We had such a wonderful time with our visitors on Holly Nights this year!! The rain gave us a 5-hour window to enjoy our Friday night, and we were so excited to see so many visitors come out. This has been a long-standing tradition at Pennsbury Manor for at least 30 years, and both evenings turned out to be beautiful and full of holiday spirit.
We wanted to share some awesome photos of this year’s event:
Putting up the decorations!
Volunteers help offer demonstrations every year, including this fan-favorite – Pomander Balls are made by sticking oranges with cloves and rolling them in a mixture of cinnamin, nutmeg, and other spices
Cooking over the open-hearth for visitors – looks delicious!
Candlelight makes the 17th-century manor house come alive.
William Penn defeats the notorious pirate Captain Kidd in our classic 17th-century Mummer’s Play!
Our awesome blacksmiths working in the warmest spot on site – lucky guys, but try doing this on a hot August afternoon!
Thank you so much to everyone who came out for Holly Nights! We had between 80 and 120 volunteers participating each night (not including all our amazing performers!), so we owe all our success to their dedication and joyful holiday spirit.
Have a wonderful holiday season and we look forward to blogging with you in the New Year!
By Hannah Howard
Photographs courtesy of Tabitha Dardes, PR, and Joseph Long, volunteer
Back in May, we posted an article on the Joyner’s Trade. Now our intern Ray is exploring the blacksmithing tradition at Pennsbury and wants to share what he’s found!
A blacksmith in the time of William Penn was considered a highly skilled craftsman, someone who could provide a town or estate community with valuable tools and metal accoutrements. We know of a “smith” on the estate of Pennsbury Manor from a 1687 inventory and various letters that have survived. One list called for blacksmithing tools to be brought over by ship from England. Along with these tools, the shop was stocked with a bed, blankets, rugs, and two chests. This indicates that not only did a blacksmith work at Pennsbury, but also most likely lived above his shop. A worker with such skills would be essential on a working estate like Pennsbury, for he would be required to create, maintain or repair any object made of metal on the property. Along with his normal duties, we have reason to believe Penn’s “smith” also helped deliver mail. In a letter from local Quaker resident Phineas Pemberton to his wife Alice, he wrote that “this comes by the Govenor’s smith.”
During the excavation of the site in the 1930’s, many artifacts such as nails, latches, and hinges were found (on view in our exhibit!). Items such as these would have been manufactured by Penn’s “smith,” along with various tools and even shoes for horses. Today at Pennsbury, we have a reconstructed blacksmith shop with tools that would have been used in this pre-industrial setting. Every first Sunday from April-October, volunteer interpreters recreate the atmosphere of fire and clanging metal in their blacksmithing demonstrations for visitors.