A Holiday Visit to Fonthill Castle
The HenFeathers team visited the one of a kind Fonthill Castle fully decorated now for Christmas a beautiful masterpiece of tile and innovative cement architecture, with the feel of a medieval Harry Potter castle in Doylestown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Placed amidst a picturesque landscape, stands Fonthill Castle, a captivating and mystical testament to the architectural ingenuity and artistic vision of Henry Chapman Mercer. Built between 1908 and 1912, this unique poured concrete structure stands as a remarkable blend of Medieval, Gothic, and Byzantine architectural elements, embodying Mercer's passion for history, craftsmanship, and the decorative arts. Henry Chapman Mercer was an archaeologist, anthropologist, ceramicist tile maker, scholar, and antiquarian (confirmed) and was deeply fascinated by medieval architecture and the decorative arts. Fonthill Castle was the personal home of and is a showplace for his famed Moravian tiles made during the height of the American Arts and Crafts Movement produced in his Mercer Tile Works next to Fonthill creating exceptional tiles sold throughout the U.S. and the world. Notables such as Henry Ford, the DuPont Family, and Isabella Stewart Gardner (Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston), visited to select tiles.
The castle's exterior boasts an array of towers reminiscent of medieval castles mixed with beautifully constructed concrete windows which illuminate the interior of the castle. Intricate ornamental details, including a wide array of tile mosaics, inspiring windows, and sculpted friezes, adorn the walls, reflecting Mercer's keen eye for design and his appreciation for craftsmanship.
Fonthill Castle Front.
Fonthill Castle Front (night) with Conservatory.
Fonthill Castle (side view).
-Patios & Terraces (Attico Con Terrazzo)
There are several patios and terraces around the castle. At the top of the castle there is also a number of winding staircases that lead to terraces, a perfect place to appreciate the beautiful landscape around the castle. In Italy there is such an appreciation for patios and terraces that they created the saying “attico con terrazzo”, which roughly translates to attic with a terrace! We believe that this saying embodies this terrace perfectly. Although we will have to come back to see the terrace for ourselves in warmer months we were able to see the beautiful winding stair case that goes up to the terrace (see below).
Spiral Staircase to Terrace (Attico Con Terrazzo).
Garage & Terrace Pavilion.
-Spring House with Tile Roof
The spring house can be seen through windows of the house and served as a place to keep perishable foods fresh before refrigerators. Today, the spring house functions well as an eye catching folly! (See below).
The castle's interior is equally captivating, showcasing Mercer's eclectic taste and his passion for collecting. The Saloon room, the castle's centerpiece, features a soaring vaulted ceiling and an impressive fireplace adorned with Mercer's own tiles from the famous Mercer Tile Works. Inspired by nature, the columns in the saloon are an ode to trees! When you look up at the columns you have a similar feeling to when you look up at trees from the ground of a forest. Walls in many places in the home are lined with shelves displaying Mercer’s vast collection of ceramics, prints, and artifacts, offering a glimpse into his intellectual curiosity and artistic sensibilities.
Tiled Fireplace with Christmas Tree & Floating Candles.
Column with Mercer Tiles.
Garden Conservatory Ceiling.
Garden Conservatory with Mercer Tiles.
Fonthill Tiles in the Saloon Room.
Mercer Tiles Wall Story.
Mercer Tiles on Column.
Mercer Tiles Around Window.
Garden Conservatory with Mercer Tiles on Vaulted Ceiling & Christmas Tree.
Garden Conservatory with Mercer Tiles & Christmas Tree.
Mercer Tiles & cast planter in Garden Conservatory
Mercer Tiles on Column.
Mercer Tiles Above Fireplace.
Mercer Tiles Above Doorway & Christmas Tree.
Mercer Tiles on Tree Columns & Christmas Tree.
Mercer Tiles on Tree Columns & Christmas Tree (night).
Saloon Room Windows & Christmas Tree.
Fireplace with Mercer Tiles & Christmas Tree.
Tiled Roof Springhouse below Terrace.
Column Tree Forest.
Window in Bookcase.
Fonthill Castle, A Treasured Legacy
Today, Fonthill Castle is part of the Mercer Museum and Fonthill Castle Historic Site and Tile Works, which works to preserve Mercer's one of a kind property and legacy. Visitors can explore the castle's evocative interiors, admire Mercer's artistic creations, and gain insights into his life and his contributions to the decorative arts. Fonthill Castle stands as an enduring symbol of Henry Chapman Mercer's creativity, craftsmanship, and unwavering dedication to his artistic vision. Its unique architectural form and its rich collection of artifacts offer a captivating glimpse into the mind of a man who dared to dream big and left behind a lasting legacy of beauty and innovation.
A Guide to the Grounds of Fonthill Castle: Grounds Guide
About Fonthill Castle: About Fonthill Castle