Thursday, 22 September 2011

whitehern

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In Canada this summer my family was based in a city called Hamilton, where we're kind of in the process of moving to (complicated, like everything involving location with my family). Anyway, it meant getting to do a bit of Canadian tourism in a place I'd never been before. One afternoon my mom, sisters and I went to Whitehern, a grand house from the 19th century where they hold musical afternoons during the summer. We sat in the tranquil gardens, listening to celtic harp and drinking a "bottomless" cup of tea from a china cup (there was a maid in uniform dishing it out for $1 a cup). Afterwards we took a tour of the house.

I've been to A LOT of grand houses in my time (architecturally obsessed mother, and we're all quite into the 19th century), and I have to say, this was the best tour I'd ever been on. Normally you wander around and ooh and awww over the Victorian furniture a bit, but this time, the man leading the tour sat us all down upstairs and proceeded to tell us the history of three generations of the family that had lived in the house. It was fascinating. There was a domineering patriarch, an evil step-mother, an extremely high infant mortality rate, a wealth to poverty fall-from-grace, a high mortality rate among fiancées of the children, and successive generations of young men swearing they would remain bachelors forever after being disappointed in love, and then doing so! As our excellent and understated guide stated, "I like to tell the dirt and gossip version of the family history." It didn't hurt that all the children of the final generation to live in the house were absolutely gorgeous... like 19th century movie stars. And not one of them married, for a variety of tragic or self-inflicted reasons. Later, walking through the rooms, everything meant so much more knowing the story of the previous inhabitants. I'm sure not many people reading live near Hamilton, but if you do, and you like a bit of 19th century drama, I highly recommend Whitehern. My family has already decided to return at Christmas, when they decorate the house accordingly and when hopefully I'll get some decent pictures.

And for anyone extra-interested, the archives of the house are available here where you can read the family letters including references to "kissing for a full half and hour in the carriage," haha, and hearn about the artist daughter Ruby, who was sadly had to sacrifice her career to teach so as to support her younger brother through university (he was the family's sole economic hope at the time).

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Here's a picture of Shona! (I was slouching like a humpback in all of mine, grrr). ; D

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35 comments:

Closet Fashionista said...

Oh wow that place looks so cool! I want to go now, haha, such an interesting story too! :)
http://www.closet-fashionista.com/

Closet Fashionista said...

Oh wow that place looks so cool! I want to go now, haha, such an interesting story too! :)
http://www.closet-fashionista.com/

Galine said...

i adore hamilton!!! i go to a honey shop there & it's an absolute dream! reminds me of toronto without the craziness of it all! i want to live there!!!

this place looks gorgeous and i think i'll make a trip there, perhaps during the holidays, sounds like a lot of fun! :) thanks for the tip!

Sparks In Spring said...

Beautiful pictures, you look lovely! xx

So Yeah So said...

This kind of thing is right up my alley. Thanks for sharing.

Carrie said...

How fun! I love hearing background like that because it makes everything so much more personal. You can actually imagine a family living there and realize that they dealt with all the yuckiness and glory of life as well. I haven't been to Hamilton, but the parents of a friend live there. Maybe one of these days... :-)

Lay Rosa said...

Super cute! love it!

Kirstin@CrimsonRosella said...

I'm totally going to show this to my mom and go! We love that kind of thing and only live an hour away!

Teaka said...

What a beautiful house and such rich history. I love seeing photos of the house way back in history and how it looks now. It's such a time warp. :D

CessOviedo said...

Just like on the movies, that house is amazing! You looked adorable in white.

Cess O. <3 The Outfit Diaries

ana said...

I would love to go to that house and take the tour! I'm also obsessed with old houses and old pictures like the ones you are showing us!

Rebecca said...

I do love a good old house. That's so interesting that you got a proper behind the scenes style family history. I think there should be more tours like that. Very pretty dresses on both of you.

gabrielle said...

i've never done a house tour, but i have been a tour guide and i can tell you style is everything. and a bad, impatient tour guide can ruin the experience. sounds like an awesome time!

xxoo
www.paperplanesandmaryjanes.com

Amber Blue Bird said...

this sounds like a brilliant tour. I recently tour the house of the seven gables and felt like our tour director didnt divulge enough of the personal history behind the house.

