I recently took a tour at Henry Chapman Mercer’s Museum and Castle in Doylestown. It was wonderful to be able to safely experience the iconic architecture and collections from Doylestown’s own famous philanthropist, architect and collector. Here’s our experience…
The Doylestown native, also known as “the man behind the castles,” became famous during the 20th century Arts and Crafts movement for his tilework, archaeology, antique collecting, art and writing. Mercer was so fond and proud to own and research his 40,000+ artifacts, that he donated his entire collection to the Bucks County Historical Society before he passed because he wanted people to interpret and reflect on his ideas and concepts like he did.
Today, all three sites surrounding his legacy, Fonthill Castle, Mercer Museum and Moravian Pottery & Tile Works are listed as National Historical Landmarks. Fonthill Castle was once his home, he built Mercer Museum to display and store his collection and Moravian Pottery and Tile Works is where he would hand make the tiles.
My husband and I recently had the opportunity to visit Fonthill Castle and the Mercer Museum during the pandemic. With proper safety measures set in place, one will feel very comfortable and at ease while spending the day at these locations.
First, we went to Fonthill Castle. Before we entered the welcome center, there was a sign on the door that stated wearing a mask is required when touring the facility and surrounding grounds. Once inside, there were six feet apart stickers placed on the ground leading up to the check-in desk that had plexiglass. We must have signed up for the first tour since it was just us two and one tour guide. The tour guide ensured she was always standing six feet apart from us. Also, there were hand sanitizing stations throughout the castle. Afterwards, we leisurely strolled through the grounds outside, distant from the other visitors.
Next, we went to the Mercer Museum. Time slots are to be reserved for two-hour increments to help maintain and regulate large crowds. Before entering, we were greeted at the check-in desk by someone who works for the museum. There was no plexiglass like at Fonthill Castle, but the worker had a mask on and there was hand sanitizer at hand, which made us feel very comfortable. Once inside, we were able to see the new major exhibit, “200 Years of Bucks County Art,” in addition to the six-story display of Mercer’s collectable items. While walking around, arrows were on the ground to help direct people in an even flow and the six feet apart stickers were placed as well. There were also hand sanitizer stations throughout as well as signs at the elevators explaining the maximum capacity to ride the elevators.
If you have not gone already, or need to immerse yourself with art, culture and history, plan a visit to Fonthill Castle and Mercer Museum. The Bucks County Historical Society has done a tremendous job making both locations safe to visit. It was easy to see that they have missed the community pass by to view things the way Henry Mercer would!