Colby Hill Inn

33 The Oaks St. P. O. Box 779, Henniker, New Hampshire 03242
Innkeeper(s): Mason & Cynthia Cobb, Owners

November....Looking Back and Prelude to the Holidays! 21 Nov 2014, 11:20 am

November is such a turning point for us here at the Inn.  The weather can be a mystery---snow one day and 60 degrees the next with leaf peepers and then leaf raking.   And so we end one season and begin another!  Of course now we are getting our first burst of cold weather and Pat's Peak Ski Area (just 3 minutes from the Inn) area opens on November 22 for skiing.

 Earlier this month, we hosted the member innkeepers from Passport to New England here at the Inn.  This is always a terrific opportunity for us to review our past year together and talk about our plans for the coming year.  We have a great level of respect for each of the innkeepers in this group and we come away with some terrific new ideas.  Lastly, we always enjoy great food and wine together too!  If you are planning a visit to New England check out the Passport website and make plans to visit our friends at the other inns for a classic New England experience.

This week we are preparing for Thanksgiving next week.  This is always a favorite holiday for us and our team.  We enjoy serving our guests a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner with lots of choices, including a traditional turkey dinner and seeing family and friends come together.

Our chefs and entire team do an amazing job of taking great care so everyone has a wonderful holiday.  Kudos to Chef Jim Bicknell who does a terrific job creating our menus and managing our kitchen.  The reviews have been terrific!  We are always grateful to our team and our guests for entrusting us with this special day.

We've stocked up on firewood and the fireplaces are crackling away as we welcome our guests each afternoon.  Oh, did I mention the house made cookies that our amazing assistant innkeepers, Mary and Danielle bake fresh each day?  We're known for our freshly baked oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip cookies --always ready for your  arrival.

Plenty of activities happening in New Hampshire over the next month or so.  Skiing at nearby Pat's Peak and  Mt. Sunapee, plenty of Craft Fairs, Cut your Own Christmas Tree and beautiful ornaments (right here in Henniker) at Forsters Christmas Tree Farm, the Gift of Lights at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and of course our amazing TAX FREE outlet shopping.  Be sure to check out our two favorites,  Tanger Outlets in Tilton or The Premium Outlets in Merrimack both offer outstanding value including favorites like Nike, Jones New York, Coach, Pac Sun, Loft Outlet and many, many more.  Take care of your holiday shopping in one visit to New Hampshire.  If you're staying with us, be sure to ask us for your voucher to receive a complimentary coupon book.

Enjoy the holidays and we hope to see you soon!

Ocean Born Mary-a Henniker, New Hampshire Fact or Legend? 17 Apr 2014, 8:39 am

At the Colby Hill Inn here in our little village of Henniker in New Hampshire, we are often asked about Ocean Born Mary and the Ocean Born Mary House.  What's the real story everyone asks? Where is the house, how do we get there ? Did she really live here and was there buried treasure?'s complicated.  In some ways, parts of the story are a brilliant marketing hoax invented by someone who wanted to make a buck.  In other ways, well--who doesn't love a good pirate AND buried treasure story with a little evidence tucked away in a museum?

Off the coast of Boston in 1720, Elizabeth Fulton and her husband James, Scots-Irish immigrants were on their way to colonial New England .  Elizabeth was with child and gave birth to a baby girl in the hold of the ship.  As the legend goes, the ship was invaded by Pirates who supposedly planned to murder the immigrants onboard.  Hearing the sound of the baby, the pirate asked if they would name the child after his mother in exchange for leniency.  So the story goes, the Fulton's named the child Mary and spared the lives of all of the immigrants.

Interestingly, the pirate offered gifts to the infant.  The most interesting was a bolt of light green brocaded silk, parts of this fabric are in the museum at the New Hampshire Historical Society in Concord, and at the libraries in Londonderry and Henniker.   In the next piece of the legend, the pirate asked that the cloth be used for Mary's wedding gown, when she was married.

Mary's father died not long after they arrived in Boston.  She and her mother moved to Londonderry, NH.  Local historians tell us that Mary, tall and with red hair, did wear a gown made from the pirate's silk when she married James Wallace in 1742. The couple had four sons and a daughter. Three of the sons married three sisters and everyone settled in Henniker.  Mary lived a full life with her husband in Londonderry.  After her husband's death in 1798 she moved to Henniker and stayed with a son named William for her final 18 years.  Her son Robert owned the house known as the "Ocean Born Mary" house and interestingly Mary never lived with that son in that house.  She died at age 94 in 1814 and her grave and headstone are in the cemetery near the Henniker town hall.

