Thursday, August 13, 2015

Lavish Lives Lived in the Victorian Area - Craigdarroch Castle

The picture above is of a beautiful Chatelaine.  A Chatelaine is a decorative belt hook or clasp worn at the waist with a series of chains suspended from it. Each chain is mounted with a useful household appendage such as scissors, thimble, watch, key, vinaigrette, household seal, etc.  These were popular in the late 1800's.

Anthony surprised me before leaving Victoria with a tour of the incredibly lavish Victorian era Craigdarroch Castle.  The castle was built between 1887-1890 by a Scottish immigrant who made his fortune from Vancouver Island coal.  The mansion sits on a hill overlooking the city of Victoria and has sweeping views of the city from the upper floors and towers.  Craigdarroch means “rocky oak place” in Gaelic.  The castle is an example of a “bonanza castle”, massive houses built for men who became wealthy because of the industrial transformation of North America.

I really relished the ability for us to tour almost the entire castle.  Although some of the rooms were roped off you could still see into them clearly and many were totally accessible.  I have always felt in historic homes and buildings that you can sense the echoes of the past throughout the structures.  We discovered that this castle is enormously popular with tourists as was evident during our visit.  I almost felt rushed through the rooms as we were attempting to stay ahead of the pack.  How I would have loved to have toured it in blissful silence without any other admirers at my heels.  In the silence my imagination allows me to become part of the surrounds and transports me to another time.  Still even with all of the commotion, loud voices, and noisy heavy walkers the castle is amazing to behold and I really enjoyed our time touring the four main floors.  I am a huge fan of the Victorian Era and if you are too the Craigdarroch Castle is a must see while visiting Victoria.

Some interesting facts to note about the castle:

·         There are 32 original stained glass windows.
·         The castle is 25,572 square feet including the basement.
·         It took 5 railroad cars to ship 2128 oak panels from Chicago.
·         There are 17 fireplaces and seven chimney stacks.
·         The castle had gas lighting as well as electric lighting; hot and cold running water for indoor plumbing; central heating; telephones; and a burglar alarm system.
·         The main walls are brick construction and are faced with sandstone from Dunsmuir’s own quarry.
·         The caste is a Designated National Historic Site.
·         The estate was originally 28-acres.
·         The castle hosts 100,000 annual visitors.
·         The castle has been a private home, military hospital, college, conservatory of music and is now a museum.

Craigdarroch Castle -

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