Driving through Germantown one day I stopped at the Cliveden house and was wondering what the heck I was doing there? It isn’t the most exciting looking place to look at and there was no way it was as hip as nearby Mount Airy or quaint as nearby Chestnut Hill. I mean, staring at the Cliveden house didn’t seem like something a cool, handsome, single guy would be doing on a Saturday afternoon. Then it dawned on me, that I’m ugly and lame and it all suddenly made sense to me why I am there.
Kidding. I am ugly and lame but, trust me, cool and beautiful people like you will enjoy a trip to Cliveden as well.
Here’s a little background…. The Cliveden grounds used to be owned by the Chew family. It served as their Revolutionary War-era summer home when they were away from their regular home in Philadelphia. The Chews were both influential and controversial during the years we struggled for independence. They were influential in legal in business matters and controversial as the the Chew family didn’t fully support the revolution. Historically they hold some infamy too as supporters of slavery.
Flash forward to the present time and the Cliveden grounds is now a registered historic site. While the Chew family history might have some of you falling asleep or removing my website from your coveted bookmark space, trust me, it really is interesting. In addition to their history, there is something even more interesting about Cliveden…. the battle of Germantown.
The battle of Germantown was waged all over the immediate area but the real dramatic part of the battle occurred right on the Cliveden grounds, right inside the Cliveden house! It is a really interesting story that I think could easily be made into a great movie someday. I won’t bore you with the details but if you want to learn a little more, I linked an article toward the end of this post that I wrote about visiting Cliveden when they do the Germantown Battle reenactment every year. For now though, let’s skip the annual reenactment and just talk about a routine day visiting Cliveden.
Cliveden is a cool place to divert your afternoon. It won’t take but an hour or so of your time and will only cost about $10 bucks. You can park nearby and walk the Cliveden grounds. You can tour the house the Chew family lived in as well as learn about the British occupation of the home during the battle of Germantown. When you tour the house, keep an eye on the walls not only for some really impressive old paintings but for the bullet holes that still remain all these years later from the fight.
If you are thinking of going, I’d suggest doing it as part of other activities nearby. If you are planning on hiking the Wissahickon or visiting nearby Mount Airy or Chestnut Hill for a bite, a stroll, some theater or shopping, be sure to swing on down to Cliveden on Germantown Avenue. This historical site will give you something new to talk about.
The tour will also take you to the nearby carriage house which features a dynamic video that further explains the relevance of the site.
Cliveden is open year round but be sure to make a special, additional trip in October. For one weekend in October, Cliveden hosts the reenactment of the battle of Germantown. I wrote an article on Germantown reenactment here.
Where is Cliveden?
Cliveden is about 10 miles from Norristown, just a mile or two from Chestnut Hill.