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Step back to a time when Christmas Day was only the beginning of the season! Learn about 18th-century Yuletide traditions and customs. Bring your friends, family, and guests to celebrate the season during this popular annual event!

Yuletide Tours are conducted like an “Open House.” Visitors may arrive anytime between opening and 45 minutes prior to closing and tour the mansion at their own pace.

$10 adults, $8 seniors (65+) and youth 6-17, and free for children 5 and under.

Step back to a time when Christmas Day was only the beginning of the season! Learn about 18th-century Yuletide traditions and customs. Bring your friends, family, and guests to celebrate the season during this popular annual event!

Yuletide Tours are conducted like an “Open House.” Visitors may arrive anytime between opening and 45 minutes prior to closing and tour the mansion at their own pace.

$10 adults, $8 seniors (65+) and youth 6-17, and free for children 5 and under.

Stephen Bradney of the 1st Regiment Flying Camp of Lancaster – Captain Joseph Work’s will be on the Rock Ford grounds conducting periodic firing demonstrations and living history. Mortar firing demonstrations will be conducted periodically throughout the day and will be held in the meadow. This activity is weather-permitting and open to the public.

Rock Ford volunteers will “plant a maypole” to honor our friend and neighbor, Dr. Edward Hand.  Join the fun!  A bagpiper will lead our procession to where we raise the maypole and Rock Ford’s dancers will lead our visitors in traditional maypole dances.  Bring a picnic lunch and spend the day!

The maypole procession and dancing will commence at 10:30, 12:00 and 1:30.

Practiced for generations in countries such as Germany and England, the maypole dance is a spring ritual long known to Western Europeans. Dancing was done around a pole or slender tree garnished with flowers and ribbons.  The maypole was introduced to Edward Hand’s native Ireland by English and Scottish settlers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  In the early 1800’s, an Irish woman gave an account of maypole celebrations which were held “when a number of persons are desirous, for any particular reason, to honour some of their superiors; as for instance, the tenants of an estate for any act of favour shown them by the landlord, or the like…by planting a maypole before his door.”  The dances performed were “really a very pretty sight.”

As a civic leader, Ireland native Dr. Edward Hand was known to be compassionate and sensitive to the needs of Lancaster’s poor, and he treated many patients without charge.  He was among the community leaders calling for “an act to provide for the erection of houses for the employment and support of the Poor in Counties of Chester and Lancaster.”   The act required the election of six reputable citizens to serve as directors, and Hand was among those elected. The resulting Lancaster Almshouse and Hospital was built of stone and still stands.

Image: A painting circa 1750 in Elmbridge Museum, Weybridge, May Pole Dancing

In letters written home to his wife Katherine while serving in the Revolutionary War, General Edward Hand would address her as “My Dearest Kitty.” Later, as the mistress of Rock Ford Plantation, “Kitty Hand” hosted many elegant teas for family and friends. During Rock Ford’s children’s event “It’s Tea Time” on Sunday, April 7 from 2 pm to 4 pm, Kitty Hand welcomes guests to an afternoon tea at Rock Ford, featuring delightful desserts, tea tasting and etiquette fun such as the Language of the Fan. Guests are encouraged to wear fancy accessories such as gloves, hats and jewelry. After the tea, guests will be led on a short tour of the Rock Ford mansion to “find the hidden tea cups” in the mansion’s rooms.

This event will be held rain or shine in the Rock Ford barn and mansion. In the event of rain, guests are asked to bring umbrellas as they will be walking from the barn to the mansion.

Reservations may be made by clicking here. Cost is $10 per child and $12 per adult. The reservation deadline is Friday, April 5. This event is recommended for children ages 5 and up and their family members. Children must be accompanied by at least one responsible adult.

Are you interested in learning how Edward Hand built Rock Ford, his gorgeous Georgian home, in 1792? Do you want to know how masonry, surveying, building and history inspire a day of fun? Then spend the day with us at Rock Ford on Saturday, April 6 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for The House That Hand Built. Wes Swanson, mason, teacher and historian, will share his knowledge of history, building and even give you an opportunity to “throw and strike” a brick! The program is geared toward middle and high schoolers who will also experience surveying, estimating and studying the Georgian style of architecture. Students will apply and practice their mathematics and critical thinking skills to solve problems related to rise-and-run, porch-fall and occasional errors that 18th century builders could have made.

Rock Ford is the preserved 18th century home of Edward Hand, a doctor who also served as Adjutant General to George Washington in the American Revolution. The House That Hand Built is a collaboration of the Junior League of Lancaster (JLL) and Rock Ford Plantation whose partnership began in 1957 when the JLL purchased the house and one year later established the Rock Ford Foundation to restore and maintain the property that looks much the same as it did when Hand built it.

The cost to attend the program is $10 and will be limited to 35 students. Payment may be made through www.rockford.yapsody.com then please email dnsmith875@gmail.com and request a registration form. Deadline for enrollment is March 28, 2019.

Attendees should report to the Rock Ford barn and bring their own lunches and beverages. This program will be held rain or shine so please dress for the weather. Scholarships will be offered to students in need. If an adult chooses to remain with his or her child for the program, we ask for a pay-as-you-will donation in addition to the student admission fee.

 

This month’s Stories in the Barn will have a St. Patrick’s theme. The program will be held in the historic bank barn on the grounds of Rock Ford Plantation. Following the story, children will participate in a fun activity. Stories will relate to Early America.

Children must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

This is a pay-what-you-will event.

Additional Stories in the Barn are planned for November 3, 2019 and December 7, 2019.

Reservations are not required for this event.

In the event of inclement weather, please visit our website or call our office at 717-392-7223.

Come celebrate George Washington’s birthday at Rock Ford Plantation! This celebration, designed for children ages 4 through 10 years, will be held on Sunday, February 10, 2019, beginning at 2:00 PM in the Rock Ford Barn. Spend time learning about our nation’s first President through approximately two hours of Colonial-themed crafts, games, stories and other activities.  As an added bonus, there will be a special guest appearance by “George Washington.”  The children will also sing Happy Birthday and enjoy cake and ice cream.

Reservations are required and are limited to a maximum of 25 guests.  The cost is $10 per child.  Children must be accompanied by a parent during the event.  In case of inclement weather, the snow date is Sunday, February 24 at 2:00 PM.  For reservations, please click here.

A joint production with the Lancaster Marionette Theatre, this approximately one-hour show will be staged in the mansion and will be a fun, whimsical and touching celebration of the life and times of General Edward Hand and his family featuring the talents of “Man of the Theatre” Robert Brock. The Unrestored Room on the second floor of Rock Ford will be transformed into a theatre, complete with lighting and seating, and additional rooms will be open and lit theatrically. See and experience Rock Ford like you’ve never seen it before!

This event is geared towards teens and adults and not suitable for younger children.

All proceeds benefit educational programming at Rock Ford and at the Lancaster Marionette Theatre.

For complete details and to make reservations, please click here.

A joint production with the Lancaster Marionette Theatre, this approximately one-hour show will be staged in the mansion and will be a fun, whimsical and touching celebration of the life and times of General Edward Hand and his family featuring the talents of “Man of the Theatre” Robert Brock. The Unrestored Room on the second floor of Rock Ford will be transformed into a theatre, complete with lighting and seating, and additional rooms will be open and lit theatrically. See and experience Rock Ford like you’ve never seen it before!

This event is geared towards teens and adults and not suitable for younger children.

All proceeds benefit educational programming at Rock Ford and at the Lancaster Marionette Theatre.

For complete details and to make reservations, please click here.