As the world took on a more refined state in the 18th and 19th centuries, certain ceremonies and events came to represent a burgeoning need to create a highly cultivated societal structure. High tea in the drawing room overtook the desire to lay plunder to your neighbors treasures. And from this new outlook emerged many fine artifacts and traditions that stand today as some of our most prized antiques and heritage heirlooms.
love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea
~ 18th-century author Henry Fielding
As we near the upcoming Canada Day Lawn Party hosted by TLC The Land Conservancy of BC, the excitement builds and this provides the perfect backdrop for a series of posts we will be making in the coming days. Our new working relationship with the wonderful people at TLC has resulted in some really incredible photographs and stories that we are very excited to be sharing. This post finds us taking a look at the completed Drawing Room at Ross Bay Villa, one of the two newly restored rooms we will be showcasing.
Ross Bay Villa is one of the original homes in Victoria, being one of less than 12 remaining homes from the mid 1860s that is still in existence today. We discuss in detail the history of this heritage facility in our previous post, “An Afternoon At The Villa“, where the story of how what once was a cornerstone of Victoria settlement was nearly demolished to make room for a new development. Only by the dedicated work of the great people at TLC was this place saved. Now more than 10 years later it deservedly finds itself the center of attention for a Canada Day event. We could not be more excited!
As we stood in the room, studying it and finding the magical compositions we came for, a sense of peace and serenity overcame us. The effort that has gone into the restoration and authentic recreation of this room is simply astounding. TLC has taken great care to source the original manufacturers of the carpets and wallpapers, and in working with them directly has had perfect recreations of both constructed. Next to transporting yourself back in time and buying some of the originals, this is the closest thing to authentic that is possible. Pondering the thought and research that goes into a project like this left us with an even deeper appreciation.
This gorgeous antique piano is absolutely period correct, and very well may have been the exact model of piano that sat in this room at the time. The deep tones in the intricate woodwork really brings a strong sense of warmth to the room, and is beautifully contrasted against the blue wallpaper.
In no time flat just being in this room immediately invokes images of fair ladies dressed in beautiful flowing dresses and gentlemen in their finest suits, sporting a monocle and a pipe. Talk is always of the latest gossip and happenings in the city as it grows and people arrive and begin to settle. The initial inhabitants, the Roscoe family of which Frank Roscoe served as MP to the city of Victoria in the 1870’s, had many a party and gathering in this house. You can just imagine the business that was conducted and plans that were drawn for the future of the area we now call home. These were some of the most important times.
Only the finest decorations of the time were displayed. This elegant mirror above the antique fireplace really accents the wall, as do the lovely vases on the mantle. All the most carefully considered items adorn the table and shelves, on display for everyone to enjoy.
As you glance at the tarnished reflections in the mirror, you can almost literally hear the echoes of the conversations that happened between these walls all those years ago.
An absolutely exquisite scene is created by the windows. This room takes in the most beautiful natural light in the mid afternoon, draping the floor in a cascade of sunlight which accents the rich colors. The warmth and beauty beckon you to sit and relax and enjoy the moment.
Surely a sense of excitement and wonder was to be found here as people gathered to talk over tea. The tradition of high tea really became a full formality in the United Kingdom in the 19th Century, giving rise to formal events where people of society could gather. With servants being banned from entering to ensure privacy and confidentiality, conversations were able to flow freely. This freedom undoubtedly was the cornerstone of dynamic thinking, the sort of thing that is perfect for establishing and setting foundations for new societies.
Beautiful items, in many cases hand-crafted, sit on display accenting the room with colors and details and give a feel of personality to the space.
One thing that must be noticed and admired is the pure beauty of these antiques. You must remember that back in this age, no large factories existed to create these items on a large-scale. In many cases, these items were handmade and/or hand painted. We find it is important to stop and recognize these things when presented with them, and appreciate the gift of a special connection with the past that brought us all here.
As we discussed in our previous post “An Afternoon At The Villa“, there were more than 120 original wallpapers found in the home during the renovation and restoration phase. A segment of this was preserved here and is on display in the Drawing Room behind a sheet of plexiglass. Like peeling an onion, you can clearly differentiate between the fashions and styles of the time periods as you look at the different wallpapers used over the years. How neat is this?
One of the most interesting things we learned during our tour of the house was that back in this time, pictures were hung like this. A special decorative head was affixed to the hanger pictured, and a long string was used to hang the picture at eye level. How wonderful it really was to see that even something as straight forward as a picture fitting was carefully decorated to be sympathetic to the tastes of the homeowners.
Our final picture in this series highlights the trim that is used around the room. Once again, these were designed and created in a much more manual way than today’s modern home decor items. There were no large factories to pump this out by the yard in a blink of an eye, these decorations were carefully designed and much effort went into their making. The many dedicated volunteers at TLC hand-stenciled this to painstakingly reproduce the original trim.
We invite you to join us again in our next post where we’ll be showcasing the beautifully restored Dining Room. If you are in Victoria over the Canada Day weekend, we really do encourage you to come to the Canada Day Lawn Party and take in the wonder of this place in person. We’ll definitely be there!
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