Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Bricks Laid by Washington Irving and Ivy from Kenilworth Castle at the Bolton Priory in Pelham Manor

Members of the family of Rev. Robert Bolton began building the lovely home known as "Bolton Priory" in Pelham Manor almost immediately after Bolton purchased the land for the residence in 1837. (The term “Priory” refers to a type of small English monastery – a term particularly suited as a loving label for the home of a former English clergyman.) Construction on the home reportedly was completed in 1838. Today the structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

To commemorate completion of the mansion, Washington Irving provided his friend, Robert Bolton with yellow bricks from the Old Dutch Church in Sleepy Hollow. Those bricks were left over from work to repair the church after a fire in 1836. The bricks were used to form the date “1838” above the main entrance to the Priory. Tradition says that Washington Irving laid the bricks with his own hands and planted ivy from Kennilworth Castle at the base of the Priory’s tower. Even today the progeny of that ivy reportedly can be found on and near the mansion grounds.

Sources: Bolton, Reginald Pelham, Bolton Priory at Pelham Manor, 7(3) The Quarterly Bulletin of the Westchester County Historical Society 54, 54 (Jul. 1931); A Short History of the Ancient Bolton Priory and its People, Whose Countless Good Works Helped Raise the Prosperous Parish of Pelham, County Life, June 1948, at 29, 29.

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