The eerie film history of Castle Hill on the Crane Estate

The seaside property in Ipswich known as Caste Hill was a filming location for “The Witches of Eastwick” in the late 1980s.

An old brick mansion with a gravel driveway in front and blue sky in the background

The mansion at Castle Hill known as the Great House served as the exterior of the film’s “Lenox House.”

Photo by @selkiyang

There’s a mansion on the North Shore that’s witnessed the devil. Well, Jack Nicholson portraying the devil, anyways.

When shooting the supernatural 1987 comedy “The Witches of Eastwick,” filmmakers needed an opulent location to serve as the home of main character Daryl Van Horne — aka Jack Nicholson’s version of Old Scratch. They eventually selected Castle Hill, a piece of Ipswich’s historic Crane Estate.

Comprising of a near-century-old mansion — called the Great House — and 165 acres, the seaside property attracts tourists every year with its stunning architecture and topography. Yet few folks are aware of the estate’s eerie role in the film adaptation of John Updike’s fantasy novel.


Castle Hill’s grounds span 165 acres at Crane Estate.

Photo by @selkiyang

Castle Hill’s grounds and Great House appear throughout the movie as Daryl Van Horne’s home, where he woos a trio of local witches. If you need a refresher, they’re played by an enchanting dream team of Cher, Susan Sarandon, and Michelle Pfeiffer. The Great House’s elegant brick exterior offered the perfect stand-in for Van Horne’s “Lenox House.” For interior scenes, the shoot moved to Boston’s Boch Center Wang Theatre.

Here’s what you need to know before you visit the bewitching scene:

  • Ipswich is accessible via the Commuter Rail’s Newburyport/Rockport line.
  • Through October, the Great House is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. + the gardens and grounds are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-14. Admission is free for Ipswich residents on weekdays.
  • Trail maps are available for on-site hikes and nature walks.
  • Check the calendar for monthly events, like October’s Vintage Car Climb.
  • Pro tip: Seaside picnics are encouraged throughout the grounds.

Pro tip: Seaside picnics are encouraged throughout the grounds.

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