Eldon House Heritage Site & Gardens


Story: Nicoletta Michienzi
Photography: Nicoletta Michienzi
Thursday, July 19, 2018

Built in 1834, Eldon House is the oldest surviving dwelling in London. From 1834- 1959, Eldon House was the residence of four generations of the Harris family, who made alterations to the building's exterior and interior as time and technologies progressed.

The original owner of the house, John Harris, was stationed in Canada as part of the Royal British Navy's involvement in the War of 1812. In 1815, he met his wife Amelia Ryerse with whom he would have 12 children. John Harris retired from the Navy and settled in London after being appointed "Treasurer" of the district. He named his new house after the Earl of Eldon, Lord High Chancellor of England, who was like himself, a "self-made-man." The House was passed to his sons who built an extension in 1877. The addition includes a large drawing room, bedrooms, kitchen and servant quarters.

During their 125 year tenure at Eldon House, the Harris Family was actively involved in the local community and travelled widely. Many family members recorded their experiences, in the form of diaries and letters. These accounts, together with the Harris household belongings, provide a detailed and fascinating glimpse into London's history.

In 1960 the great-grandchildren of John and Amelia Harris donated Eldon House and its 11-acre property to the City of London. The property was divided to create Harris Park by the Thames River and Eldon House with its gardens, opened as a historical museum, housing the varied furnishings and collections of the family.

Eldon House remains one of the most fascinating historical spaces in London, combining elements of the Victorian, Edwardian and twentieth century design. Its rooms are full of rich history and souvenirs from around the globe and the temporary displays highlight interesting moments from the Harris Family. Currently, there is an exhibit on Milly Harris, the final inhabitant of Eldon House on display until September.

In addition to the exhibits in Eldon House, the museum hosts a variety of events throughout the year. Eldon House always rings in the New Year with an annual Levee, carrying on Harris family traditions of hosting visitors on the first day of the year. The winter and spring seasons are packed with a variety of tours and workshops, culminating in the annual Mother’s Day Tea and Strawberry Social on Father’s Day weekend. These tea events launch the summer tea season, when guests are invited to book a seating for tea on the beautiful lawns of lawns of Eldon House. Programming continues in the fall with spooky ghost hunts, telling the stories of hauntings at London’s oldest residence. The year finished with the House being transformed into a Victorian Christmas display with live evergreens and holiday decorations. Eldon House is a wonderful site to visit at any time of the year.

Things to know before visiting

  1. Eldon House is located at 481 Ridout Street North in the heart of London
  2. Our days of operation change by the season, visit our webpage for more details
  3. We are accessible by public transit
  4. There is no parking on site, but there is a nearby lot on the corner of Ridout Street and Fullerton Street
  5. Admission is by donation
  6. For more information visit our website www.eldonhouse.ca

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