 In 1917 Louis Maurice Auguste Roy of Wisconsin,, a photographer, along with his mother,  who was a widow purchased the house.  It was dilapidated and had been vacant for a long time.  They did a lot of work to restore it, adding antiques and making it museum like.  Mr. Roy had heard the story of Ocean Born Mary, and, adding his own fiction, he started telling people that she had lived in the house and that the furnishings had belonged to her. 

Mr. Roy created a business of showing the house to people, including tourists, telling them his stories about Ocean Born Mary.  He charged admission to the house and fabricated an interesting (but untrue story) including: (from the Henniker Historical Society) 
"That the pirate built the house for Mary and that she came there and kept house for him." (Mary's son, Robert built the house; she never lived there.) "That the pirate was murdered by a cutlass in the orchard, and, at his request, Mary buried him and his ‘loot' beneath the kitchen hearthstone." Also, "that either Mary or one of her sons was buried neath the hearthstone." (But the hearthstone is too heavy for anyone to lift; and from the cellar beneath it, it can be seen that there are only solid stone and mortar, so no tomb or body. Also Mary is buried in a cemetery in the village in a marked grave.)
 "That the pirate's treasure was buried in the orchard." (Many people have dug for the treasure; and it has been said that Mr. Roy rented shovels for 50¢ apiece for people to use in the digging.)
"That he had never seen Mary as he was not psychic enough." Another time he said, "that he had seen her many times; once when he was returning home one night, she appeared. That after she had disappeared, he saw that a covered bridge ahead of him had caved in." (There was no covered bridge on the road to his home.)
"Mary's rocking in her favorite chair." (This was after he had placed a rocking chair at the end of a loose floor board; and when he stepped on the other end of the board, it caused the chair to move.)
 If you want to read another version of the story, with supposed ghosts of Mary and the pirate roaming through the (not) Ocean Born Mary House....check out this posting
So, to answer the questions at the beginning of this blog....we love a good ghost/legend story too.  No doubt that Ocean Born Mary did exist (there are records of the voyage and she is buried here in Henniker) but it appears as if she did not live in the house but that her son did.   We've been in the house and it has been carefully restored and maintains its historic nature.  No matter the legends, it remains a beautiful home.  We will gladly tell you how to get there if you promise to only drive by, take a photo from the road of the home and the adjacent marker etc and not to infringe on the current owners privacy.  By all not head there in the dead of night to dig for buried treasure!  Sadly that part was also a hoax!

Colby Hill Inn Hosts Murder Mystery in Henniker 7 Apr 2014, 12:03 pm

Henniker’s Colby Hill Inn hosts weekend murder mystery event | Concord Monitor

 Jeeves the Butler, Jay DaSilva the South American Spice Dealer, The Cardinal, Sue Bromley or perhaps Shimmy Shade?  Who did it?  We had such an amazing weekend this week with our guests participating in "The Auction" a Murder Mystery led by New York actors, Jason Downs and Sophia Raab Downs.  We had a blast trying to figure out who the murderer was and twenty-six guests enjoyed the weekend filled with intrigue, fun, food and wine.  Henniker has never seen so much intrigue and mystery!  Props to our guests for their creative costumes!  Guests enjoyed walks through town, checking out the covered bridge and even visited the New Life Thrift Shop in town for last minute costume additions. They were very original and fun and this group totally embraced the game staying in character during the Saturday evening event. 

 Even Mason got into the act by tinting his hair black (albeit temporarily) and slicking it back to play South American Spice Dealer, Jay DaSilva.

Guests joined us from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island to get in on the mystery this past weekend.  At breakfast the next morning everyone asked us when we would do it again.  We and out staff had so much fun, we think November might be perfect time for another weekend of deception and intrigue!   Colby Hill Inn has hosted lots of special and unique events at the Inn but this one might have been the most interesting and fun!  Let us know if you are interested in the next one and we will keep you posted on details of our next Murder Mystery.   Check out the  the article written by the Concord Monitor here:  Henniker’s Colby Hill Inn hosts weekend murder mystery event | Concord Monitor

Did the Maid Do It?

