Pennsbury Manor

Pennsbury Manor Pennsbury Manor is the reconstructed 17th-century country estate of William Penn. This 43-acre estate is located along the Delaware River in beautiful Bucks County.
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Situated on 43 acres along the Delaware River, Pennsbury Manor is the reconstructed 17th century home of William Penn, founder and first governor of Pennsylvania.

Temporarily closed

Who will be the first person to cross your threshold (virtual or not) in 2021?Happy Hogmanay! In Scotland, the Isle of M...
01/01/2021

Who will be the first person to cross your threshold (virtual or not) in 2021?

Happy Hogmanay! In Scotland, the Isle of Man, and parts of Northern England, Hogmanay is the traditional New Year’s celebration, and has roots in both Viking and pre-Christian winter holidays. One of the most important parts of a proper Hogmanay celebration is called ‘first-footing’ - the first person to cross your threshold after midnight will determine your luck for the coming year! Traditionally, a tall, dark-haired man would bring the best luck - especially if he brought along the right symbolic gifts. Black buns and coal, for instance, would ensure your house would have food and warmth! In many towns, any tall, dark-haired men act as the ‘first foot’ for their whole block or street, getting to enjoy a warm drink at each house in exchange for the luck they bring. This year, why not practice a virtual first-footing, and call or chat with someone to bring you luck?

While 2020 was a year full of unique challenges, we count ourselves lucky to have such a vibrant and dedicated community of visitors, volunteers, and followers, and we look forward to the day when we can have the first guests cross Pennsbury’s threshold in 2021!

Is your tree decorated yet? Learn about the history of Christmas trees with us!The tree that today graces the homes of m...
12/23/2020

Is your tree decorated yet? Learn about the history of Christmas trees with us!

The tree that today graces the homes of many families around the world has a long and rich history. The Romans used evergreen trees to symbolize fertility and regeneration, and would decorate their homes with branches of evergreen during festivals in January.
While the precise dates when evergreens became ‘Christmas trees’ is unclear, one of the earliest written accounts of this tradition dates to 1605, when an unknown writer from Strasburg described a festive scene. “They set up fir-trees in the parlours,” he writes, “and hang thereon roses cut out of many-coloured paper, apples, wafers, gold foil, sweets, &c.” Descriptions and illustrations of these early trees can be seen throughout the 17th, 18th and early 19th century.

In the 19th century, German immigrants introduced this idea to the New World. In about 1820, a Germantown artist named John Krimmal sketched what appears to be a small holly tree decorated with cookies; many people believe that sketch to be the first representation of Christmas trees in America.

What ornaments do you put on your tree? If you haven’t decorated yet, take some inspiration from Father Christmas as he explores the history of Christmas ornaments in this video from our Holly Nights at Home celebration: https://fb.watch/2zsPmxoVoi/
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Pennsbury Manor’s ‘Christmas Countdown’ explores the history of Christmas in William Penn’s life and legacy. While Quakers don’t celebrate Christmas, Penn welcomed many settlers of other faiths who brought their own traditions to Pennsylvania. Join us every day for a new fun fact!

While this year, Christmas celebrations are being put on hold to protect our communities, in the mid-17th century Christ...
12/22/2020

While this year, Christmas celebrations are being put on hold to protect our communities, in the mid-17th century Christmas was banned in England for an entirely different reason.

In 1647, England was ruled by a largely Puritan Parliament. While many people place the blame on Oliver Cromwell for banning Christmas, in reality the decision was the result of increasingly strong antipathy towards holidays that were viewed as distracting from the true nature of religion. Many English Protestants viewed Christmas as a thinly-veiled pagan holiday, whose focus on feasting and merriment did not inspire an appropriately pious mood.

What did cancelled Christmas mean? One of the biggest changes was that shops had to stay open! While many of us in the 21st century have become accustomed to working on Christmas, this idea was outrageous to Christmas’s dedicated fans in the mid-1600’s, and many shop owners simply refused to open their businesses.

By 1660, when Charles II acceded to the throne, Christmas was once again permitted to thrive in England. For William Penn, born in 1644, this meant that he wouldn’t have experienced a very festive Christmas until he was a teenager! However, by the late 1660’s he had become a Quaker, and (this time willingly) given up Christmas again.

🖼 This image of Father Christmas visiting England comes from The Vindication of Christmas (1652), a book written in defense of Christmas by English writer John Taylor.
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Pennsbury Manor’s ‘Christmas Countdown’ explores the history of Christmas in William Penn’s life and legacy. While Quakers don’t celebrate Christmas, Penn welcomed many settlers of other faiths who brought their own traditions to Pennsylvania. Join us every day for a new fun fact!

