A castle like no 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 for it to be his home and a showcase 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 of places he had traveled and things he had seen when creating his masterpiece castle, a mixture of Gothic, Medieval and Byzantine. It is one of the earliest examples of a hand-mixed poured concrete structure.
It is probably one of the most interesting and unusual homes you will ever visit. The castle has more than 44 rooms, 32 stairwells, 21 fireplaces, 18 fireplaces and 200 windows.
Visitors will have the opportunity to see the integrated bookcases which are placed throughout the castle and which contain over 6,000 books. One of the highlights is the incredible fireplace.
Over 30,000 visitors come from all over the world to see this castle each year. It has stairs and spiral passages and is not suitable for people with disabilities, strollers, or anyone unable to stand or climb stairs.
Visitors can see working Moravian pottery and tile factories as artisans produce handmade tiles and mosaics the way they were made in previous years using Mercer’s designs. The shop and tours are open daily by appointment only, with a limit of six people at a time in the building. The national historic monument is planned as a working history museum. To check for updates, email [email protected] or visit the tile works Facebook page. Make an appointment by calling 215-348-6090.
A short distance from the castle is the Mercer Museum, a six-story building that houses over 40,000 artefacts, all telling a piece of the history of American life in the 18th and 19th centuries. The museum is housed in a castle also built by Mercer from poured concrete. There is so much to see in this one building, including the gallows.
In 1930, upon Mercer’s death, he left what he called “Castle for the New World” in trust to become a museum, giving the rights to his governess and her husband. She visited museums and lived there until her death in 1975.
The Mercer Museum is one of Bucks County’s top attractions and a subsidiary of the Smithsonian. The museum hosts traveling and permanent exhibitions and offers programs throughout the year. The collection takes travelers through 60 different trades and crafts.
Booking tickets online is the best way to be sure you see what you want to see. There are tickets available for the museum and the castle on mercermuseum.org.
Sometimes tickets are available on arrival if there are still time slots open. The website has all the information about the timetables for both attractions.