The other Churchill

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - HOME - Jes­sica Howard Email howardjr@the­mer­

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.

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