Happy Winter Solstice! Our Historic Garden Interpreter, Jessye, snapped this photo of our sundial this morning. Despite ...
12/22/2020

Happy Winter Solstice! Our Historic Garden Interpreter, Jessye, snapped this photo of our sundial this morning. Despite the wintery weather (and lack of sun), we’re on our way towards spring! After tonight, the days will grow longer, and the nights will grow shorter.

Today also bore witness to a historic astrological event – the Great Conjunction (or ‘Christmas kiss’) of Jupiter and Saturn. The last time the two planets aligned this closely was 1623, and the last time it occurred in an easily visible dark sky was 1226! Were you able to see this rare sight tonight?

Many Christmas traditions (like burning Yule logs, wassailing, and of course, lots of feasting) link back to the Scandinavian Yule and Roman Saturnalia celebrations, which marked the winter solstice. Are you celebrating the solstice this year?
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Pennsbury Manor’s ‘Christmas Countdown’ explores the history of Christmas in William Penn’s life and legacy. While Quakers don’t celebrate Christmas, Penn welcomed many settlers of other faiths who brought their own traditions to Pennsylvania. Join us every day for a new fun fact!

Does your family leave out milk and cookies for Santa? How about rice pudding?The Swedish ‘tomte’ (or ‘nisse,’ in other ...
12/20/2020

Does your family leave out milk and cookies for Santa? How about rice pudding?

The Swedish ‘tomte’ (or ‘nisse,’ in other Scandinavian countries) is a small being who lives on farms and watches over families to make sure they stay on their best behavior. Legend has it that each tomte is a manifestation of the spirit of the first farmer and must be treated with respect. If you find yourself living with a tomte, one of the best ways to keep him happy is to leave out a bowl of rice pudding (‘julgröt’) with a pat of butter on top on Christmas Eve! It’s also good luck to shout out when you spill something, to make sure the tomte doesn’t slip in the puddle!

The tomte may have traveled to America, too; the Gourd Gnome craft from our Holly Nights celebration harkens back to this Swedish tradition! Parts of modern-day southeastern PA were colonized by Sweden in the early 1600's, and many Swedish settlers remained in the area once William Penn was made governor.

In the nineteenth century, the tomte began to take on some of the characteristics of Santa Claus, and began to deliver gifts too! Why not leave out a bowl of julgröt this Christmas Eve and try your luck?

🖼 The top image in this collage shows an earlier, more devilish version of a tomte, from Olaus Magnus’s 1555 “A Description of the Northern Peoples.” The lower right image shows our Gourd Gnome craft, which shows the tomte's gentler modern face.
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Pennsbury Manor’s ‘Christmas Countdown’ explores the history of Christmas in William Penn’s life and legacy. While Quakers don’t celebrate Christmas, Penn welcomed many settlers of other faiths who brought their own traditions to Pennsylvania. Join us every day for a new fun fact!

Christmas in Restoration England was a time for feasts, merriment, and…ghost stories? Yes, you read that correctly! Clas...
12/19/2020

Christmas in Restoration England was a time for feasts, merriment, and…ghost stories? Yes, you read that correctly! Classics such as A Christmas Carol or It’s A Wonderful Life belong to a long history of supernatural storytelling.

One such story appeared in The Loyal Post on Christmas Eve in 1705. In “A True Relation of the Apparition of one Mrs. Veal,” a Mrs. Bargrave of Canterbury received an old friend, Mrs. Veal, for a visit one Saturday afternoon. The two women had been out of touch, and Mrs. Veal said she hoped to rekindle their friendship. When Mrs. Bargrave went to meet Mrs. Veal again the next Monday, she discovered that Mrs. Veal had died exactly 24 hours before she came to visit!

How did Mrs. Bargrave prove that her story was true? Read a 1706 version of this story (sometimes attributed to Daniel Defoe) here: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/36587/36587-h/36587-h.htm

While the English tradition of telling haunting tales at Christmas goes back centuries, the practice rose in popularity after the restoration of King Charles II in 1660. According to historian Sasha Handley, this is due in part to the dramatic increase in printing production; of all original ghost stories published between 1600 and 1800, forty-two percent were published between 1660 and 1700!

Want to start a new, Zoom-friendly tradition this Christmas? Why not share ghost stories with brave family and friends? If you’re feeling inspired, write your own!

📖 The image in this post is a scanned version of the title page from the 1706 edition of this tale.
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Pennsbury Manor’s ‘Christmas Countdown’ explores the history of Christmas in William Penn’s life and legacy. While Quakers don’t celebrate Christmas, Penn welcomed many settlers of other faiths who brought their own traditions to Pennsylvania. Join us every day for a new fun fact!

