If you like cute kittens and delightful dogs, you’ll enjoy visiting Glanmore National Historic Site. You’ll find all kinds of these household pets hanging around.
Well, not literally. Their lifelike portrayals are the painted works of Horatio Henry Couldery (1832-1917). He was a prolific artist noted for his realistic animal studies. Many of the paintings, with their dark Victorian settings, picture vignettes of animals in playful settings. When the aristocrats of the art world were painting Persian and other purebred cats, Couldery was more interested in the ordinary tabby cats of the household. He became known as “Cats” Couldery. Children enjoyed his work in their books.
Couldery’s animal paintings are internationally renowned, and Glanmore National Historic Site is pleased to be the home of 42 of his paintings, the largest public collection in the world. Many of the paintings have been painstakingly restored and are on public display in Glanmore. The Couldery paintings form only a part of the larger Couldery Collection of some 1,500 pieces gathered in the late 1800s. These include European clocks, ceramics and jewellery. But the Couldery paintings are only one reason to visit Glanmore.
The building itself is a well-preserved artifact. This proud three-storey brick heritage structure is an outstanding example of domestic Second Empire architecture. From street-side, look for typical features of this style: turrets and a mansard roof with a cast-iron cresting, elaborate cornices, arched dormers and multicoloured slate. The house soars splendidly above its spacious surroundings on Bridge Street East in Belleville.
Once inside, you’ll be overwhelmed by the opulence of the wealthy class in the late 19th century. To modern eyes, the Victorian era was the age of clutter, but the clutter is fascinating. Take time to look it over piece by piece. Puzzle over the pieces you can’t identify, enjoy the ones you can. Overall, there are between 35,000 and 40,000 items in the various Glanmore collections, many used to decorate the rooms in the fashion of the late 1880s. Visitors can tour the magnificent staircase, the elegant dining room and the masculine billiard room with its antique pool table as well as the library and two bedrooms on the second floor.
Glanmore was built in 1882-1883 for wealthy banker John Philpot Curran Phillips and his wife Harriet Dougall Phillips. It was occupied by members of the family until 1971, when it was sold to become a public museum. It is operated now by the City of Belleville.