The hubby and I just celebrated our 22nd anniversary with a day trip to Bryn Athyn, PA. The name means Hill of Unity. It was an area settled by the New Church community which is a Christian faith tradition derived from Episcopalian teachings. We were looking to take the Highlights Tour of “The Castle”, the family home of the Pitcairn Family who were pillars in their community. Their home was built to resemble a European medieval style palace and its Great Hall certainly fits the bill with a towering ceiling about three stories high. Now known as Glencairn Museum, it houses its builder’s impressive collection of sacred art dating back to ancient Egypt.
We arrived at midday and had lunch at Ricardo’s, chosen because it serves Mediterranean food. Specifically Portuguese and Italian, how perfect for our special day! We enjoyed our food and our BYOB of Chardonnay on their deck. Food was quite good, though I didn’t choose any of the Portuguese offerings. I would totally try the Bitoque should we be return – just wasn’t in the mood for steak with a fried egg this particular time. My only complaint is they did not serve bread. Sacrilege! Don’t know of any Portuguese or Italian restaurant that does not serve bread. I’ll have to remember to bring my own bottle and bread next time.
Afterward we drove up the road to Glencairn. The Bryn Athyn Cathedral, also built by the Pitcairns, is right next door and we headed there first. I was delighted to see a beautifully carved landscape rock with some touching verses on marriage and thought again how perfect for our special day! The cathedral alone is worth a visit and we were lucky to get a quick look inside as it was soon closing to the public for a wedding.
Walking back to Glencairn, we stopped first at a peaceful courtyard with flowering trees and a fountain, in the style of Old World monasteries. Once inside everywhere one looks there are marvelous works of art from statues, reliefs, stained glass windows, mosaics and artifacts. The home boasts beautiful attention to detail from its art and architecture to its underlying message of what the Pitcairns valued most: their faith, family, community and country. The biggest and most welcome surprise to me was how Catholic the home felt. There were several examples of Marian art in the Great Hall. The Highlights Tour did not hit on every collection in the home, as it has many from different times and cultures, but it did show what it’s named for (the highlights) which included visiting the family’s living quarters: the library, private family chapel, master bedroom and bath along with its accompanying sleeping porch, the top of the tower and its commanding view of the cathedral, countryside and Philadelphia skyline in the distance as well as the gallery of ancient Egyptian art and artifacts and the Christian gallery with pieces from the Middle Ages.
What a blessed afternoon we had. The expected rain held off until we set off for home. It was a lovely way to celebrate an anniversary!