Monday, March 13, 2017

MORE FROM THE FAIR HAMLET

I know next to nothing about my forebears. Only, I’m told, they were some combination of English, Welsh and maybe Scot.  Given that, and assuming there really is something called genetic memory, perhaps that’s why I’ve always felt so completely at home in Bucks County. Stoic field stone houses, the narrow country roads, vintage antique cars, and irresistible little hamlets in this eastern part of Pennsylvania look as if they had been plucked straight from a Merchant Ivory production. From my first time here and then moving here,  years ago,  I loved it. Instantly. Was absolutely smitten and remain so. There’s much to love.  Bucks is a hotbed of history. A Revolutionary War devotee will most definitely find fulfillment here. While there is a wealth of charming B&Bs in Bucks County my comfort station last weekend of choice was the luxurious Inn at Barley Sheaf Farm.

Located in Buckingham, a scenic six miles from New Hope and Lambertville, Barley Sheaf was once the home of playwright George Kaufman and the weekend retreat for the literary likes of Lillian Hellman, John Steinbeck and Moss Hart. Harpo Marx, a regular there, added comic relief. And right around the corner, and down a couple roads was the home of Oscar Hammerstein. Originally the property was part of a land grant made to William Penn in 1681 by the Crown of England. A good friend of mine had her engagement party in the form of a high tea here last weekend, so I decided to get a room and stay , even though I only live 9 miles away. Since I was the only queen and male to attend the party, I decided to make a night of it and stay over night in style. And hard to believe it is almost spring....snow , and heavy squalls at times, covered things. Weird weather, it would go from over cast and snowing to sunny the next and by Sunday the snow was but gone!!!
The graceful manor house dates to 1740, but the amenities are pure 21st century. What began as a sturdy farmhouse has morphed into a beautifully furnished inn with plush suites featuring lavish drapery, sybaritic baths, private balconies, irresistible sitting rooms, impressive antiques and enough featherbeds and down comforters to keep me and all the houseboys warm.
There was also the various farm animals like goats and miniature horses to visit with in the barn.
Eventually I did leave a bit Saturday to potter about favorite Bucks County spots. New Hope and Lambertville, with all their shops, galleries and restaurants are only a few minutes drive away. Lahaska, is a mere mile from the inn. The wee town is a collection of buildings, old and new, housing about 65 specialty shops and restaurants. My favorite pastime, however, is getting lost in the countryside. If you have ever been here, you'll know it's  a grand web of narrow roads that run from town to town, past stately homes, through covered bridges, and along well-kept farmland furnished with bank barns.
It all looks old and reliable, tidy and organized. I feel reassured that history is taken seriously here and preserved, which is nice. I also ran by  Fonthill , in nearby Doylestown.
If for no other reason, you should travel to Bucks County to visit Fonthill, a concrete castle,  part gothic, part medieval, part Byzantine in style, Fonthill was the home of Henry Chapman Mercer, a man of eclectic tastes and eccentricities. He is reputed to be one of the first to build with reinforced concrete and it could be said he might have gone a bit too far when constructing his home. Walls, pillars, ceilings, windowframes, even some furniture in this unique house are made of concrete. Apparently he feared fire. The house is a showcase of Mercer’s many interests. A main one being the ceramic tiles he designed and manufactured at his own tile works, The Moravian Pottery and Tile Works where Mercer’s tiles are still manufactured sits also on the vast land. My rooms bath even had some tile on the vanity and in the vanity intself.

It was a lovely weekend and only one bump in the night. I have no idea though if I was visited by a ghost in the night or it was just a dream though.

31 comments:

  1. I am glad your serene highness had a nice weekend.

    SNOW DAY FROM WORK TOMORROW!

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  2. Another great travelog! I'm sure only nice ghosts visit... :-)

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  3. I have been to history drenched Philadelphia many times, but I especially love when you do these post from your neck of the woods. It must be the next best thing next to actually living in the English countywide. Next time I'm up their I need to explore your neck of the woods.

