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.