ESU Annual Garden Party

Sunday, June 5, 2022
4:00 pm EST
1169 Saint Matthews Road
Chester Springs, PA 19425

Come celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at a ROYAL GARDEN PARTY.


Like so many properties in the area, the land was purchased from William Penn. The house, which shows evidence of initial construction more than six decades before the American Colonies declared their independence, may have begun its days as the humble log home of squatters. The barn was built in the early days of the 19th Century. Against this backdrop Dr. Donald J. Rosato and his wife Judy have turned the country home they named “St. Matthews Place” into the focal point of an elegant life style that’s “all for the horses.” Dr. Rosato, a nationally recognized four-in-hand carriage driver and Master of the Pickering Hunt, acquired St. Matthews Place in November 1977. He and Mrs. Rosato designed their restoration of the property to reflect both the beautiful simplicity of its Colonial heritage and the rich equestrian ambiance of Chester County today. Its interior decor features antiques and works of art, while the orchard, lawns and formal gardens of the exterior have been the setting for many social events, often benefitting charities. The Rosato property originally was part of a 10,000 acre tract bought from Penn by Dr. Coxe on April 20, 1686. Ownership then passed to the West New Jersey Society, an English land speculation company chartered by the Crown to sell or distribute land in the colonies. Title passed in 1806 to Bartholomew Fussell who lived with his wife Rebecca in a portion of the house that exists today, before selling the structure to Edward Bell who also apparently lived there. The first formal record of an inhabitant was in the early 1800s when Henry Snider was recorded as living there. In all, 21 people including Dr. Rosato actually owned the house as opposed to simply living in it or renting it. Among the former owners were two of Mrs. Rosato’s relatives, Mary Ann and Henry Gooding who purchased the house in 1920 and remained there until Mr. Gooding’s death in 1927. When the Rosatos began restoring the heavily overgrown property after acquiring it in 1977 they found a chimney stone denoting a construction date of 1715. Noted local historian, Estelle Cremers, has suggested that an original log structure possibly built in 1715 probably burned and was replaced. ~ St. Matthews Place ~ The oldest standing section of the house, circa 1749, is a first-floor room on the west side and includes the drawing room added in the late 1700s. The most recent addition, a clapboard wing, was completed in 1985 and was supplemented in 2010. Shortly after acquiring St. Matthews Place, the Rosatos began their country lifestyle by basset hunting and although no longer pursuing this time-consuming hobby they continue to support the hunt by membership and traditionally hold a high tea for the basseting group each season. In 1972 the Rosatos began fox hunting with the Pickering Hunt and Dr. and Mrs. Rosato have been elected to the Board of Governors of this prestigious hunt. Dr. Rosato was elected Master of Foxhounds in 1995. The Rosatos have driven carriages since the mid-1970s, and today they have a barn filled with carriages and sleighs and can be seen year-round traveling the roads of northern Chester County behind a team of four beautiful horses. The Rosatos also participate in the invitational driving circuit that includes the prestigious Devon Horse Show. At Devon Dr. Rosato has retired the coveted Pleasure Drive trophy, has been both reserve champion and grand champion, and has won numerous blue ribbons. St. Mathews Place—too small to be properly called a farm—has been referred to as a “Hunting Box,” an English term denoting a country property used as a rural base for “riding to the hounds” or going fox hunting. Such small country houses were usually located several miles away from the town homes where their owners lived full time.

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