Pennsbury Manor | Upper Court Garden Project

Upper Court Garden Project

About the Project

The goal of the Upper Court Garden Project is to revitalize the formal upper court garden at Pennsbury Manor. New plantings, restored gravel pathways, and additional bench seating will create a beautiful and accessible space for peaceful reflection along the Delaware River. With a goal to raise $5,000 before Earth Day 2021 (April 22), every donation and every dollar counts! Help us revitalize this important interpretive space!


Upper Court History

As the original Pennsbury Manor fell into ruin by the eighteenth century, we do not know what William Penn’s original Upper Court looked like. However, an archaeological dig in the 1930s revealed the Upper Court’s historical footprint, providing landscape architect Thomas Sears a blank canvas on which to create his Colonial Revival landscape plan in the 1940s. Packed with colorful perennials, it was an impression of a historical garden—not an accurate recreation of one.

Over the years, Pennsbury Manor gardeners changed the Sears plan in favor of a more historically-accurate representation of a seventeenth-century courtyard. The garden beds were downsized to accommodate larger stretches of lawn and manicured topiaries replaced the overgrown shrubs.

Pennsbury Manor | Upper Court Garden Project

Project Impact

In 2021, the Upper Court will undergo another transformation. Combining elements of colonial and Colonial Revival design, the improved space will:

  • Orient and gather: Before groups enter the Manor House, we ask them to gather in the Upper Court. The improved Upper Court will provide a space where our visitors feel welcome and can anticipate their tours with excitement and curiosity.
  • Encourage historical thinking: As guides and educators, it is our job to help visitors and students think like historians. The Upper Court is the ideal place to introduce that concept to students of all grade levels. When the Upper Court Garden Project is complete, it will offer valuable clues about William Penn’s wealth and status, his interest in the natural world, and his vision for Pennsbury Manor. Guides will also use the space to facilitate discussions about the different types of labor at Pennsbury Manor: paid labor, indentured servitude, and slavery.
  • Provide a space for peaceful reflection: While Pennsbury Manor is currently closed due to the COVID-19 health crisis, we are committed to providing our visitors with safe and accessible outdoor spaces when we re-open. With its commanding view of the Delaware River, accessible bench seating, and beautiful plantings, the improved Upper Court will fulfill that need. This space will also honor William Penn’s Quaker faith and values, encouraging visitors to pause for peaceful reflection.
Pennsbury Manor | Upper Court Garden Project

Sponsor a Bench

Honor a loved one by sponsoring one of four NEW benches in the Upper Court! Your donation of $1,500 will cover the cost of building and maintaining the bench over its natural lifetime (approx. 10 years). Contact Historic Garden Interpreter Jessye DePaola at c-jdepaola@pa.gov to sponsor a bench!

Other Ways to Give

You can support the Upper Court Garden Project by DONATING ONLINE or by sending your donation to:

Pennsbury Manor
Attn: Upper Court Garden Project
400 Pennsbury Memorial Road
Morrisville, PA 19067

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