Charming past filled with gold
A gold mine is one among the many interesting features of historic Montacute House and its grounds, writes Ben Hyde.
AN interesting history and ancestry of Montacute House complement the property’s unique features, which include a gold mine. The two-storey home was built for pastoralist Arthur Taggart Stainbank and wife Florence in 1882.
Vendors Peter and Sue Chapman, who have owned Montacute House since March, 1966, say the property’s history was one of the key attractions.
‘‘The house was built when they (Stainbanks) came out from England and they built the house out of sandstone that was mined on the property,’’ Mrs Chapman says.
‘‘(Stainbank’s) dad made the bell for Big Ben, which was of a bit of interest to us.’’
Another interesting feature was the gold mine, which started in the late 1800s and was struck into the side of a hill, then down a deep shaft.
‘‘Stainbank started the mine and his father, who made the bells for Big Ben, also owned ships and the gold from the mine was put on the ships as ballast,’’ Mrs Chapman says.
‘‘There is still gold in there – the thing is, how to get it out?’’
But it was the house, which sits on almost 10ha of native bushland, that was the major attraction for the Chapmans.
‘‘I think what attracted Peter most was the charm of the place,’’ Mrs Chapman says.
‘‘It was just so quaint and it had this little veranda on the front.
‘‘It was in a little bit of disrepair and Peter loves to fiddle and do things up so with the help of other people, he was able to restore it.’’
The house is loaded with original character features, including high ceilings, open fireplaces, ceiling roses, leadlight windows and doors, lacework, decorative plaster arches, carved wooden architraves and tessellated tiled verandas.
Downstairs boasts a host of formal rooms, including dining, sitting and drawing rooms, and a study.
Also downstairs is an eat-in countrystyle kitchen and a family room.
Upstairs are three bedrooms, including the master with an ensuite and adjoining dressing room or fourth bedroom.
Patios and outdoor entertaining areas surround much of the property, which the vendors say provide the perfect place to soak up the scenery.
‘‘The birdlife is wonderful because there is loads of plant life that attracts all the birds,’’ Mrs Chapman says.
‘‘It’s just a wonderful thing to do to just sit in the family room surrounded by all these birds and trees. On a sunny morning, we’ll often just sit on the porch and see koalas in the trees. It’s quiet and peaceful and the air is clean and fresh.’’
Other features include stone stables, a swimming pool, plum orchard, olive grove and a 10cu m cold room for the annual fruit harvest.
Mrs Chapman says the location is one of the standout features. ‘‘We are only 20 minutes from the heart of the city,’’ she says.
‘‘It’s amazing how you can drive back up Montacute Rd and as soon you turn the bend, it’s just so peaceful and divine.
‘‘It’s just a lovely place to live up here and it has a great community spirit.’’
The Chapmans won’t miss much of the location, as they are only moving a short distance away.
‘‘We will miss the house because it has been home, and it has loads and loads of happy memories,’’ Mrs Chapman says.