Strolling minstrels, jugglers, the lilting strains of live music, ladies and gentlemen partaking of cake and sipping tea – the decadence of the Victorian era will soon come alive on the newly refurbished south lawn of Craigdarroch Castle.
The free outdoor garden party for the public on Aug. 13 will celebrate the end of $750,000 worth of restoration and refurbishment work on the castle grounds, which lasted two years.
Now, when visitors arrive, they will be transported back in time when they pass through replica four-metre-high sandstone and iron gateposts marking the original entrance to the estate where Fort Street and Joan Crescent meet.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Elisabeth Hazell, assistant manger of castle operations and development. “When you come up on Fort Street, you can actually see them and it gives you a much better sense of what it was like to pull up to the castle (by carriage) back in the 1890s.”
The effort and expense were worth the results, which have captured the former grandeur of the Dunsmuir mansion, built in 1890, said Hazell.
If Dorothy Laundy, one of the national historic site’s more active champions who died in 2006, was still alive “she would have been absolutely thrilled,” Hazell said.
Laundry’s family will be at the garden party for a plaque dedication that will honour their loved one’s contribution.
“It literally was her dying wish to have this project completed,” said Hazell.
Laundy, a long-time volunteer and past president of the Craigdarroch Castle Historical Museum Society, left an endowment to help pay for the grounds to be restored. The remainder of the work was paid for through museum admission fees.
The 78,000-square-foot south lawn today echoes how it looked in the past, complete with a huge lawn esplanade with walking paths and garden benches. The architect’s original plans were used for authenticity.
“Now it’s just really elegant,” Hazell said.
The free outdoor public garden party happens Aug. 13 from 2 to 5 p.m. Craigdarroch Castle is located at 1050 Joan Cres.