Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tea And Symphony At The Highlands

It has been a long winter, I know everyone thinks the same.  On the way to work for months there had been a sign  strung up Tea and Symphony at the Highlands Sunday 23rd February, then for at least a month it was buried under a snow pile, so I totally forgot about it until some brave soul resurrected the sign out of the snow.  So last week I phoned to see if there were any places and there were, so hubby, friend and I decided to go.  I meant to go last year, but did not.

It was a lovely sunny afternoon, even though the parking lot was just mud, Mr. B parked the car so us girls were dropped at the pathway.  Just lovely to get out and do something a little different.  In fact that has been one of my new year resolutions, for want of a better word, to take hold of the opportunity here and now.  Not say I'll do that another time, you never know when another time will come.

The Copeland String Quartet Chamber Music Concert with guest performers of Dr. Cecilia Kang, Clarinet and Amy Leonard, Viola.

They played Clarinet Quintet K581 In A Major by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Viola Quintet, K515 in C Major.

I have never been to a live performance like this, very soothing to ones soul.

In the Intermission they had Afternoon Tea.  Some of what was left above.

The Tea urn lady.  I did go back for a second cup, just right.

The Highlands was first owned by a Quaker, this area in Pennsylvania was settled by a lot of Quakers, a lady at The Highlands, was telling us, a Quaker could not just have a second house for the sake of having it, even to escape the Yellow Fever, so it was a working farm.
Wishing to provide his family with a refuge from the yellow fever epidemics sweeping Philadelphia, Anthony Morris (1766-1860), a wealthy politician and merchant, purchased just over 200 acres of land in Whitemarsh, Montgomery County, in 1794. Construction of the elaborate country estate, “The Highlands” was completed by 1796. Morris suffered extreme financial difficulties and in 1808 was forced to sell The Highlands to Daniel Hitner (1765-1841). Hitner sold the property and its accumulated 300+ acres to a Philadelphia wine merchant, George Sheaff (1779-1851) in 1813.

During the Sheaff family ownership, which spanned more than a century, there were numerous improvements made both to the Georgian mansion and to the landscape. After George Sheaff’s death in 1851. His heirs sold part of the estate and the youngest son, John, retained 59 acres including the mansion and adjoining outbuildings.

In 1917, two years after the death of the last Sheaff heir, the property was sold to Miss Caroline Sinkler (1860-1949), a native South Carolinian with strong ties to Philadelphia.

The house and gardens had deteriorated, but through the efforts of Miss Sinkler, the property regained its elegance and prominence as an historical treasure. 
Miss Sinkler’s niece, Emily Sinkler Roosevelt, and her husband Nicholas, purchased the property in 1941. The Roosevelts gave the property to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1957.

In 1975, The Highlands Historical Society formed to preserve, restore and interpret the historic mansion and grounds from 1794 to the present.

Above what it looks like in Spring time.

The murals are in fact French wallpaper depicting on the right the Hudson Valley and the nearest is Boston Harbor.  There were two large ones opposite depicting the natural arch bridge in Virginia along with Niagara Falls side by side, some license was taken here.  Also an Indian mural, but I'm racking my brains on that one. Louise and I loved all the archways and fan light windows.

Mark Ward, Cello.

Eliezar Gutman Israeli-born and a member of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, as were all the Quartet.

Thomas Jackson, Violin and Nina Cottman, Viola.

The Copeland Quartet and visiting Viola, Amy Leonard.  My favourite was actually the first piece with the Clarinet, I love to listen to the clarinet.

Mr B. and I.

Some of the grounds around The Highlands.

In May they are having a Community Day with historic games, 18th century style ice cream and Colonial dancing, with costumed guides, so Louise and I hope to go to that, sounds fun, plus the trees and flowers should look beautiful.



  1. I love live music. With tea, beautiful surroundings and good company what could be more relaxing. Glad you had a good afternoon. Must go to our local lunchtime concert with soup in the interval.

  2. What a lovely setting for a tea!


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