Thursday, April 12, 2018

Only in Bucks County: Pennsbury Manor

I wanted to write about Pennsbury Manor because it's just opening for tours for the 2018 Spring/Summer season. Richard and I went (for my first time) last summer and I think about our visit often.

Pennsbury Manor was the country home of William Penn, who came to our area from England, scouted out the property, then brought all of the supplies over to build a magnificent manor home in the late 1600's. It's pretty cool to think a home this elaborate was one of the first in America. It was built BEFORE Billy Penn founded Philadelphia!

The day we went, pirates invaded the Penn's personal tavern. 

My favorite part was probably the kitchen garden. Located right off of the kitchen steps, we learned that from April through October, all kinds of fresh vegetables and herbs were grown and available for cooking; as well as fresh flowers for the dining table. It was very pretty and very peaceful, and there was a delicious smell in the air from all of the flowers and herbs.

I don't want to spoil the surprise of having your own experience at Pennsbury Manor, but I do have these recommendations:

Take the house tour!
I've always loved touring period homes and I enjoyed seeing how the bedrooms were decorated and even how the dining table was set at the manor.  Our guide was fantastic! She really knew her stuff! She had a great sense of humor, and she was able to keep the attention of three kids and a teenager that were in our group. I learned a lot of interesting facts and got a real feel of what it was like to live in Colonial times.

Walk the grounds! 
Take a deep breath of the fresh green grass and stroll the grounds.
We found fields of raspberry bushes, some old gravestones, a Durham boat, and we got up close and personal with an ox named Bill. There are other farm animals... and apparently some pretty peacocks that we never did find!

Bring a picnic blanket!
There are plenty of picnic tables and spots to sit and relax, and you are welcome to bring a picnic lunch. The day we went, a Colonial-clad young gentleman was cooking up a sausage and bean dish that may have been popular during Colonial times for guests to sample, and we were able to buy some ice cold ale from Round Guys Brewing Company.

Check out the English Garden!
William Penn wanted to impress anybody pulling up to the Manor.
Since people arrived by boat back then, much more attention was given to making the side of the manor that faced the river very grand. There's a formal English garden in the front of the home and a stately tree-lined path that leads from he Delaware to the Manor. Sit in the garden and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air!


Attend an event!
There's sheep-shearing in the spring, cooking demonstrations in the huge kitchen fireplace, candle-making, blacksmithing, woodworking and more. In Penn's time, they even made beer on-site, and a diluted version of today's beer was the beverage of choice back then, even for the children.

Go back at Christmas time! 
Experience the enchantment of Pennsbury Manor decked in Colonial Revival holiday decor by candlelight. Two nights are set aside each December for "Holly Nights", where you and your family will enjoy a house filled with crackling fires, dancing shadows, hot-mulled cider, and "the merry sound of carolers strolling the grounds."

There's also a small museum in the Visitor's Center with original artifacts and a wealth of information about Penn's family history that you should plan on seeing on your way out.
Additionally there are stops offering information about the Manor and Colonial times throughout the grounds. I would allow three or four hours for your visit. Guided house tours run about an hour and a half and you can start to plan your trip here. Pennsbury Manor is located at 400 Pennsbury Memorial Road in Morrisville, Bucks County PA.

That is NOT William Penn on your Quaker Oats container, nor is it Ben Franklin!
It is, however, a man dressed in the Quaker garb representative of Penn's Quaker faith and its values of honesty, integrity, and purity. 

"A true friend gives freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues a Friend unchangeably."
 ~ William Penn, from 'Qualities of a Friend'