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A sleuthing tradition

Pennsbury Manor brings back history-inspired escape rooms Sept. 27 and Oct. 4

Source: Pennsbury Manor

For all of you spooky season aficionados, Pennsbury Manor – the former Morrisville estate of Pennsylvania’s founder William Penn – is once again offering an experience that’s simultaneously suspenseful and historical.

On Friday, Sept. 27 and Oct. 4, Pennsbury is combining murder mystery and theater when it hosts two escape rooms, both inspired by true events from the days of Penn.

The annual initiative is being headed by educational program coordinator Sean Connolly, a new Pennsbury staffer. After receiving endless positive feedback from former escape room attendees and volunteers alike, it was a no-brainer to bring it back.

“It seems like everyone was telling me either via data or in person,” he said with a laugh. “Everyone had a really fun time doing it.”

The first escape room option is “Witches in the Woods,” which is organized into three sessions (6 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.) that each last one hour and 10 minutes and are limited to 10 participants.

The groups are taken back in time to witness the fear and power of witches in the 17th century. They must test their detective skills and creativity in finding clues by candlelight to help or condemn Margaret Mattson, who was accused of witchcraft and tried by Penn, the governor at the time.

“The goal of the escape room is that we are people trying to help Margaret prove her innocence so that the court can make a decision,” Connolly said.

The second option is “Cottage in the Woods,” which is also organized into three sessions (6:15 p.m., 7:45 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.) that each last one hour and 10 minutes and are limited to 10 participants.

This escape room tasks participants with proving the innocence or guilt of Judith Roe, who was accused of a murder that, even in the late 1600s, was hailed as “notorious and barbarous.”

“I think the Judith Roe one has proved difficult in the past, so bring your sleuthing abilities,” said Connolly. “You can definitely do research on all of these.”

According to Connolly, Pennsbury’s escape rooms are different than the typical experience because participants aren’t in a single room the entire time. They start in the Visitors Center, head out into the garden area, where they are “transported” to Penn’s era, and continue into either the workers’ cottage or kitchen house.

Additionally, both are extremely interactive.

“There are scenes happening throughout,” Connolly said, explaining how Pennsbury actors are present. “If the group is really struggling with finding clues, the scene that will happen will be a little bit more revealing in what is given to the participants. If a group is doing really well and finding most of the clues, then it will be your bare-bone information.”

While the scenes may provide clues, Connolly warned participants to beware – the actors may try to throw them down a “rabbit hole” with false information, and it’s up to them to determine whether or not it’s valid.

Connolly said the escape rooms are recommended for ages 13 and over.

“It does go late and we are talking about murder. But it’s fun,” he explained. “I’m not saying it’s going to traumatize anyone. It’s a fun experience. The references to murder are 17th century, fun, interesting, historical mysteries that we’re trying to solve.”

He also recommended that interested participants purchase tickets in advance, since the escape rooms sold out quickly in previous years. Tickets are available at pennsbury-society.ticketleap.com/escape-room/. Cost is $35 general admission, $30 for Pennsbury members. Pennsbury Manor is located at 400 Pennsbury Memorial Road, Morrisville.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com

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