Catita said...

interesting post, that grand house is superb and you both look lovely in your dresses!
xoxo
Catita

Penny said...

another member of the ruby slippers family!:) i love her dress!

The Daily Fashionista said...

What a fun tour!! I love learning stuff like that. Especially the family gossip stuff!! hehe..

Viviane Heleno said...

So lovely! You both! :)
XoXo

Monique said...

wow, this place sounds amazing. i love when you sit down and learn about a place first and then wonder. cute pic of you gals! sweet tea cups!

The Suburb Experiment said...

That sounds so fun! A gossipy tour in a gorgeous house? Yes please.

Jenn

Daria said...

Awesome blog!

visit my blog too :)
http://lusciousstyle.blogspot.com/

Marisa Noelle said...

Oh wow, such rich history. I love stories like that and the house is really something special. House touring is something my mom used do as well..and I would always go with her, but definitely nothing as beautiful as this. It's kind of sad they don't build them like this anymore. Anyhow, looks like quite a perfect day and of course you look so pretty in your white dress:)

CAITLIN said...

this place looks awesome!! my boyfriend is study historic preservation and basically wants to restore places like this for the rest of his life, and i've been visiting quite a few old mansions since i met him. i'm definitely adding this to the to-do list when we make our trip over to niagara falls (someday)... looks pretty close!

when i was a kid my family went to rhode island and took tours of some of the newport mansions... when we got home i tried to convince my little brother that we lived in The Breakers until he was born. he didn't buy it, though he did run away crying when i invited his "birth mother" to come pick him up...

CAITLIN said...

**studying

Raquel said...

This is the kind of thing that I wish my family did but never did :| though nice to live through you!It seems like such a beautiful place and accompanied with tea even must taste better.
You and your sister look both so simply pretty.
x

Anđela Vitorović said...

Beautiful pictures, love your blog! :)

UNDERNEATH THE STARS

Emily, Resplendent Tranquility said...

Touring Whitehern both looks and sounds like time well spent! Visiting grand/historic old homes is something I really enjoy doing. My mom and I are planning a visit to a historic home in a few weeks' time. Needless to say, I've been excited about it since we first decided on going!

Oh, and without looking at your blog first, the dress is also in my most recent post ;)

S.L. Gabriel said...

It WAS great to get the historical tour of the uniforms while looking for something to buy. The best kind of service. If you're ever in Sweden, in Umeå particularly, I encourage you to go there. I'll even take you myself.

S.L. Gabriel said...

These pictures are lovely, by the way.

Lidiya said...

The location is amazing - so old and historic, it doesn't get any better :)
http://cupcakesandtreacle.blogspot.com/

Ashley said...

I love learning about this kind of crap!!! History is my favorite I think. And there's something eery and fantastic about visiting houses that were lived-in. I love that stuff!

Ashley/ MILK TEETHS said...

I'm such a sucker for old, rambling estates like this one and the history of it sounds really cool. There is this one mansion in northern California called the Winchester house that I have ALWAYS wanted to go go to. The architecture is really crazy/ creepy (staircases that lead to nowhere, doors that open to brick walls, etc.) and the house is supposedly super haunted. Wanna go one day? ;-)

Rebeccak said...

Oh wow! That sounds amazing! I love hearing the more personal stories... totally makes all the difference. Alright, now to work out how I can fund a trip to Canada?

dusanabotswana said...

What an interesting place and what a great tour guide! Hearing all those stories definitely makes everything so much more interesting. Looks like a great day! Cute dresses both of you.

Virginie's Cinema said...

OMG I can't believe I had not commented on this post, I LOVE it!

First of, that garden look like it's heart shaped (!!!) and second of, this dress is so amazing! Saw it on The Cherry Blossom Girl too and love it to bits!

You ladies are so fancy!

Virginie ♥