In summer, Sarah and Annie would retreat to Annie’s summer home in Manchester, or Manchester-by-the-Sea, as her late husband James Fields had coined the area, to distinguish it from other New England towns by the same name. In 1873, the Fields had bought five acres known as Thunderbolt Hill and built a house there, naming it Gambrel Cottage.
Once a fishing village, Manchester had by the late nineteenth century, like coastal towns of Southern Maine, become a tourist destination.
A good part of Annie and Sarah’s seaside vacation would involve socializing with their Boston circle, including Sarah Wyman Whitman, Loulie Dresel, and Harriet Spofford. Sarah was glad when Sally Norton and Jessie Cochrane played music on their visits. She was surprised when Isabella Stewart Gardner brought her husband one visit, though he was deemed nice. They had poor weather on one of Alice Longfellow’s visits. Madame Blanc visited. Sarah’s sister Mary visited too.
One of Sarah’s special vacation companions was Roger the Irish Setter: “But the best place to see this dog is by the sea-shore in the summer… Mrs. James T. Fields is at such times his best friend, for she oftenest invites him to walk along the beach and chase sandpipers.” (Gertrude Van Wickham, “Sarah Orne Jewett’s Dog,” 1889, Edited by Terry Heller, Coe College)