Rockwood Museum and Park

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Rockwood Museum and Park
Rockwood DE.JPG
Rockwood House, December 2010
Type Public Park, Garden & Museum
Location 610 Shipley Road
Wilmington, Delaware 19809
Coordinates 39°46′21″N 75°31′15″W / 39.77250°N 75.52082°W / 39.77250; -75.52082Coordinates: 39°46′21″N 75°31′15″W / 39.77250°N 75.52082°W / 39.77250; -75.52082
Area 29 hectares (72 acres)
Created 1851-1854
Operated by New Castle County
Rockwood Museum and Park is located in Delaware
Rockwood Museum and Park
Rockwood Museum and Park is located in the US
Rockwood Museum and Park
Location 610 Shipley Rd., Wilmington, Delaware
Area 162 acres (66 ha)
Built 1851 (1851)-1854
Architect Williams, George
Architectural style Gothic Revival, Rural Gothic
NRHP reference # 76000579[1]
Added to NRHP July 12, 1976
Status Open daily:
Tours given Wednesday-Sunday 10-4, last tour departs at 3 p.m.

Rockwood is an English-style country estate and museum located in Wilmington, Delaware. Built between 1851-1854 by banker Joseph Shipley, Rockwood is an excellent example of Rural Gothic Revival Architecture.[2] It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.[1]


Rockwood Mansion was built between 1851-1854 for Joseph Shipley, a merchant banker originally from Wilmington. The Mansion was Shipley's retirement home. Shipley spent most of his life in Liverpool, England where he became wealthy. Rockwood Mansion was inspired by Wyncote, Joseph Shipley's English country house designed by George Williams. Shipley had Williams design Rockwood Mansion, though he had never seen the site. Joseph Shipley moved his entire household from England bringing his favorite dog and horse (Toby and Branker), as well as gardener Robert Shaw and housekeeper Audrey Douglas.

After Joseph Shipley's death, Rockwood eventually became the property of his great nephew Edward Bringhurst Jr. in 1891. Bringhurst with his wife Anna and their three younger children Mary, Edith and Edward moved into Rockwood the next year. The Bringhurst's eldest daughter Elizabeth Bringhurst Galt Smith, affectionately known as Bessie, was married and living in a castle in Ireland at the time. Bessie was responsible for much of the decorative features of the Mansion during this period. The mansion currently represents the 1890s when the Bringhurst family moved into Rockwood, though much of Joseph Shipley's furniture (imported from England) is still is in place at Rockwood.

The estate passed to Mary Bringhurst who lived to age 100, and left the mansion to her niece Nancy Sellers Hargraves, who left it to an unnamed non-profit for the enjoyment of present and future generations. New Castle County received the mansion and acreage in 1973, with the Friends of Rockwood as caretakers. The mansion went under extensive restoration by New Castle County in 1999. The 72 acres of Rockwood Mansion Park includes the Mansion & Conservatory, Porter's Lodge, Gardener's Cottage, and Barn & Carriage House.


The six acre historic garden of Rockwood is surrounded by a ha-ha (a sunken wall used on English estates instead of a fence to keep livestock away from the house, so it appears that the lawns are continuous). The landscape is referred to as Gardenesque, a style that is characterized by long vistas, curving paths, and trees and shrubs bordering the lawn.[3]

In 2009 the University of Delaware acquired Rockwood's archives as a gift from New Castle County.[4]

On television[edit]

Rockwood was featured on an episode of My Ghost Story airing on the Biography Channel on October 29, 2011.[5]The mansion was also featured on a season 11 episode of Ghost Hunters.


The Mansion is open 10am to 4pm Wednesday through Sunday, tours are available on the hour with the last tour departing at 3PM. Tours are $10 for adults, and $4 for children. The Park has lighted walking trails, and the park is open dawn to dusk, daily. Trail maps and self-guided Historic Landscape Garden tour brochures are available at the mansion Wednesday - Sunday 10am - 4pm. The Mansion is closed on major holidays.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ Richard E. May and Gary Smith, (January 1976). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Rockwood" (PDF).  and Accompanying six photos
  3. ^ Rockwood. The Brandywine, retrieved January 29, 2012
  4. ^ University of Delaware Library Receives Rockwood Archives. University of Delaware, retrieved January 29, 2012
  5. ^ “Haunted” Delaware mansion making TV debut. Delaware Online, retrieved January 29, 2012
  6. ^ Rockwood Park & Museum - Visitor Information & Hours of Operation. The NCCDE Website, retrieved December 14, 2011


  • Vincent, Gilbert T. (1998). Romantic Rockwood: A Rural Gothic Villa Near Wilmington, Delaware. Wilmington, Del.: Friends of Rockwood, Inc. ISBN 1892420589. 

External links[edit]