What's in a Sign Anyway? 23 Feb 2014, 12:02 pm

We recently had a new sign installed close to the main road that leads to the inn.  We discussed and debated what should it say, how should it look etc.  One wonders how much someone can absorb as they are driving by a sign at 30-50 mph.  The old sign said Colby Hill Inn-Lodging-Good Food.  Seemed straight forward enough....but was it enough?  

New sign hand-made here in Henniker, New Hampshire
We all agreed (the sign maker and Mason and I) that it needed to replaced.  Both signs (the one by the road and the one at the entry) were there when we bought the inn 13 years ago and had started to show their age.  But....we still struggled over the verbiage.

The sticking point was really the phrase "good food".  Some suggested it should say " Fine Dining", others recommended an assortment of phrases.  Some were too long and too 'fussy'.  We wondered how people perceived the phrase "good food" and so we asked if it was appropriate to our restaurant.  It's hard to believe but the Colby Hill Inn has been operating as an inn and a restaurant since 1959.  A lot of different styles of dining had emerged over the years.  Our dining guests had interesting reactions; they said we exceeded their expectations and that they were surprised that the sign only said "good food"!
We've worked with our share of chefs over the years and we are very pleased that Chef Devin Clark joined us last May.  Devin mirrors our thoughts about locally sourced food and utilizing New Hampshire produce and meats when possible.  He's done a great job of building relationships with these farmers and then bringing those products to life in the kitchen.  He also is regularly at the farmer's/community markets in the area talking about our restaurant, interacting with the growers and arranging for fresh product to serve our guests. 

 We think the phrase "fine dining" is probably a bit dormant these days and that in reality.....the phrase GOOD FOOD  is what we want to be focused on.  We want to provide the freshest, and locally produced food that is prepared with a contemporary flair. We hope you agree and that you continue to enjoy the food we are offering and that you too, will find the sign a bit tongue in cheek but one that exemplifies our philosophy here at the Colby Hill Inn of providing very good food!

"Bananas" for Banana Bread at the Colby Hill Inn! 2 Feb 2014, 12:00 pm

We all watch those bananas sitting on the counter, in one of those cute little banana hooks or
baskets and promise ourselves we will make banana bread soon---very soon!  Of course, we also know that it's finally the day, you either make the banana bread or toss those brown/black bananas away.  I hate throwing food away and there is nothing like a slice of banana bread no matter the time of year. 
Time to Make Banana Bread!

 So today was the day to dig out a favorite banana bread recipe and do what I always do...tweak it!  I wanted something easy and no mess with only one bowl to wash.  


Here's the old family favorite with my additions.

Banana Bread
Makes One Loaf
Cook Time: 1 hour - 350 degrees- Prep time: 5 minutes

  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon dark rum (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose  flour
Preheat the oven to 350.  Mix the butter into the mashed bananas  in a large bowl.  Add in the sugar, egg, vanilla and rum (rum is optional) and mix well.  Add in the baking soda and salt and combine into the mixture.  Then add the flour and mix together.  Add in the chopped nuts once the flour is incorporated.  Pour the mixture into a greased/buttered or lined with parchment paper loaf pan.  Bake for one hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on a rack before cutting into slices.

Under the Tuscan Sun 26 Nov 2013, 10:00 am

Under the Tuscan Sun

We had a wonderful experience exploring Tuscany this summer with the primary goal of enjoying  fantastic wine...namely Brunello!  This was the view from the small hotel we stayed at in Montalcino, Italy.  As far as the eye can see we saw rolling hills, olive trees and vineyards.                                                                                     Our main mission was to visit a small vineyard called  Tenuto Silvio Nardi in the Montalcino region of Tuscany.  We arrived after some  maneuvering around steep and twisty Italian  roads and a few stops to ask for directions in our hastily practiced Italian!  Emanuele Nardi greeted us and  gave us an in-depth tour of the property while sharing how Brunello is made. 
 Brunello,  created from the Sangiovese Grosso grape is one of the most sought after wines in the world.  Located in the southern tip of Tuscany, the Montalcino region covers about 60,000 acres, but due to the exceptionally difficult and hilly area only about 5,000 of these acres can sustain vineyards-- which may be why Brunello is produced in such limited quantities. By law Brunello must be fermented in the Montalcino region and cannot be released before a total aging period of 4 years (and a minimum of 2 years must be in wood).  Riservas are actually aged 5 years. 

