Giving lie to John Donne

Photographs by Devin Groody, courtesy Sotheby’s International Reality.

“No man is an island, entire of itself,” the 17th-century poet John Donne wrote. “Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”

Yet on Branford’s Thimble Islands, the temptation to give lie to Donne’s sentiment is irresistible. Rugged outcroppings that suggest Maine. Stone paths that evoke Japanese gardens. Gabled pool-houses, potted palms, patio parasols and pastel porches reminiscent of Key West. Turreted Victorians with wraparound porches awash in soft colors. Thimble Islands beckon you to stay forever.

The properties on the eight islands that make up the tranquil, protected archipelago have been completely restored, updated and expanded over 20 years by the current owners. Offerings include eight separate residences and multiple guesthouses, outbuildings and amenities.

At the heart of the group is storied Rogers Island, 8 acres of bedrock covered in towering specimen trees and plantings, rolling lawns, rocky shoreline and formal gardens. An impeccably restored turn-of-the-century manor house sits on the island’s highest point overlooking three-quarters of a mile of coastline and the Long Island Sound. The 10-bedroom manor is complemented by a state-of-the-art pool complex, tennis courts, a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf hole, guesthouses and a commercial-scale greenhouse. The island estate also offers a private cove with two granite piers along with floating docks that can accommodate larger yachts.

Each of the other islands has its own unique character and offers an array of homes and cottages with complementing landscaped grounds, accessed by private docks. The islands are also ideally suited for corporate use.

There is a separate waterfront property with a historic Victorian manse and guest and staff quarters, along with a private commercial-grade dock and landing service for the islands’ guests and commercial traffic.

The Thimble Islands, which list for $78 million, are within five to 10 minutes of shore from either private or town launch, while access by helicopter is just 20 minutes from Manhattan or 10 minutes from Tweed National Airport in New Haven for both commercial and private aviation.

For more, contact Shelly Tretter Lynch (WAG’s December 2014 cover subject) at 203-550-8508 or 203-618-3103 or email her at

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