Fonthill Castle

  based on 1 review   write a review

525 East Court Street, Doylestown, PA, USA - (215) 348-9461

Fonthill Castle Doylestown Reviews

vances vances
581 reviews
Tiled and true Dec 29, 2014
A strange but quite enjoyable attraction, Fonthill Castle is splendid. Raised by Henry Chapman Mercer as his personal residence, the towering structure abuts Henry’s Moravian Tile Factory and is more or less a billboard advertising the output of that facility. Henry’s other initiative was concrete, and you might easily guess construction materials. No photography is permitted within, a prohibition I had to respect because our tour guide was so polite and into her offering (though I still fail to understand the reasoning since nothing we toured would be damaged by photography).

I really don’t think I would have wanted to live here, but the monstrosity had appealing segments. Henry wanted to push his tiles as well as the fireproof nature of concrete, so the absurdities include a lot of furniture molded from concrete (like bookshelves). There are many archways, and most of these have interesting tiles embedded. Henry was a world traveler and designed many of the tiles sold by his factory. He also stuck them throughout the interior of his abode, and most are interesting – there was usually a set dwelling upon a theme, such as chronicling Columbus voyage to the New World.

Henry was clearly not an architect. He designed most of the castle, which winds weirdly through the many columns of the huge building. The numerous guest rooms were frequently inhabited by invitees, all of whom seemed to gain admission in hopes of securing tile and/or concrete orders. To Henry’s credit, he lived here from its completion (constructed 1908-12) until his death in 1930. Even cooler, he bequeathed the estate to his housekeeper, who remained with her husband until both had passed away in 1976. After that it was commandeered by public charitable organizations intent upon sharing the grandeur with the public.

And thus another roadside attraction was born. A fascinating tour for those of you enjoying quirky sites. Only option is take a guided tour ($12 for Adults), which lasts about an hour. No photography permitted inside the castle.
To the castle we go!
Lovely Sycamore entrance into Font…
Probably shouldn't have snapped th…
Walking past the livery stable on …
5 / 5 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
vances says:
How cool is that? Thanks for the research, Lauryl!

Posted on: Jan 05, 2015
Travel2014 says:
I googled him (love to learn, thanks for sharing Vance) and found this an interesting tidbit as well: Other collections of tiles by Mercer can be found at Kykuit, the Rockefeller estate in Pocantico Hills, New York; Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, California; the Casino at Monte Carlo in Monaco; and the St. Louis Public Library.
Posted on: Jan 05, 2015
Travel2014 says:
I have so much respect for this person leaving his home to his housekeeper.
What a wonderful thing to be able to do, and a wonderful way to be able to thank someone. She must have taken great care of the place! :)
Posted on: Jan 05, 2015
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!

Check Doylestown Hotel Deals

Doylestown Map
photo by: mahoney