Mason and Emanuele at Tenuto Silvia Nardi Vineyard

We were treated to a tasting of three delicious wines including the Manachiara, the Brunello and the Rosso.   The Manachiara earns its DOCG status as coming from the very small region of approximately 10 miles around the town of Montalcino.  Only 10,000 bottles are produced in the finest of years. The Rosso is made from the  same Sangiovese Grosso grape but it is only aged for 1 year.  This wine is sometimes called "Baby Brunello" and is a moderately priced version of the prized Brunello. 
  There are many producers in the area and perhaps the most famous is Biondi-Santi which is really the birthplace of Brunello.  But there are many others and we really enjoyed several different producers while we were there.  

As we departed we stopped for a quick walk through thousands of sunflowers before heading on  to our next vineyard for more Brunello tasting!

  We hope you'll join us for dinner at the inn and enjoy one of the beautiful Tuscan wines on our award winning wine list.


Oh, The Dreaded Black Friday..... 25 Nov 2013, 1:43 pm

Oh, The Dreaded Black Friday....

Not everyone enjoys the rush to the stores, the big crowds or long lines at the crack of dawn on Black Friday (or for that matter...this year the stores are opening on Thanksgiving Day-  Yikes) to save a few dollars.  We've both done it a few times...but doubt we will be doing it anytime soon. 

So...while we usually don't use this space to advertise or market anything...we're going to make an exception here at the Colby Hill Inn  for this special sale!  We want to help make your gift giving easy this year!  We are offering our:

 ONCE A YEAR Special Gift Certificate Sale 

   Available on Friday Nov. 29 and Saturday Nov. 30 Only

  $50 - 10% OFF

 $51 - $149 - 15% OFF

                         $150 and up - 20% OFF                       

Gift Certificates can be used for dining at the inn, cooking classes or a romantic getaway. 

 Just give us a call at 1-800-531-0330 or 603-428-3281 and we'll take care of your gift giving.  We'll make it easy and you'll be saving a little too!  This Friday and Saturday only.

Do You Love Hand Crafted Beer? 19 Nov 2013, 9:40 am

Do You Love Hand-Crafted Beer?

Henniker Brewing Company is just a few miles down the road from the Inn and they have really burst onto the scene of hand-crafted brewing in a big way! Started in 2011 this  Both Mason and Jesse have been to the tasting room and toured the brewery as well as many of our guests.  Of course, we are proudly serving the Henniker Brewing selection of beers here at the Colby Hill Inn. 

We're thrilled to have them producing beer here in Henniker (by the way, it's the ONLY Henniker on Earth!).  Anyway, Henniker Brewing has four unique beer offerings.  Working Man's Porter, Amber Apparition, Whipple Wheat and Hop Slinger.  Don't you love those names?  The labels are even more interesting and a tip of the hat to the artist/designer who created the labels...very creative!   Check Out Working Man's Porter details.  Sounds delicious to me and love the suggestion about food pairing.  We'll highlight the other varieties in future blog posts.

Working Man's Porter

an ale of true merit, brewed in the tradition of England's Industrial Revolution, an age of rough-handed factory workers, a time before the weekend existed. Hearty and truly robust, this Porter's body is built with complex English brown and black malts, and refined by Brambling Cross hops, which lend notes of herbs and black currants. It pairs well with oysters, shepherd's pie, and sitting down after a long day.  

Working Man's Porter is just one of the unique brews being produced at the Henniker Brewery.  Check it out on your next visit to Henniker .  The Tap and Tasting Room is open Monday-Friday from 3 to 6 pm and on Saturday from noon to 2 pm with brewery tours at 1 pm.  Be sure to check it out and Happy Hand-crafted Beer tasting/drinking!





 18 Nov 2013, 6:45 pm

A Trip Along the Currier and Ives Byway- Henniker to Webster

Rowell's Bridge (#9) Hopkinton, NH
The Currier and Ives Byway led us on a delightful trip this past weekend and we wanted to share this afternoon journey with you.

