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Rockwood open house features lights, artisans, choirs

Betsy PriceCulture, Headlines


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Rockwood Mansion decorated for Christmas in 2020. Photo by Taya Dianna/New Castle County Community Services


Rockwood Park & Mansion’s Holiday Open House Friday and Saturday starts a month of free tours and a new exhibition in the mansion.

Tours, which usually come with a free, will be free in appreciation of the community’s support throughout 2021, which County Executive Matt Meyer called an exceptionally difficult year.

The Open House nights on Friday, Nov. 3, and Saturday, Nov. 4, will include its free winter festival with choir performances, thousands of lights, artisans selling their wares, food trucks, Santa and self-guided tours of the new “Coming Home: Treasures of Rockwood” exhibit.

The exhibit, which runs through Jan. 9, focuses on five tales of adventurous travel  by the families who lived in the mansion and brought home souvenirs for more than a century.

“Travel was important to all the generations of Rockwood and it was the way the world came into this treasure house,” said Ryan Grover, Rockwood’s new director. “While members of the Shipley and Bringhurst families collected mementos from local American and even British travels, they also explored the Caribbean, South America, Africa and the Middle East.”

One excerpt from the exhibition said that Rockwood founder Joseph Shipley for 30 years in Liverpool, England and decided to return to Wilmington, his birth place, in 1850 to retire.

“While making plans with his architect in Liverpool and his family in America to design and build the Rockwood Estate, he and his nephew Edward Bringhurst took the Grand Tour, an elaborate trip to study great art through Europe, on their way to returning stateside,” one part of the exhibit says. “Starting in England, they travelled through France and Italy collecting the fine and decorative arts that became centerpieces of Shipley’s new home.”

Among events are Rockwood are:

  • Free guided tours every every Friday and Saturday in December, including the exhibition.
  • Free self-guided tours every Thursday – Sunday  of the mansion’s first floor with highlights of “Coming Home: Treasures of Rockwood.”
  • Holiday Open House Friday and Saturday.
  • Holiday Lights from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Dec. 10, 11, 17, 18. Includes free self-guided tour of museum’s first floor and historic gardens illuminated by the lights of the season.

Rockwood’s grounds decorated for Christmas in 2020. Photo by Taya Dianna/New Castle County Community Services

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