Before they were cakes, Yule logs were large branches or logs that would be decorated with ribbons and then burned cerem...
12/18/2020

Before they were cakes, Yule logs were large branches or logs that would be decorated with ribbons and then burned ceremonially in the hearth throughout the Christmas celebrations. While the exact origins of this tradition are unclear, most British historians agree that its roots lie in pre-Christian religious solstice celebrations.

In 1725, historian Henry Bourne wrote that the custom came from the Anglo-Saxons: “Our Fore-Fathers, when the common Devotions of the Eve were over, and Night was come on, were wont to light up Candles of an uncommon Size, which were called Christmas-Candles, and to lay a Log of Wood upon the Fire, which they termed a Yule-Clog, or Christmas-Block. … Bede [a medieval English monk] tells us, That this very Night was observed in this Land before, by the Heathen Saxons. … For as both December and January were called Guili or Yule, upon Account of the Sun’s Returning, and the Increase of the Days; so, I am apt to believe, the Log has had the Name of the Yule-Log, from its being burnt as an Emblem of the returning Sun, and the Increase of its Light and Heat.”

It’s almost time for our days to start getting longer; why not light up a Yule log (or a miniature version) to celebrate this winter season?

📖 Read more of this fascinating 18th-century record of English historic holiday celebrations here: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000309539
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Pennsbury Manor’s ‘Christmas Countdown’ explores the history of Christmas in William Penn’s life and legacy. While Quakers don’t celebrate Christmas, Penn welcomed many settlers of other faiths who brought their own traditions to Pennsylvania. Join us every day for a new fun fact!

Where did we get our idea of a ‘White Christmas?’ Many historians trace the idea back to the Little Ice Age!This era of ...
12/16/2020

Where did we get our idea of a ‘White Christmas?’ Many historians trace the idea back to the Little Ice Age!

This era of unusually cold European winters lasted from around the mid-1500’s to the mid-1800’s (although some scientists and historians use the term to refer to a broader period of cooling beginning around 1300). The Thames river would frequently freeze over, and many London residents would hold celebrations called Frost Fairs on the ice! One such fair occurred in 1683, while William Penn was (perhaps unfortunately) here in Pennsylvania. By the end of the Little Ice Age, snow and ice were inextricably tied to Christmas and the joyous celebrations of Frost Fairs in Britain’s imagination. Charles Dickens, born in 1812, is credited with cementing the idea of a ‘White Christmas,’ and although the last Frost Fair was held in 1814, Dickens would have grown up hearing stories of magical holiday celebrations in the snow!

This year, as part of our Holly Nights at Home festivities, we enjoyed a presentation on Frost Fairs from Ann Shipley, the Museum Educator at Pottsgrove Manor. If you haven’t gotten to watch it yet, grab a cup of hot tea or cocoa and follow this link! https://fb.watch/2qhQodoeid/

🖼 This image comes from a broadside picturing the 1683 Frost Fair; for an online version with notes on the activities pictured, follow this link: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Frost_Fair_of_1683.JPG
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Pennsbury Manor’s ‘Christmas Countdown’ explores the history of Christmas in William Penn’s life and legacy. While Quakers don’t celebrate Christmas, Penn welcomed many settlers of other faiths who brought their own traditions to Pennsylvania. Join us every day for a new fun fact!

From the Diary of Samuel Pepys, December 27, 1664:“I went to bed, leaving my wife and all her folks…come to make Christm...
12/15/2020

From the Diary of Samuel Pepys, December 27, 1664:
“I went to bed, leaving my wife and all her folks…come to make Christmas gambolls to-night.”

Famed seventeenth-century diarist (and friendly rival of Admiral Sir William Penn) Samuel Pepys spent his Christmases as many of us do in the twenty-first century; he attended morning church services, feasted on good food, and partook in “Christmas Gambols” (games and other amusements) with family and friends.

Published in 1674, Charles Cotton’s The Compleat Gamester contains the rules for popular games that families like the Pepyses and Penns would have enjoyed throughout the Christmas season. Some games are still familiar to us, such as “The Warlike Game at Chess,” “Back-Gammon,” and “Cribbidge.” Other games, such as “Lanterloo,” “Bone-Ace,” and “Beast,” have fallen out of favor!

While many of us won’t be spending Christmas with our families this year, we can still add some seventeenth-century flair to our Zoom parties by throwing a few games into the mix! What games do you play with your loved ones at Christmas? Share in the comments below!

📖 The image in this post comes from a 1725 reprint of The Compleat Gamester; follow this link to read an online version of the book: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/010249019
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Pennsbury Manor’s ‘Christmas Countdown’ explores the history of Christmas in William Penn’s life and legacy. While Quakers don’t celebrate Christmas, Penn welcomed many settlers of other faiths who brought their own traditions to Pennsylvania. Join us every day for a new fun fact!

