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“Holiday Special Tour is always great!”
Review of Fonthill

Fonthill
Ranked #1 of 31 things to do in Doylestown
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Once the home of Henry Mercer (1856-1930,) this concrete castle boasts 44 rooms with interior walls, floors and ceilings adorned with a dazzling array of the artist’s original handcrafted tiles.
Bucks County, PA
Level 6 Contributor
107 reviews
38 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 56 helpful votes
“Holiday Special Tour is always great!”
Reviewed November 4, 2013

I've attended several outside events in tents, and a few tours inside the castle. Always a wonderful venue for any kind of event. I highly recommend the holiday tours for their beautiful historic decorations, back-in-time ambience and the enthusiastic and knowledgeable interpretation by volunteer docents. It's nearly impossible not to get into the holiday spirit walking through the magical, candle-lit castle passageways and Dickensian rooms. I do recommend spacing out these visits every few years to allow the program to be freshened up a bit. It would be a shame to allow such an experience to go stale, and as wonderful a job as they do, no one could be expected to keep coming up with all-new patter every year. Two tips: Wear layers so you can maintain a comfortable personal temperature, and by all means, wear comfortable shoes! You'll be walking on hard, cold concrete for at least an hour, including lots of steps. So ladies, seriously: I know you wanna be dressed in your holiday finery, but this is one time when you wanna leave the spiky heels at home. Besides, it'll be easier for you to approach the building over the bluestone drive, especially if it has snowed recently. Also: This is great for families with kids around ten or so, but as magical as it could be for littler kids, it could conceivably also be a little spooky, and the length of the tour probably will test the attention spans of younger kids. The other related issue is that there's nothing worse for any of the other attendees than the reverberations off the acoustically harsh concrete surfaces of a screaming child. Been there, done that...hope never to do it again.

Visited December 2012
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1 Thank PAWildheart
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Arizona
Level 5 Contributor
52 reviews
22 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 74 helpful votes
“An original house”
Reviewed September 30, 2013

This house is more like a museum than I could imagine as a home. It was fascinating to hear how & why it was built by Mercer. I loved our tour guide. He answered every question you had, nothing was off limits. It was such an odd home, that I'm glad we did not miss it.

Visited September 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank Ivy61
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Willingboro, New Jersey
Level 6 Contributor
101 reviews
67 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
“Stunning mansion, but not photographer friendly”
Reviewed September 15, 2013

Fonthill Castle is located in the quaint and very charming town of Doylestown, PA. The castle, built according to the vision of Henry Mercer, is stunning. The concrete architecture is full of curving walls and stairwells, and is covered with tile from Mercer's factory, as well as ancient tiles that have been preserved as though in a museum. Although we LOVED visiting Fonthill, there are a few things to keep in mind if you visit... 1) no photography inside the house (where all the tiles are). If you want interior pictures, you'll have to purchase a book from the gift shop. 2) there are a lot of stairs, some a bit steep. 3) No air conditioning, so go on a day that's overcast so you don't roast inside the house. All in all, a great piece of American history hidden in a small Pennsylvania town.

Visited August 2013
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2 Thank 34AnneK34
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Willingboro, New Jersey
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“A maze of a house”
Reviewed September 4, 2013

Mercer built this house with the help of his friends. It's poured concrete (his preferred medium) with all of the rooms one would expect, arranged in a way one would NOT expect. It is fun to explore, and more fun to explore on days when the normally inaccessible areas are available to the public!

Visited March 2013
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1 Thank pingerman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Alexandria, Virginia
Level 6 Contributor
154 reviews
24 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 50 helpful votes
“Concrete castle features Henry Mercer's wonderful tiles”
Reviewed August 20, 2013

My son had discovered the Mercer Museum and when I searched it on Trip Advisor, I was pleased to find out about his home, Fonthill Castle, and the Moravian Tile Works!

I was easily able to make the recommended reservation for the tour before the trip. The friendly woman explained that I could get a discount by combining my trip to Fonthill and the Mercer Museum on a combo ticket, but my son was better off using his college student discount for separate tickets.

We had about a dozen people on our tour. I thought the tour guide was friendly and knowledgeable, although her spiel was a bit canned. However, if you have any questions, be sure to ask because I found out a lot more about items and facts she did not mention as she described each room.

The rooms are really amazing, filled with tiles on the walls, floors, and ceilings that Mercer designed or collected. There is a lot to look at! The place is really a maze, and my son and I agreed we would have loved to be given the chance to just wander the place ourselves (which you do at Mercer Museum!).

You are not allowed to take photos inside the castle. We decided this was probably because they did not want to stretch out the tour -- everyone would be taking photos of rooms and tiles all the time! I hope that the museum does conduct photo tours occasionally because these would be quite worthwhile. We did go out on a balcony at one point and were able to take photos of the castle's turrets and surrounding grounds.

I bought a book about Fonthill Castle and this had some good photos of the more decorated rooms and gave me some insights into Mercer.

I recommend visiting the castle before going to the museum as it helps put Mercer's collections into context. However, I agree with folks who mentioned that the museum (and castle) were quite warm in the summer. We took two days on this trip but perhaps if you were here only for one day, you would not want to visit the museum in the afternoon as it was a bit stifling by the time we finished our morning/early afternoon tour.

Be sure to take time to walk around the outside of the castle. You get some great views of Mercer's own architectural design -- including a back wall with a variety of window shapes!

Visited August 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank Alexandrian1026
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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