A castle like none other, this former home of Henry Chapman Mercer is as unique as Mercer was.
Fonthill Castle was built between 1908 and 1912 in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Mercer was an archaeologist, ceramist, scholar, anthropologist and antiquarian. His intention in building this castle was that it would be his home and a showplace for his collection of tiles and prints. He was known for his Moravian tiles produced during the American Arts and Crafts movement. He gathered ideas from places he had traveled and things he had seen when creating his masterpiece castle, a mix of Gothic, Medieval and Byzantine. It is one of the earliest examples of a hand-mixed poured concrete structure.
This is probably one of the most interesting and unusual homes you will ever tour. The castle has more than 44 rooms, 32 stairwells, 21 chimneys, 18 fireplaces and 200 windows.
Visitors will have an opportunity to see the built-in bookcases that are positioned throughout the castle that hold more than 6,000 books. One of the highlights is the amazing fireplace.
More than 30,000 visitors come from all over the world to see this castle each year. It has winding stairs and passages and is not suitable for people with handicaps, strollers or anyone not able to stand or do stairs.
Visitors can see the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works in operation as artisans produce handmade tiles and mosaics in the way they were made in earlier years using Mercer’s designs. The shop and tours are open daily by appointment only, with a limit of six people in the building at one time. The National Historic Landmark is slated as a working history museum. To check on updates email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the tile works’ Facebook page. Make an appointment by calling 215-348-6090.
Just a short distance from the castle is the Mercer Museum, a six-story building that houses more than 40,000 objects, all telling a piece of America’s story of life in the 18th and 19th centuries. The museum is in a castle also built by Mercer from poured concrete. There is so much to see in this one building, including gallows.
In 1930 when Mercer died, he left what he called “Castle for the New World” in a trust to be a museum, giving the rights to his housekeeper and her husband. She gave museum tours and lived there until her death in 1975.
The Mercer Museum is one of Bucks County’s premiere attractions and a Smithsonian affiliate. The museum hosts traveling and permanent exhibits and offers programs throughout the year. The collection takes travelers through 60 different trades and crafts.
Reserving tickets online is the best way to be sure to see what you want to see. There are tickets available for the museum and the castle at mercermuseum.org.
At times, tickets are available upon arrival if there are time slots still open. The website has all the information on the hours for both attractions.
To find a place to stay and for COVID updates, go to visitbuckscounty.com.