Monday, June 19, 2006

Eldon House

The Eldon House

The adventures have continued as I mentioned in another post, many of them in fact happened, as my mother, the children and I roamed about, traveling and visiting little towns, greeting history in our midst, as a cherished old friend, specially when we stumbled on items of interest along the way. Tidbits of information gathered from local folks, or seen in the brochures we picked up, gently guided us to many places of interest, enabling us to capture “living history”.

Imagine, someone once breathed, lived here and walked this same walk as we did, yet over one hundred years ago in the same place! And who was more interested in all of this unfolding within our group? We were all so interested; it was difficult to walk away when our time ended. Knowing though there would be more days ahead to “promenade” through other historical sights, whenever the announcement was made in morning hours to pack up for another long day trip, eager beavers were usually ready imminently with their water bottle in hand, pocket money all ready, extra clothing gathered for possible weather changes, things to do in the vehicle, and hats were on their heads.

My mother and I are connoisseurs of historical homes and love to be participants of informational tours when possible. In the east, it’s very easy to get our fix, with the plethora of homes welcoming us to visit.

After some local shopping and lunch, we stopped at the tourist center in London, and it was there my smart mama inquired into possible Victorian home tours within the city. Several were there to browse, though lost in time, and so intrigued, our time only allowed for one while touring that city.

Let me begin the next series of updated posts, by sharing our tour of “The Eldon House” with you.

Handmade grandfather clock brought with the Eldon
family from England in 1825

Grandson's wife from Holland had incredible wealth, and imported with her arrival, these original delft blue tiles from her homeland, as well as many other delft pieces around the home.

Part of the original library.
Need I mention to you how I liked this room?

Sitting by the fire, ladies visiting used the tapestry
shield to the left of the fireplace,
for protecting their faces from the heat,
and having their wax makeup melting. Funny!

Eldon House is the oldest house in London. Virtually unchanged since the last century, this historic home contains family heirlooms, furnishings and priceless treasures of the Harris family as well as a re-created 19th century garden.

Built in 1834 for Captain John and Amelia Harris, the house remained in the Harris family until 1959 when it was given to the city complete with family furnishings and priceless treasures. Eldon House was the center of social life in early 19th century London with its library the setting for lively evenings. Today it remains a charming reflection of the city's past and tours are booked daily with folks like us roaming about it’s ground and floors.

Extremely pricey, red cedar imported from B.C. for ceilings

The wedding bed of the original couple,
as was with all original belongings.

One of the bedrooms for a daughter. The chair a the end of the bed was for kneeling down to say nightly prayers on.

Taking tea near the fireplace was necessary
to remain warm in the early mornings.

The Nursery, with all original toys left behind.
It reminded us of something out of Peter Pan.

During this age of elegance, wealthy homes were furnished with exquisite antiques and historic treasures from exotic places. Last year I visited the “Eastman House” in Rochester, New York. If I hadn’t been exposed earlier to several collectible items on display, I think I would have become ill. Wealthy men of the time period, were worldwide travelers, and hunters, adventuring to exotic corners of the world, with their great desires to acquire unique items to add to their extensive collections. To mention a few, displays of tribal swords, cultural tribe knives & spears, animal horns and/or body parts such as elephant legs used for holding their umbrellas, gorilla hand ashtrays (think of Jane Goodell and her fight to save the gorillas), rhinoceros foot wine decanters, African collectibles, silk clothing and pictures from Japan, basketry, shields created using animal skins or hides, Samurai horse accessories and so much more . Though some of these things mentioned are gross, gross, gross to us (did I say gross?), likely it was a prestigious and acceptable collection, worthy of display during that time period. Blech!

Elephant leg umbrella stand

Rhinocerus wine decanter

Shields of crocodile, turtle, hides, and horns
and original gold gilted wallpaper from Japan.

With wealthy folks, life was made possible by domestic servants always on call in London's oldest surviving mansion. While touring the kitchen, I giggled when our tour guide allowed the children to ring the bells overhead, mimicing what the servants would hear daily while on duty, possibly with just a glance to know who or what room was beckoning a need, or perhaps the varying sounds the bells made when rung were recognized easily to know where their services were required. These bells reminded me of some I've seen in a few films Karen A. had introduced me to from the BBC productions. Lavish needlework bell pulls were present in every room, in full view, each attached and represented in the kitchen with an accompanying bell.

Bells to summon the maid's services

The kitchen, renovated in the 1930's

The maid's staircase, well worn floorings.
There once was colorful linoleum here,
all worn down now as shown below.

If you know me, you can imagine the pictures I took touring this home. I loved the fact, each and every piece in this home belonged to this family. What a huge heritage value it represents, of beloved treasures and collections, for folks like us to enjoy browsing through. There was a table in the men's cigar area (where the men excused themselves into later after dinner. The women had their own little area), binders filled with photos, addtional information, and one was filled with the biography bits of the servants who worked inside of this home, lived there, then moved on to have their own families over time. I wanted to sit most of the remaining time just to read, but the outside grounds still beckoned us outdoors. You must visit this house if you travel to the area someday!

A few dozen original black and white sketchings,
each representing a Shakepeare play.
Many more were around the home.
Remember this family came from England

If you wish to check out the Eastman House in New York for yourself, it is so much more than just a home. It’s also where “Kodak” began, the history of camera making with their museums, photography in general, and of course, Eastman worked with Thomas Edison to make “moving pictures”, films of many sorts. History was made there, symphonies played in the conservatory, while rich folks came to dine and slip their umbrellas into the elephant leg brass fitting. *wink*


After our visit to the Eldon house, we drove only a few blocks down the road to find these, and toured the museum as well. Many fine history books were in the gift shop as you could only imagine. *wink*

This used to be a Fort along the Thames River,
circa 1824/1825 Gothic Revival,
now fully restored and used as the Middlesex County Courthouse.
It's next door to the London Museum. Very cool looking!

More historical adventures to patient with me okay?