‘Gilmore Girls’: Was Chilton Based on a Real School?

Rory Gilmore may have only spent three years at Chilton, but her acceptance into the prestigious school was the entire premise for Gilmore Girls. It was, after all, the reason Lorelai Gilmore had to reconnect with her estranged parents, Richard and Emily Gilmore, and it’s the entire reason Rory developed a deep relationship with her grandparents. While everyone knows that Chilton was prestigious, was the school real or fictional?

Was Chilton a real school?

Rory’s acceptance into Chilton was a big deal. Everyone in Stars Hollow talked about it, and Richard and Emily were particularly pleased to tell everyone they knew that their granddaughter was attending the prep school. If Richard and Emily’s social circle was impressed by her choice in prep schools, you know it was a big deal. Was the school real, though?

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No, not exactly. There is no Chilton School in Connecticut. While there are a few school districts that bare the name Chilton, they are not the prestigious prep school that Rory was said to attend. Rory’s school is a work of fiction, but a real school inspired it.

What school inspired Chilton?

Chilton was inspired by Choate Rosemary Hall, according to Bustle. The co-ed prep school is located in Wallingford, Connecticut, and offers students some pretty extraordinary educational opportunities.

Alexis Bledel as Rory Gilmore and Lauren Graham as Lorelai Gilmore
Rory Gilmore and Lorelai Gilmore | Warner Bros./Delivered by Online USA

The school is known as a feeder school, with a high number of graduating seniors going on to Ivy League colleges. Yale, for example, has accepted 154 students from Choate, according to Niche. Harvard has taken more than 100 students from the program, as well. Choate, which will cost parents more than $40,000 a year for non-boarding students, is considered the best prep school in Connecticut, and the eighth best private high school in the country.

There is a local prep school in the town that inspired Stars Hollow, too

While Choate Rosemary Hall is believed to be the inspiration for Chilton, another prestigious prep school is located in the town that inspired Stars Hollow. Washington Depot is a tiny hamlet in the city of Washington, Connecticut. Close to Hartford, Washington is charming but is so small that those who aren’t looking for it could easily blink and miss it. With just 3,500 inhabitants, the town’s greatest claim to fame is the fact that it inspired Amy Sherman-Palladino to pen Gilmore Girls.

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Washington, Connecticut, isn’t just home to cute inns and charming small businesses, a prestigious prep school is located within the town’s limits. The Frederick Gunn School, formerly known as The Gunnery, is a highly-selective boarding and prep school in Washington, Connecticut. According to Niche, students who attend the school enjoy small class sizes, a plethora of enrichment activities, and tend to go on to top-ranked colleges. The Gunnery, however, doesn’t have the same Ivy League acceptances of similar schools in the area.