The bus turned onto Pleasant Street. … But Pleasant Street didn’t seem very pleasant at all. There was a jangle of ugly, grim metal warehouses, a dusty recycling plant and, at the far end, a huge towering pile of rusted car parts that loomed like some kind of nightmarish mountain. But it was the right street…And right in the middle was Point Ellice House, the only house on the entire street. Somehow the garden still managed to seem hushed and peaceful. Tall trees screened out the rest of Pleasant Street. There were carefully manicured lawns, flower beds edged with thick, ivy borders and a sweeping, gravelled driveway. It was a house that sat comfortably in the garden, the way a contented cat curls into a warm and sunny spot.
The Olden Days Locket by Penny Chamberlain (page 8&9)
POINT ELLICE HOUSE is a gem! Trees, shrubs and bushes seclude this 1861 home from the 21st Century. Behind the foliage one is swept back to the late 1800’s where afternoon tea was served on the back lawn after a game of lawn tennis or a brisk game of croquet. The Arbutus trees shields one from the direct sun and the intoxicating smell comes from roses that are roses in more than name only. The O”Reillys lived in the house for over a 100 years from 1867-1975.
Relaxing on the back lawn after a game of tennis.
“When the O’Reillys lived here, this neighbourhood was very different. There were beautiful homes on both sides of the Grange. And there were dinner parties, and boating parties and tennis tournaments and afternoon teas. It was a genteel neighbourhood and a lovely way of life.” The Olden Days Locket pg.9 & 10
The back lawn now….still used for afternoon tea and croquet.
The Point Ellice House hosts a Picnic Afternoon Tea. I phoned and made a reservation for Lil and I for the Saturday. On our arrival we were asked if we would like a tour of the house (for an extra $8.00) before our tea and we immediately said “Yes”. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable about the former owners, the eras in which they lived and the possessions which were left in the house. The last of the O’Reillys sold the house to the BC government lock, stock and barrel which not only included furnishings and clothing but newspapers, receipts and diaries dating back 90 years.
THE HOUSE: Designed by John Wright in the Italianate style, the house is a single story dwelling with gables.
Dining Room with set with Minton “King’s Border” China. Notice the wicker shields that are fitted over the chairs. They would protect the guests from the heat of the fire.
The Drawing Room: This was a stunning room; rich in fabric, furniture and gold trim.
Butler’s Pantry where more of the Minton china was kept.
The kitchen: Coal and wood were used to fuel the cast iron French Range. It was made in Victoria at the Albion Iron Works.
Faux Marble Wallpaper with pencil lines drawn on top to imitate marble blocks.
THE GARDENS: The gardens “…contain one of the finest Victorian-style gardens in Western Canada.” (Point Ellice House)
Rose Garden…. beautiful fragrances!
Hollyhock Garden: so lovely!
The picnic tea is so named because it is catered by Truffles Catering and arrives in a cardboard box. Tea/coffee is served in a paper cup and the delicacies are eaten off a paper plate. Why??? We asked that question. Point Ellice House does not have a kitchen or more specifically an industrial dishwasher so they are not allowed to serve food and beverage in washable containers. They must serve them on disposable containers. What a shame because the afternoon tea was absolutely delicious. The tea included savoury finger sandwiches (egg and cress, BC smoked salmon with cream cheese and coronation chicken), scones, awesome white and dark chocolate truffles, summer tartlet (fabulous), macarons and a lemon slice. Our gratitude and applause go to Truffles Catering for creating a very tasty repast!! (Please note: Afternoon tea must be reserved 48 hours in advance.)
Afternoon Tea can be served in the Barn or on the back lawn. It was a coolish day so we opted for the Barn.
The secret vintage shop sells wares from as far away as England. Many items are available for purchase including tea services, quilts, embroidered linen tablecloths, purses and pillows.
Lil and I had such fun exploring each nook and cranny. I discovered (and bought)a lovely quilt, a linen tablecloth and four crisp tea napkins.
BONUS: VICTORIA Harbour Ferry and Water Taxi makes a stop at Point Ellice House during the summer.
Stop for a tour of the house and gardens, make reservations for afternoon tea (must be made 48 hours in advance), and/or peruse the vintage shop. A lovely way to spend a summer afternoon in Victoria. And as one young man stated as he entered the Barn, “This is a hidden gem”. It certainly is, come and discover it!!
Point Ellice House and Gardens
2616 Pleasant Street
Books of interest:
Point Ellice House: A Victorian Household
The Olden Days Locket by Penny Chamberlain