquely named and furnished. Many guest rooms and suites overlook the lake and most have private decks, porches or balconies.

plush robe at The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH
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plush robe at The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH

 

 

Ours had a large deck by the towering pines and was among those that have an oversized whirlpool tub with a view of the fire in the wood-burning fireplace or a video on the television. There were all the makings of a romantic weekend — plush robes, verbena-scented L’Occitane products, and a fireplace setup that made it easy to light whenever we pleased.

 

 

The Manor On Golden Pond is now one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, a member of the Select Registry, and has a AAA Four Diamond Award rating.

AAA 4 Diamond Award, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH
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AAA 4 Diamond Award, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH

Select Registry, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH
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Select Registry, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dining

Eggs Benedict is a favorite option on the cooked country breakfast menu. Fresh fruit, yogurt and granola are included in the cold buffet. Room service is available for those who prefer the privacy of in-room dining.

cold breakfast buffet, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH
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cold breakfast buffet, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH

Eggs Benedict, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH
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Eggs Benedict, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH

There’s lighter fare and cocktails at the seasonal Poolside Bar throughout the afternoon. Gourmet picnic baskets are available upon request.

You might want to stop with a drink at the piano bar, Three Cocks Pub. Many English pubs are named for a field or farm animal, and when previous owners discovered a painting of a trio of roosters onsite they followed suit.

painting at The Three Cocks Pub, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH
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painting at The Three Cocks Pub, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH

Three Cocks Pub, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH
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Three Cocks Pub, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH

The AAA 4 Diamond-rated dining in the Van Horn Dining Room reflects the elegance enjoyed by the Van Horns. The Chef’s Tasting Menu has wine pairing suggestions from the extensive wine list. The Manor on Golden Pond has earned the Wine Spectator “Award of Excellence” for the past 16 years.

Candlelit dinners with crisp white linens feature New American cuisine. You might begin à la carte with the Lobster Gnocchi with Enoki mushrooms or fire-grilled oysters followed by Manor Tournedos or Smoke-Roasted Duck. Dessert options include crème brulée or the torte of the day. Vegan menus are available upon request.

dinner at The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH
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Scallops appetizer, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH

salad, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH
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Manor Salad, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dinner, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH
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Roasted Rack of Lamb, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH

chocolate torte, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH
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Black Forest Torte, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The monthly Farm to Table “M” Bistro Supper Club is a 5-course prix-fixe dinner made from seasonal locally harvested organic ingredients. It is popular with local residents and sells out quickly.  A local winery or distillery is featured for pairing options.

Package plans are available.

cooking class, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH
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cooking class, The Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH

Fork in the Road weekend cooking classes are held on weekends and limited to six adult students. The professional chef teaches the culinary skills needed to recreate favorite dishes at home. Local ingredients are highlighted.

Intimate wedding celebrations, business meetings and executive retreats are also held here.

The Great Outdoors

Squam Lake is in the White Mountains and Central Lakes Region of New Hampshire. Landowners were concerned about the growing commercialization elsewhere and created the Squam Lakes Association to conserve the serenity of the area. Homes along the waterfront are concealed by trees to retain the natural beauty of the shoreline.

Squam Lake, Holderness, NH
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Squam Lake, Holderness, NH

loon on Squam Lake, Holderness, NH
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loon on Squam Lake, Holderness, NH

There are many outdoor activities to choose from in this beautiful setting, including golfing, tennis, biking, kayaking, horseback riding and hiking in state and local parks.

boats on Squam Lake, Holderness, NH
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boats on Squam Lake, Holderness, NH

The Personal Activities Concierge can help you select what best suits you, perhaps a champagne toast in a hot air balloon ride, a private tour with wine and appetizers in the Manor’s 70 year-old mahogany Chris-Craft, or a private wildlife tour. Sleigh rides, snowmobiling and snow shoeing are popular winter activities. Private lessons, tours and other activities can all be arranged prior to arrival. Here are a few other options.

Take a hike

Hike the popular 3.8 mile moderate Five Fingers Squam Lake Trail that juts out like a hand into the water. For a scenic overlook of the lake take the easy mile-long hike up Rattlesnake Mountain.

Allow a few hours for Beede Falls in nearby Sandwich. This 35’ wide waterfall plunges into a 50’ wide pool below. The water is generally knee-deep and a refreshing experience on a warm day. Cow Cave is below the lower falls and fun to explore.

Book a cruise

bald eagle, Squam Lake, NH
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bald eagle, Squam Lake, NH

90-minute Squam Lake Boat Tours in canopied pontoon boats depart from the Science Center. Complimentary use of binoculars is included for viewing wildlife like the bald eagles and loons.

loon, Squam Lake, NH
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loon, Squam Lake, NH

The tour shows that little has changed over the decades since “On Golden Pond” was filmed here. The marina still looks much as it did in the film scenes when the Thayers  (Fonda and Hepburn) stopped there for fuel and supplies and when Ethel (Hepburn), ran down the stairs for help in finding Norman and Billy.

marina, Squam Lake, NH
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marina, Squam Lake, NH

Trees conceal the Thayer’s cottage for the privacy of the current owners.

Squam Lake, Holderness, NH
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Squam Lake, Holderness, NH

Spoiler alert!

Much of the drama of the movie was a Hollywood creation. What was known as Purgatory Cove is actually a rocky area by the shore barely three feet deep.

“Purgatory Cove, Squam Lake, NH
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“Purgatory Cove, Squam Lake, NH

The sturdy Chris Craft boat had to be weakened to sustain damage when it crashed. And scenes of Billy zooming along on his own with the boat were filmed nearby on the larger and livelier Lake Winnipesaukee.

A Chris Craft boat on Squam Lake, Holderness, NH
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A Chris Craft boat on Squam Lake, Holderness, NH

Other area attractions

The Manor on Golden Pond in Holderness is also within an hour’s drive of top attractions like Castle In The Clouds, Franconia Notch State Park, Canterbury Shaker Village, Hobo and Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad, the League of NH Craftsmen, the Loon Center, Shop The Moultonboro General Store (c. 1781), Mount Washington Cog Railroad, Quechee Gorge State Park, and Barnstormers Summer Theatre.

 

 

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