What’s your favorite Christmas carol? Today's Christmas Countdown post explores a colonial-era song!While many of our fa...
12/14/2020
While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night {Hymn} [King's - 2011, № 10]

What’s your favorite Christmas carol? Today's Christmas Countdown post explores a colonial-era song!

While many of our favorite carols were composed in the nineteenth century (or the 1990s if you’re a Mariah Carey fan), some date back to William Penn’s lifetime. “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks” is one of the oldest carols sung today; the song appeared in an Anglican hymnal in 1700, with lyrics by the Irish hymnist and poet Nahum Tate. Just like several other carols, this one has been set to several tunes throughout the ages, but the most common tune used in Britain today is even older than the words, dating back to the 1600’s!

🎶 Watch this video to enjoy a beautiful, candlelit rendition of this song by the King’s College Choir! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgYzJDxxzN8

For a detailed history of this Christmas carol, check out this blog post from a music history scholar: https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-while-shepherds-watched-their-flocks
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Pennsbury Manor’s ‘Christmas Countdown’ explores the history of Christmas in William Penn’s life and legacy. While Quakers don’t celebrate Christmas, Penn welcomed many settlers of other faiths who brought their own traditions to Pennsylvania. Join us every day for a new fun fact!

Listen to King’s College Choir, free, on their website: http://bit.ly/kingslistenCAROLS FROM KING'S 2011The Choir of King's College, CambridgeOther recording...

Why don’t Quakers celebrate Christmas?In short, Quakers believe that every day is holy, and that the religious themes ce...
12/13/2020

Why don’t Quakers celebrate Christmas?

In short, Quakers believe that every day is holy, and that the religious themes celebrated on days like Easter and Christmas should be celebrated every day. Robert Barclay, a Quaker contemporary of William Penn’s, once wrote that Quakers are “persuaded that all Days are alike holy in the Sight of God.” While he was arguing against the idea that Sundays are more holy than other days, early Quakers applied the same logic to holidays as well.

Pennsbury Manor’s ‘Christmas Countdown’ explores the history of Christmas in William Penn’s life and legacy. While Quakers don’t celebrate Christmas, Penn welcomed many settlers of other faiths who brought their own traditions to Pennsylvania. Join us every day for a new fun fact!

Did You Know: William Penn was not the only Quaker to govern an American colony; Penn and Robert Barclay helped found East Jersey, where Barclay served as governor from 1682-1688!

📖 This quote can be found in Barclay’s most famous book on Quaker theology; to read more, follow this link: https://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015030328853?urlappend=%3Bseq=331

To learn more about Barclay’s life, start here: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Robert-Barclay

Address

400 Pennsbury Memorial Rd
Morrisville, PA
19067

Opening Hours

Tuesday 09:00 - 17:00
Wednesday 09:00 - 17:00
Thursday 09:00 - 17:00
Friday 09:00 - 17:00
Saturday 09:00 - 17:00
Sunday 12:00 - 17:00

Telephone

(215) 946-0400

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Comments

Do you offer a virtual field trip for middle schoolers?
I have a question What is the name of the farm that sells the apple cider every year at Holly Night? My Aunt loves it and would like to make a trip to their store to get some Bc we drink it every year for Xmas
It's sad that my wife's family ancestral home is closed, we were going to visit to return the Penn's into there home for a few days. There is this false accusations that there line died out but this was recently proven to be mistaken perhaps Todd could add the genealogical information of the few direct surviving relatives and our family tree to the tour.
I was a volunteer at Pennsbury manor back in 82-85 I was only 12 and my dad work on the grounds and I would come with him on weekends and care for the animals . I loved volunteering there!!! I’m considering coming back as an animal volunteer if I get approved. When I was there, Rich and Alice were in charge of everything I did.i imagine they’ve been gone a long time. The horses were two gray ones, Angel and Tamberline. There was a sheep named Wilt and he was the boss sheep. Every morning the sheep would attack me when I was scooping out their food and filling their food bin. It was scary,but funny the first time I ever did it. Nobody told me the sheep would come running full speed at me for their breakfast and jump up all over me. It became really fun after the initial freaking out the first time I did it. So many great memories volunteering there. It’s beautiful and everyone was so nice to each other.
A huge thank you to the staff at Pennsbury Manor! They literally saved my life today. I was out for a ride and felt my sugar dropping rapidly. With no money in my pocket and a vending machine that doesn't accept debit cards, they gifted me $2 to get a soda. Your kindness will not be forgotten.
I love the Manor, I have been going there since I was a child. I usually go for my Birthday, in the Fall, and spend the day with a Picnic.
Unbelievable event