Saturday, August 15, 2009

Another year older

I turned another year older yesterday (and major thanks to all the well wishers on facebook...holy smokes!) and it was a great day. Since I hit the send button on Sold on Thursday afternoon, I took the day off.
I got up and had breakfast and checked e-mail and worked out, talked to my mum and my mother in law and then as I changed the girls packed our picnic. About 10:30 we were ready to go - first stop a much needed cup of coffee, next the bank, and thirdly the bottle depot where we cashed in our summer's worth of bottles.

Then we drove on to the Uniacke Estate which is a museum and our bottle money paid the admission (which, for a museum, was so cheap. Under ten bucks for the three of us.).

The day was GORGEOUS by the way and so the first thing we did was tour the house. The house was built in 1815 by Nova Scotia attorney general Richard Uniacke as his SUMMER home. It was owned by the family until 1949, and everything in it belonged to the family. Nothing was brought in as a representative piece of what they would have had - it's the real deal. Paintings, furniture, clothing...it's all genuine. And STUNNING.


We had a fantastic guide by the name of Paul who had so much detail; my frustration came from wanting to remember so much and knowing I never would.
You enter to a wide hall, which would have been used for entertaining when they had several guests that wouldn't all fit into the rather large dining room. The dining room was on the immediate right, and when Uniacke went shopping in London for furniture for Government House, he also was smart and did some personal ordering as well. Most of the furniture in the house is crafted by George Adams and is solid mahogany. The dining table and chairs is breathtaking, and note the Wedgwood table settings. I am crushed my pictures of the cabinets filled with tea sets didn't turn out - I will have to go back. Paul did say that they had, of course, several different patterns and one was another Wedgwood pattern of 100 table settings. Can you imagine?



The gentlemen would enjoy cigars and the women would retire to the parlour across the hall. It is my kind of room. The colour is similar to what we have in our foyer and kitchen, very warm and lovely, with wine draperies. A pianoforte graces the middle of the room, as well as a writing desk that was made from 5 types of wood and given as a gift to one of the children who was a pastor and remained in Halifax to administer to the sick during the cholera epidemic whle most of the well-to-do retired to the country. The chairs on either side of the pianoforte were a gift from the Duke of Kent. Uniacke did rub elbows, didn't he!




The room was guarded grandly by a grandfather clock, still in perfect working order, that is over 200 years old.



Down the hall is the library, and the glorious musty smell of books made me think of my friend The Babe Magnet (aka Stephen Wade). I was in heaven. The Common Book of Prayer was there on a shelf below Fordyce's Sermons - all original. Paul snagged one copy off a shelf after donning gloves and it was from 1771, the linen paper still in great condition.





Across the hall was the guest room, a four poster bed meticulously carved from mahogany and a stocked apothecary chest present as well. In between those rooms was the door with its doorknocker of Bacchus. Wine and good times - yes, I got that sense. The Uniackes were people that knew how to enjoy themselves.


Upstairs were the bedrooms, three of which all connected - a large room that was used by Uniacke's daughter who became a widow a year after her marriage, and two more that were children's rooms. Check out the beautiful chest. I saw it and my jaw dropped. Beautiful pieces, in fantastic shape. It's also an Adams piece from London.

There was a room for the upstairs maid, which now contains a glassed in area where you can see Martha's wedding dress, another beautiful dress, bonnet, shoes, and Richard's waistcoat. Next to that is a bedroom where one of the children lived - a spinster. The master bedroom was beside it and again, stunning furniture. In all the rooms even the pitchers and bowls were beautiful. The master bedroom set is also mahogany. The spool work on the four posters is amazing.


There is a closed door - that was the quarantine room. If you got sick - into isolation you go.
There used to be a widow's walk upstairs, but it was later closed in and is more of a sunroom now - the semicircular window you see at the top is that room.
The house itself is situated on the Old Post Road - what used to be the main road running between Halifax and Windsor. Uniacke built the house so that he could see the comings and goings and also to impress that traffic. In the end, he'd bought or been granted so much land that he had nearly 12,000 acres.


After a trip to the downstairs kitchens (the hearth is there, the rest is a tea room/gift shop) the girls and I had a picnic outside and then did a few of the shorter walking trails. The house is built next to a lake. Several of the outbuildings remain, though some are now gone. The barn and carriage house are there, and in its hey day also had a guest house, caretaker's house, boathouse, etc. The walking trails are open all year free of charge, and another day I think we'll all go back and take the dog.


We got home shortly before 3, and after I mowed the front lawn, it was float in the pool time. Gorgeous gorgeous afternoon all told. The dh got home around 4:30, bringing birthday cake and offering to do the barbequing for supper. After we ate, all of us went for about a 45 minute walk in that lovely mellow summer evening light.

It probably doesn't sound very exciting, but it was the best day. So relaxing and rejuvenating - and that is worth more than any presents!

4 comments:

  1. Hi Donna. It looks like you all had a great day out. A lovely day to spend a birthday in my opinion. Love stately homes and castles and can't get enough of them! Take care. Caroline x

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  2. Happy belated birthday - and wow, what a fantastic way to spend it. The museum looks fascinating - if I'm ever in your part of the world, I'd defiitely go!

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  3. What gorgeous pictures!! A very happy unbirthday to you for today (since I'm late ;)

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  4. Nina in Ohio8:48 AM

    Happy Birthday! Sounds like you had a wonderful day with your girls - the best birthday present for a mom!

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