Risky buy lands big reward
WHEN he wasn’t sailing the seven seas, Captain Richard Copping, after whom the township of Copping was named, came to rest at his four- room cottage in the green, secluded hills of Kellevie.
The 135- year- old Rochford Hall is still standing, with considerably more than four rooms, largely thanks to the efforts of Paul and Chris Lovell, who have spent the past 10 years restoring and modernising each room while maintaining the house’s original country feel.
Taking something of a real estate risk, the couple bought the 2.59ha property sight unseen in 2003.
Having missed the inspection, the Lovells came to look at the home the following day and put in an offer without even seeing inside.
“We’d been thinking about something in the country and we didn’t even really have a look at this, but by chance, with the way the sale proceeded we ended up with it,” Paul said.
“It was a bit of a mystery house when we fi rst came in.
“The front rooms had had some work done to them but other than that it was pretty run- down.”
Taking it room by room, the pair have done much of the work themselves to create a modern country haven that respects the history of the home.
“We like to have a go at doing things ourselves to see what we can come up with because we feel we have a bit more ownership of the place that way,” Chris said.
“There were certain things we had to do fi rst in order to make it liveable, like fi xing the bedrooms.
“When we fi rst started we had a mattress in the front bedroom to sleep on while we sanded the fl oors.
“We went through that many discs because the fl oor had this really bad lacquer on it which ate them away.
“We shut ourselves off in there and it was a bit spooky sometimes.”
Peeling away decades of carpet and vinyl was a hard task but well worth the effort as they unveiled beautiful Baltic pine and Tasmanian oak boards underneath.
“A lot of things in the house were really well left but the fl oors were just a nightmare,” Chris said.
“The Shellac was just horrid, like tar on these beautiful boards.”
Chris simply oiled the Oregon walls and a new macrocarpa kitchen complements the other surrounding timbers.
The Georgian home has always been wellknown within the community and has served many varied purposes, including being a post offi ce, hay barn and even a maternity hospital in the 1920s.
The fi rst Tasmanian to sail a ship around the world, Copping named the property after the town his wife was from in Essex, England.
“We had someone here the other day who said their grandmother had worked as a maid here,” Chris said.
With its eye- like front windows and the front door for a nose, the style of Rochford Hall is known as a cat- eye house.
The second level was added in the 1970s and while it is unclear if it originally had a verandah, the Lovells have added one at the front as well as a side deck to catch the afternoon sun, plus a rear bar area.
In 2007, the fi rst lot of olive trees were planted in the property’s fl ourishing grove and Rochford Hall Olive Oil has since gone on to win a gold medal at this year’s Royal Hobart Fine Food Awards.