We first headed out of Henniker from the Colby Hill Inn off of Western Avenue along the ByWay and onto Route #127.  From 127 we drove across the Hopkinton dam and came upon Rowell's Bridge (#9) in Hopkinton which  crosses the Contoocook River.  It was built in 1853 and cost  $300.25 to construct.     What a bargain! This is one of the covered bridges you can drive across- but take note, it's only one lane so you need to be on the lookout for others crossing the bridge.

It was a bit of a dreary day, but we didn't let that stop us from taking photos,  including this one warning us that the water may rise rapidly and there may be turbulence.  We didn't plan to jump into that water on a cool, rainy November day, but may be of interest to anyone with a Kayak as the Contoocook River is a popular kayaking locale.

We moved on through the center of Contoocook and Hopkinton still on Route #127 and traveled up and into Webster amid the falling leaves and hiking ready roadside trails.  Our main destination was Coffin Cellars, Country Winery.

Coffin Cellars Country Winery, Webster, NH
Coffin Cellars Country Winery, is located in Warner and is a family owned business with Father, Peter Austin and his two sons making and marketing specialty wines.  These wines are all fruit wines with interesting flavors like Apple, Blueberry,  Kiwiberry and Raspberry.  They even have a Jalepeno wine which we were told is excellent to cook with.  When I asked Peter about the origins of the name of the winery he explained it was a family name vs the more sinister 'coffin' I immediately thought of.

  We were greeted by Timothy Austin who talked with us about the winery and explained that they have a small production of wine rotating through 12 varietals.  They source many of their fruits locally and grow and harvest some of the berries on their own property.    

They are open on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 5 for tastings and you can also purchase the wine directly from them.  My favorite was the Apple Wine which was light and delicate and would go nicely with a fish or chicken dish.  Mason liked the fuller body, French oaked Blueberry wine which was also good and we purchased a few bottles to see how our guests would like them. 

By now, we were hungry for a late lunch and right along the Byway we found the EveryDay Cafe in the center of Contoocook on Main Street.   It's an old fashioned sort of spot and we loved it. It has a warm and cozy feel to it.   They had a nice selection of sandwiches, muffins and assorted coffees and different kinds of beverages.  We ordered  two of their signature sandwiches and were surprised to find fresh Contoocook Creamery Chocolate and Blueberry Milk.  We took some home to share with our family as a special treat!    

This is a nice little stop and there are several unique shops nearby including the Whistle Stop Sweet Shop across the street  from the Cafe and Indigo Blue.  Check out all the Shopping in Contoocook and Hopkinton, NH here.

Another surprise was the hand-made pottery  from Sweetgrass Pottery right in the window at  Everyday Cafe.  Great looking mugs and bowls that would make really nice gifts.

We headed back to Henniker
after a great day ejoying the
Currier and Ives Byway.  We
hope you'll explore it too!

The Most Requested Recipe....... 12 Nov 2013, 5:33 pm

Colby Hill Inn's Most Requested Recipe!

Colby Hill Inn Granola
 We were surprised to realize that the most requested recipe at the inn is our Colby Hill Inn Granola!  We of course love coming up with terrific and unique breakfast items like Orange Thyme Pancakes with Orange Sauce, our special Eggs with Boursin over Puff Pastry, coffee cakes and scones and lots of other great recipes but we are always asked about our Granola!

With more people eating fruits and grains this is a perfect breakfast (or delicious snack) option and we continue to offer it each morning.  We've been asked so often for the recipe that we are happy to share it with you here.  We've also been asked many times if we sell our Granola and we do!  We have it packaged in 1 lb. packages that you can pick up when you visit (or we can send it to you) if you are craving it.  Enjoy!

 6 cups of quick or Old Fashion Oats
1 cup of walnuts
1 cup pecans
½ cup shredded coconut
¼ cup sunflower seeds
2 T Poppy seeds
Mix above in a large bowl

Mix ½ lb brown sugar with
¼ cup white sugar
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¾ teaspoon ginger
Add sugars and spices to the oat mix and distribute evenly.

Melt 1 ½ sticks of butter (3/4 cup) in a saucepan. Add
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup orange juice
Pour the warm liquid over the oat mix and mix well

Lay the mix out on 2 cookie sheets
Bake at 275 degree oven for 30 minutes
Let cool completely
Add 1 cup each of raisins, dried cranberries, dried apricots
Store in an airtight container