Often I find myself wonderlusting over the historic places and stories from Britain, across Europe and the Americas. I love old architecture and looking into the everyday lives of people from years gone by. So I have had to remind myself to look for the beauty and history here in Australia though we are a young country we do have a lot of interesting houses and people who have formed our nation, we just have to seek them.
So having heard of a vintage fair I tootled off with my family to Woodlands House near Marburg, a splendid plantation manor house built in 1890 by the Thomas Smith after his father, a wealthy timber trader, bought the land in 1870. The estate boasts a small vineyard, lovely long lawns, hand dug swimming pool, ironwork details classic to the Victorian period and a cemetery from its days as a seminary in World War II. The market had home crafts, candles and local produce, but truthfully wasn’t as brilliant as we anticipated, I am hoping next time more vintage vendors will be there.
We spent an afternoon wandering its halls, having a picnic in the cool grass with the Winter sun beaming over our heads and listening to tales of its colourful history.
The house has had many lives, originally a family home for The Smiths and their 11 children, you can still imagine the elegant Victorian ladies in all their finery watching the gents play tennis in their private tennis court. Lemonade anyone?
In 1944 the house was sold to Order of the Divine Word, a missionary order founded in Holland, and was used as a rest home for evacuated missionaries during World War II, they built a chapel which is still used for weddings today.
These lovely ladies helped set the scene, I can just imagine lovely ladies from Marburg visiting the soldiers and lifting their spirits.
The house was briefly owned by Ipswich Grammar school from 1986 until in 2002 when the local Cooper family bought the property, opening it to the public for the first time. Their restoration work has been extensive, ironically though it is constantly hindered by its Heritage listing, which puts so much red tape on what you can do, it would seem the government would rather see it fall to ruins completely, just to keep all of the original features, which could easily be replicated/restored by specialist craftsmen. I admire people who have the patience to reinstate historical places to their former glory, especially with the little to no funding they receive.
It felt good to pay for a tour and know we have contributed to the expensive running of such a lovely spot. If you have a hankering for a lovely high tea or romantic getaway the house is open over the weekends. They serve a seasonal menu for lunch and dinner and hold business conferences.
As a wedding venue I have to say it was the perfect country house, with upstairs rooms set aside for bridal dressing photos, and can just imagine the beautiful photos a professional photographer could get during a sunset over the vineyards.
I will definitely be returning to have a seasonal lunch looking out of the grand windows over the hills on a Sunday and enjoy some local wine.
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