Awbury Arboretum: Worth the Journey

By Celia Caust-Ellenbogen

Who wants to come with me on a trip to Europe? We’ll go visit Paris, and Rome; it’ll be fun! Oh, but before you pack your bags, I should probably mention this one tiny detail: We’ll be going in 1877. Many nights and days will be passed on coal-powered trains, and it’s going to get pretty bumpy… The, ahem, bathroom facilities might not be quite up to 21st-century health standards… I’ll just come out and admit it: this is not going to be a glamorous trip.

When Annette Cope (1843-1916) set out on just such a trip in 1877, she kept a beautifully-illustrated travel diary that documents alike the pleasures and discomforts of her journey. Annette was the granddaughter of Thomas Pim Cope, a wealthy Philadelphia merchant and member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). She was a frequent visitor to Awbury, as estate established by her uncle Henry Cope in 1852, that today is open to the public as the Awbury Arboretum, historic house and landscape. Annette Cope’s travel journal is today housed at the Awbury Arboretum archives.

Perusing “Adventures of Three Travelers,” as Annette called her journal, is a fascinating way to study travel and leisure toward the end of the 19th century. The meticulous illustrations and often humorous notes provide an intimate, first-person view of the realities of travel. Where many travel accounts gloss over the unpleasant aspects, Annette’s offers an honest, straightforward telling. And because she is not afraid to confront the bad, her depictions of the good are all the more joyful by contrast.

More photos of Annette Cope’s journal are on our Picasa page.

Visit the Awbury Arboretum’s website at, or call 215-849-2855 for more information. “Like” them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @awburyarboretum.


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