Heritage London Foundation opened up the “Elsie Perrin Williams Estate”:http://www.elsieperrinwilliamsestate.ca November 8th to 25th for a number of events to mark its 100th anniversary. In addition to paid events ($15 each), the Spanish Colonial Revival home was open for free tours and my sister and I stopped in to take a look. Usually the estate is used for functions so this was a rare treat.
There is a parking lot below the house but if you need accessible parking, there are a couple of spots up at the house and a ramp to the right of the stairs up to the front doors. There is a long circular driveway up to the house which is set in the clearing in woods that overlook the Medway Valley Heritage Forest and the Upper Thames River that runs behind the house. People often park in the lot and take their dogs for walks in the woods as there is a 68 acre public park attached to the estate. There is a sign in the parking lot warning of coyotes in the area so be careful in the woods with your little dogs.
The house was decorated circa 1917 for the event with items normally in the home and some usually on view at “Eldon House”:https://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/review/attraction/169725-review-eldon-house or “Museum London”:https://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/review/attraction/176798-review-museum-london-ontario and those found in the attic of the estate. There are story boards outside in the grounds and in the various rooms of the house. Our tour guide had interesting stories about Elsie Perrin Williams and her husband Doctor Hadley Williams. He went to England during WWI where he served as a Lieutenant Colonel, Medical Officer for the #16 Stationary Ontario Hospital in Orpington and Elsie went with him. Elsie’s father was Daniel S. Perrin, the owner of a biscuit and candy company in London, and he gave the estate to Elsie when she got married. The old Victorian house on the site was knocked down and their new house was built for them while they were away during the war. They never had children and Elsie left the estate to the city of London with an endowment on the proviso that her housekeeper be able to live in it until she died. She even left money for her to have a maid of her own. The lucky housekeeper, Harriet Corbett, lived in the home for another 45 years until her death in 1979. The city caused a scandal by breaking Elsie’s will (through the courts) and using the money for other sites (a hospital building, an art gallery and a library) in the city.
The estate is now run by the charitable foundation and often used for weddings. We had one such couple on our tour; they had been married at the estate last year. The bride and groom get ready in bedrooms upstairs and use the two different stair cases to descend to the hall for the ceremony.
After we finished our tour of the home, we took a walk around the gardens and out to the memorial, the site of both the Williams’ graves and those of their pets. They were devoted to their dogs and their pets graves are marked in cement around their memorial wall. Elsie and Hadley both loved golf and had a nine-hole course on their estate; sadly it is no longer there.