The other Churchill
SITTING on more than 16 hectares of lush Coal River Valley land is an unassuming sandstone homestead that can claim a connection to one of the world’s greatest men of the 20th century.
As the name of the Campania property ‘‘ Churchill’’ hints, the man who built the house, Winston Churchill Simmons, was a cousin of Lord Randolph Churchill, father of Sir Winston Churchill.
Born in Hobart in 1827, Simmons bought the land and built the main residence in 1845 and named it after the village in Somerset, England, where his father Lieutenant James Simmons was from.
He served as Warden and chief magistrate of Richmond for 42 years and regularly corresponded with Lord Randolph before his death in 1916.
The family lived in the home for 110 years before it passed to new owners and today Lexie and Angus MacLeod are very proud to call ‘‘ Churchill’’ their home.
Tasmanian- born Lexie and Scottish- born Angus bought the property in 2006 after moving from a renovated house in Acton.
‘‘ We went from totally modern to this which is so rich with history and it’s just awesome; you feel like you’ve come home,’’ Lexie said.
Just six months after moving in, the couple could have lost the historic property which sits directly next to the Coal River.
‘‘ I woke up in the middle of the night and could see this brightness outside and thought someone had left a light on,’’ Lexie said.
‘‘ Then I heard the crackling of fire and looked out the window to see the old summer house and the tree next to it ablaze.
‘‘ Luckily we had removed the ivy which ran from the main house over to the summer house, otherwise the whole place probably would have caught on fire.’’
Victorian- style gables, iron lacework and skillions have been added over the years and the original fireplaces, wood oven and combination of low and high ceilings have been retained.
Like many historic homes, it has its fair share of ghost stories.
‘‘ I feel that there is a lady here and I’m not quite sure why I feel that because I don’t usually believe that sort of thing,’’ Lexie said.
Even at 167 years old, the main residence is not the oldest part of the property. The original shearing shed, Lexie says, could date back as far as 1819 and has small slit windows that occupants could safely fire their guns out of without being shot themselves.
Today, the walls are lined with old sheep shearing equipment the MacLeods have been collecting.
Next door is a huge horse arena which, at one time, was converted for their daughter Tamara’s wedding. Now, Tamara’s six- month- old son sees the legacy of the original owner is carried on in his name – Hugh Winston O’Donnell.