The Story of Castle Gwynn, Home to the Tennessee Renaissance Festival
France, Wales, England – certainly. Nestled high in the Alps overlooking the moors of Scotland – absolutely. But turrets in Tennessee? Not likely, you say?
If that’s your final answer, then you apparently have never driven the scenic stretch of State Route 840 near Arrington and Triune, where a white stone and brick structure rises through the trees on the west side of the road. It looks strikingly like, well … a castle.
And, in fact, it is. It’s Castle Gwynn, a startling replica of a 12th-century Welsh border castle and the private home of Nashville-native Mike Freeman, a portrait photographer, and his wife, Jackie, a retired schoolteacher. It’s also the location of the annual Tennessee Renaissance Festival each May. Scroll through the photos below to learn some interesting information about Tennessee's very own castle:
Bartering, trading and even ending a relationship helped build the castle.
Freeman met a man named John Covington who became enchanted with his idea, and Covington made it possible for him to buy 40 acres of land near Arrington and Triune.
“He was kind of like the grandfather I never had,” Freeman says.
When he was ready to start building, he called upon Kenneth Canaday, a master mason from Hickman County he’d made a deal with a decade earlier.
“I dated his daughter in high school and asked him then if he’d help me with the fancy work on my castle one day,” Freeman says, grinning. “He said, ‘Yes, if you stop dating my daughter.’ So I did, and he did.”
With the occasional help of Canaday’s four sons, Freeman and Canaday spent two years of weekends molding 14,000 bricks into 60 arches in the castle kitchen. In return for their work, Freeman photographed all four of Canaday’s sons’ weddings.
“Mike does a lot of bartering and swapping trades,” says Jackie Freeman. “Nobody’s given him anything. He’s worked and bartered around the clock for all of it.”
With its brick arches, stained-glass windows and handmade tile floor depicting a coat of arms, the intricately detailed kitchen is the castle’s crowning glory. But it’s only the beginning.