Did you know there are royals living among us mere commoners in Austin County? Well, that’s not exactly true, but Mike Newman certainly lives like a king in a castle he designed and built outside of Bellville.
Newman’s Castle rises out of the woods on 20 acres. Built by Newman, the castle is made of gray cinder blocks and stucco. The regal medieval structure boasts a working drawbridge, a chapel, a grand dining room, an inner courtyard, a moat and 3,400 square feet of living space, including true king’s quarters with a four-poster bed.
What is now a popular tourist spot was originally slated to be Newman’s log cabin. He shared his plans for the cabin with a friend who, through an off-hand comment, unknowingly gave Newman the idea for a castle. Newman was hooked and spent the next two to three years researching and designing his dream castle.
“I always enjoyed European history and I had an opportunity to live in Europe in my early 20s and I always liked that lifestyle,” Newman explained. “I opted to do something from the middle ages - 11th, 12th, 13th century. They produced some massive structures that were built specifically for defensive purposes and I loved that architecturally and the story behind them.”
He broke ground in 1998 and spent eight years personally constructing the castle and also building the furniture and other wood features in the castle. As proprietor of Newman’s Bakery in Bellville for 32 years, he says he enjoys working with his hands and has experience in woodworking and construction, but not on the scale of the castle.
It’s an ongoing project he says, with a bell tower and additional guest rooms currently in the works.
“I’ve designed it and built it by myself so when you go through that much effort and energy, you don’t want to go to the local furniture store and furnish it. And it keeps a good consistency in it,” he said.
The purpose was to build himself a home, not a tourist destination, but after word spread about the castle and interest started building at first with the Harris County Precinct Bus Tour Program, Newman opened the castle to the public for tours.
“(The Harris County Precinct Bus Tour Program) provide day trips out of Houston to go to various areas and locations as a way for them to get out of town. For years they were stopping by (Newman’s Bakery) when they came to town looking at the bluebonnets and things like that,” Newman said. “Someone in the group heard that I was building a castle in the woods out here and wanted to add a tour out here to the tour package.”
Newman’s castle is now open six days a week for public tours and is also available for special events such as family reunions, weddings, anniversary parties.
“I do really enjoy when various church groups and Boy Scout troops come out and spend the weekend with young kids, so that’s an awful lot of fun.”
He’s hosted visitors from all over the country and the world. A German film crew taped a segment at the castle, which Newman said is played on German TV and recommends Newman’s Castle as must-see location when visiting Texas. He jokes that Germans, who have authentic castles all over their country, come to Texas to see his home.
Newman’s home really is a dream come true like a fairy tale, but he says it took “a spark of interest, the idea and the ability to do something about it and see the project through” to make it a reality.
For more information and to book a tour or event, visit http://newmanscastle.com or call Newman’s Bakery in Bellville at 979-865-9804.