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  4. My understanding is that only the civilised partake of afternoon tea. Glad to see you kept your end up.
    JP

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  5. What gorgeous photos! The entire place is my idea of perfection.

    BTW- whenever anybody mentions George Kaufman I immediately think of Mary Astor's blue diary....

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    1. That's why I keep my hidden away!!!!! I have heard stories of Mary Astor staying at George's home on many occasion. Its quite a beautiful house. He also hosted many of the Algonquin Round Table regulars, include Dorothy Parker, who later also bought a home here. It was a lovely artist colony because of them. To this day, we still have to campy racy and quirky residents or artist, musicians and writers and poets. I love it.

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    2. I have also read when the Kauffman, Parker and Hammerstein circles crossed, there was a hellva of a party where I good time was had by all.

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  6. We here is Philly take for granted the beautiful area in Bucks County and how close it is to us. So close, but feels like a totally different country. Its amazingly romantic.

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    1. Your right. We were there once and found it incredibly romantic and something for every taste.

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  7. I hope, at least, that it was a gay ghost who "bumped" you.

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  8. Both houses look rather intriguing, but even more so is pic #7, where there appears to be a miniature goat riding on the back of a miniature pony... Jx

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  9. Great weekend! Your lucky to have such a quant historic, yet progressly forward area to live in. We were astounded by the number of famous people who were are theree. And its so darn pretty.

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  10. What great post! I couldn't agree more with you. We have been pass Barley Sheaf but haven't had the pleasure yet of an overnight stay. Only the restaurant which was excellent. Bucks county is definitely a well kept Pennsylvania gem.

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  11. Fun weekend!!! I'm guessing maybe you did get accosted in your sleep by perhaps one of Mr Kauffman's past gay guests! I've read your area is supposedly one of the countries most haunted areas.

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  12. Beautiful photos, so much history, makes me want to book a vacation and visit the area. But after all the snow is gone....

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    1. Highs tea? Castles? Quaint charming countryside? Are you sure your in this country? Lovely weekend. I too am now preparing for another huge snow storm....suppose to get over 28" from last week's 15".

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    2. Stephen, if you love history, then you'd love this area. I am distantly related to Aaron Burr who hid out in New Hope. And I need up here too. How weird.much George Washington history here to like the site where here crossed the Delaware. Not to mention all the history in Philly.

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  13. And you wonder why I pester all the time to get a room ready to visit. I love your area.

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  14. I've always wanted to live in a castle. I don't think my ancestors were ever even allowed on castle grounds... even as servants!

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    1. The thing about Fonthill. With no heating, the inside is always the temperature it was outside two days ago. Not I good place to tour in winter. It other landmark the Mercer Museum is the same.

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  15. It truly is a beautiful area o four country. Love the idea of the literary folks gathering - like they did in Paris. You don't hear of that now - technology has made us stray from face to face intercourse (as in talking, not fucking....tsk, tsk, tsk. LOL) Hugs!!!!

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    1. I have long said, I was born in the wrong time.

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  16. I absolutely could make myself at home in your neck of the woods. And I love the post when you feature some of the greats who were in the past there and the present. I hope your surviving the snow storm I hear your getting.

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  17. Absolutely loved the post I love when you do post like this....gives me ideas and the want to travel. I need a Bucks County trip one day again.

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  18. Your always up to something interesting. I love all the stories of that area. I would love to here more of them. What a cool history the place has. Could you still sense a feel for them luminaries?

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  19. I'm a sucker for an afternoon tea, and that one looks delicious! As does Fonthill Castle in the snow - a bit like an old friend's gingerbread house, actually...

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  20. Great post! There is nothing of interest in my part of the woods like yours. Fonthill is quite amazing to see, I remember your post from before.

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  21. I'm going to need to stay at Barley Sheaf the next time I'm in the area.

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Go ahead darling, tell me something fabulous!

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