Samuel and Anne Peters left their native Devon in England to come to Canada in 1835. His training as a civil engineer and land surveyor seemed to fit well with the requirements of the newly developing country. His first employment was with the Canada Land Company in Goderich. Samuel’s wife and family, however, preferred to live in London, and there was plenty of work for a surveyor in the rapidly growing community.
They bought 500 acres of land from George Goodhue and had their nephew design the house. The result was a gracious Victorian residence in the manner of a Tudor country house. Work on the house began in 1853 and the family moved in a year later.
The façade is adorned with paired gable finials and paired gable panels, one marked with the date stone and the other with Samuel Peters’ monogram. The corners are emphasized by quoins topped by corbels.
The imposing front entrance has Gothic heads to the sidelights and door, and recessed spandrels emphasize the Gothic heads with rectangular frames. Both the sidelights and the transom have leaded glass with decorative treatment and monograms.
The heavy wooden front door and its side panels are of the linen fold design and the alignment of the paneling indicates much attention to detail. The stained glass window over the front door has the initials S and A, for Samuel and Anne, entwined in a Victorian love knot.
The verandah gave the house a connecting link with the surrounding grounds and provided a place for the family to repose in the shade during the hot and humid summers. This stifling heat would have been a surprise to people coming from England’s gentler climate. There is a small summer house in the grounds which may well have been used for serving afternoon tea during Anne’s heyday as the chatelaine of Grosvenor Lodge.
Grosvenor Lodge remained in the Peters family for three generations. This extensive country estate, originally a working farm, was refined into a gentleman’s farm under the stewardship of Samuel and Anne’s son John, who inherited the property.
John was a Justice of the Peace and raised thoroughbred horses and greyhounds on the farm. Leila Gertrude Peters, John’s daughter, was only 25 years old when she inherited the house in 1915 and a gracious yet industrious family life continued through most of the twentieth century. Leila raised shorthorn cattle, made her own butter and ran the farm business from the kitchen. She married James Paul Dunn and had a son, William Lawrie Dunn.
Leila Peters Dunn lived in the house until her death in 1974. Two years before she died, Leila sold the property to the University of Western Ontario under the condition that it be preserved as an historic site. The Lodge was designated as a Heritage building under the Ontario Heritage Act in 1972. The University transferred the ownership to the City of London in 1977. At that time the London Public Library Board took over, and from 1981 operated the Lodge as the Lawson Museum and History Centre. In 1990 Heritage London Foundation entered into an agreement with City and since then the Lodge has been run as The London Regional Resource Centre for Heritage and the Environment.