Today we mark the beginning of a new project here at Toad Hollow Photography, one that speaks to a subject that is so very important to us. The heritage and associated architecture of our beloved Vancouver Island are in a constant state of dynamic change, and with this comes a bevy of issues; some good and some bad. This new series we are titling “Anne Hathaway’s Cottage At The Olde Inn” will be featuring what is likely some of the last photographs of an icon here in Victoria on the island, one I visited many times as a boy when my mom was still alive.
I can honestly say I do not envy the position that our local government leaders and planners have in front of them, trying to balance the needs of commerce against the desire to hold onto the rich tapestry of history that makes this island so special. To add an even further dimension to the topic, the entire island here has only recently been settled, and as such we have no heritage buildings older than 150 years or so. This results in a finite number of these facilities, and quite honestly some of them are disappearing at an alarming rate.
But things are not as simple as just having a concern for these facilities and their futures, there has to be some form of a plan that is sustainable. That balancing act has to put many of the people responsible for these decisions in a rather untenable situation. If we just blindly tear it down, the entire heritage community will rise in fury, but at the same time the folks who own these lands and buildings must be allowed to find a way forward that is fiscally sound. This is just the way of the world.
But even with all this being considered, it’s no less of a shock to hear of a landmark in the city being slated for demolition.
This is Rosemead Manor, a true landmark and icon in Victoria. Rest assured, this wonderful revival-Tudor style heritage building architected by Samuel Maclure will be preserved. It’s all the other buildings on the luscious 4.5 acre site that now likely have a date with a wrecking ball.
As a little boy we’d come here often on special occasions. My mom immigrated here from Germany at a very young age, and I believe that she was drawn to these sorts of places because they reminded her of her homeland. As such, I’ve grown to love these places myself, probably due to seeing them through her eyes. And as such, the proposed demolition of the remaining buildings on the site hits me in my heart with a deep sense of loss. But, these are personal feelings and have no bearing on the financial viability of the facility.
This photograph was taken three years ago in the height of a wet, cold, rainy fall. The authentic thatched roof on the building covers a perfect replica of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in the UK, which is a landmark and heritage site. For years and years, people coming to visit Victoria would make the trip out to this landmark to immerse themselves in the genuine feeling of the site. Peppered with Tudor-styled buildings, the entire 4.5 acre site played host to a setting that immediately whisked visitors away right into the heart of Olde England.
As the years passed by, though, the visitors became fewer and further between. In 2011 the facility was bought by a group from receivership, further underscoring the challenges a business faces in these hard times. Facilities like this become victim to these times.
At any rate, the latest plans on the drawing board reveal that everyone believes that Rosemead Manor is to preserved and saved as a heritage facility, but the entire remainder of the site is to be demolished to make room for an entirely new project. Details are available here on the Times-Colonist: New vision for Esquimalt’s English Inn adds housing, keeps historic manor.
To see the entire gallery of photographs we took in 2010 when the place was still active and in use, please visit our online gallery “English Inn & Resort / Anne Hathaways Cottage“. As well, we’ll be posting and sharing the entire series of shots we captured on our most recent trip to the site in the coming months, so do stay tuned for that. Some of the shots we’ve got in the works are absolutely astounding, and as mentioned, are likely some of the very last from the facility.
Thank you so much for taking the time to visit us here today, as always we love to hear from our visitors and encourage you to leave us any thoughts you may have! Until next time, my friends!!