Press play on the above video for a 22 second outside view of the Fonthill Mansion in Doylestown, PA. I have driven by this mansion countless times. My Aunt, Uncle and cousins lived about a mile and a half away, if that, and I would visit them several times a year. It always fascinated me. It’s architecture is simply amazing.
The Castle, which is a mix of Medieval, Gothic and Byzantine architecture was built between 1908 – 1912 and was the home of Henry Chapman Mercer, an archaeologist, anthropologist, ceramist, scholar and antiquarian. He used the mansion not only as his home but as a showcase for his collections of Moravian tiles and prints.
Henry passed in 1930, leaving the entire estate to his housekeeper and her husband, Laura and Frank Swain. Frank passed before Laura, who gave many tours throughout the time she owned the property. Laura died in 1975 and shortly thereafter, the property was placed in the hands of the Bucks County Historical Society and it has since been a museum that showcases not only it’s amazing architecture but collections of arts and tiles from Henry Mercer. Many tiles are a part of the architecture, mounted to the walls and ceiling. Upon visiting, you will see upwards of over 14,000 artifacts.
If you visit, you may catch a glimpse of Laura, wanting to give the tour herself. Her ghost has been seen wandering the halls on many occasions and by many visitors. I have read that paranormal investigators and digital equipment are not allowed inside the walls of the museum. Anything you wish to see will not be found online, you will have to venture out and tour the museum and Castle with your own eyes. And if you do, say hello to Laura for me.
I have been to the Mercer Library to conduct my own ancestry research as my roots run deep in Bucks County, PA all the way back to the mid 1700’s. My maternal grandfather’s family was sold land by William Penn’s children. The library and castle do not reside on the same property however but there is a great deal to see within the library walls as well. It is also worth a visit.
- Video #1, outside scanned view of the castle, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbaca7Zxslw / “Fonthill Castle.”
- Mercer Museum and Fonthill Castle Website
- Mercer Museum and Fonthill Castle – Fonthill Castle Collections (Website)