Claverleigh celebrates historical significance

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The historical significance of Claverleigh was celebrated July 8 with an elegant garden party, held in the fashion of the day.

With gardens at their peak and blessed with beautiful weather, about 140 guests attended the official unveiling of a plaque to be installed at the home of Meg and Greg Young, located just outside of Creemore. Their weekend and summer getaway was originally built as the rectory for Creemore’s St. Luke’s Anglican Church.

Although formally recognized as a historic site in 1990, Parks Canada and the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada have been holding a number of plaque unveilings this year in celebration of Canada’s sesquicentennial.

“Built in 1871 as a parish rectory, this charming house is a significant example of a Gothic Revival villa in Victorian Canada,” reads the plaque. “With its board-and-batten siding and lively elevations featuring steep gabled roofs, pointed arches, decorative chimney stacks and varied projections, the dwelling blends harmoniously with its natural setting in accordance with 19th century ideals of the picturesque. The projecting porch, bay window, second floor balcony and verandah act as transitional spaces between the house and the surrounding park like grounds, reflecting a life of rural calm and agrarian gentility.”

Parks Canada and the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada proposed an online unveiling through social media but the Youngs had something more traditional in mind. They decided to host an event “to replicate the parties of Rev. and Mrs. Forster held for the congregation,” said Meg. “Except we served wine and they most likely would have served tea and biscuits.”

Dignitaries, visitor and community members gathered for the unveiling, speeches and tours of the house.

The house was built as the parish rectory in 1871 by St. Luke’s Church Rev. William Forster, who emigrated from England in 1850. It was designed by his brother, Richard Forster, an architect in England who also designed St. Luke’s. It is believed the name Claverleigh is an homage to their hometown of Claverton Down near Bath.

The Youngs have had the house since 1983 after they bought it from Meg’s father George McEvenue, who purchased in 1971.

The great-great grandchildren of Rev. Forster and his younger brother Fred Forster attended the ceremony, along with descendants of others who owned the house over the years.

Meg said they made an effort to invite anyone who has contributed to the ongoing preservation of the house.

Some people were married at the house, under the tulip tree, which was brought over from England and is in full bloom for the occasion.

“Many people have a connection to the house,” said Meg, whether through the church or the community or as groundskeepers.

The house continues to hold a certain fascination for locals and visitors.

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