DIANNE BUT­LER OUT OF THE BOX

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Front Page -

ISAW an episode of that cop show Caro­line Quentin was in: she never did any­thing like the act­ing she does here on Restora­tion Home. Clearly the dif­fer­ence is she wasn’t a po­lice of­fi­cer, but she has fixed up houses. ‘‘ I know from per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence the hard path our fam­i­lies have cho­sen to fol­low,’’ she says. ‘‘ I’ve spent many years restor­ing var­i­ous dif­fer­ent prop­er­ties in an at­tempt to cre­ate the per­fect fam­ily home.’’

Are these what any­one could call fam­ily homes though? Or more places to shoot the next Down­ton Abbey? Steve and Natalie Drury bought Stoke Hall for around $3.8 mil­lion and plan to spend a fur­ther $2.3 mil­lion do­ing it up. It’ll need that and more. It’s a 30-room Ge­or­gian mess, and it needs sav­ing be­fore the cruel rav­ages of time blah blah blah. Quentin lays it on with a trowel. If she’s not care­ful they’ll be get­ting her to do mor­tar work.

No­body wanted to buy it. And not only be­cause of the price or be­cause the last owner had started to work on it and then died. ‘‘ I could see what put a lot of peo­ple off,’’ says Steve. ‘‘ The buck­ets catch­ing all the rain water. Um, dry rot ev­ery­where.’’

And de­spite Natalie’s stoic dec­la­ra­tion that the house is ‘‘ amaz­ing,’’ it’s not long be­fore she’s look­ing grim and say­ing she doesn’t think they’d buy an­other listed build­ing again. ‘‘ Ever.’’

And yet all over Bri­tain his­toric build­ings are in dan­ger of be­ing lost for­ever, Quentin’s emo­tional in­tro­duc­tion goes. The tragedy is — yes, do ex­plain what the tragedy is — they’re far more than bricks and mor­tar, she says. Far less, ac­tu­ally, by the look of it, but keep go­ing Caro­line: ‘‘ They’re the keep­ers of our past.’’

I’ve al­ways thought the past is over­rated. Restora­tion Home ABC1, 7.30pm

Act­ing out: Caro­line Quentin

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