A busy day is coming to an end, it is 4-30pm as we arrive in Tenterfield and the sun is staring to set.
There it is our magnificent mansion that will be our home for the next 3 days.Can you see the turret on the roof? I plan to take a glass of wine up there and watch the sun go down. But first to put our bags in the bedroom. Bashi, the receptionist was an ever smiling, friendly and very good looking young Srilankan man who carried our bags to our room. We are in the Kirk Jensen room. (More about him later)
Look at that lovely 4 poster bed and the mattress was firm. In front of the lounge seat was a large flat screen tv and a heater kept us warm, the nights were getting cool. This room also had its own spacious and very clean en-suite.
But now to go up to the roof tower.Look at the beautiful wood in this spiral staircase it is red cedar. But that’s not all that is special about it. Back in 1888, when the house was being built, John Reid could not find a trades man to build it for him, so he sent the wood to England to have a crafts man design and build the staircase, then ship it back to Australia. Just imagine the cost and time involved. But John Reid was a perfectionist.
It was 5-30 and the lights were coming on across Tenterfield as cars headed home. It was an excellent 360deg view from the tower.
But once the sun went down a chill in the air drove us back to our room.
Next morning we came down stairs to the dining room for a buffet breakfast that was included in the price. Every thing you could think of was available under those lids including Srilankan pancakes and vegetarian puffs. Now we are well fortified for the day ahead…
But first we explored the house and I will give you a photo essay of this magnificent and historical mansion. So come with me for a walk back into history and a time of opulence, charm and prestige.
John Holmes Reid was a farmer who came from Scotland in the 1850’s and set up a farm near Tenterfield. He found tin on his farm, and became very wealthy. He had big dreams and the dreams became reality when he was elected as mayor for 3 terms. As befitted his status he had this stately and impressive mansion built. It was designed by Italian architects in the latest and grandest style of the era. It is built on a foundation excavated down to granite bedrock then set on granite blocks to give maximum stability. The house is described as the perfect time capsule. It is a 3 storey triple brick and stucco building with front bay windows and cast iron veranda and balcony decoration. The four panel front door has side and fan lights and the splendid vestibule has an archway supported by Italian style Corinthian columns.
The family lived here for over 50 years. The house became the centre of Tenterfield society and was the family home to 12 children who were cared for by 14 domestic staff.
But the house was commandeered by the government under the war act to be used as head quarters and an army hospital during WW11. In 1949 it was handed back to the Reid family. They had lost most of their finances in the stock exchange crash prior to the war and no longer had the money to maintain this grand old girl, so it was sold at auction in 1954 to a Greek fruiterer. He used it as a boarding house. Painting it white inside and out and covering the floors in shag pile and lino. All the beauty of the previous design was lost.
Then in 1997 the house was purchased by Kirk Jensen and Peter Gelhaar . (remember we are staying in the Kirk Jensen room) experts in Victorian era restoration, they set about the enormous task of returning the house to its former glory. They have excelled in its restoration. Every room is a feast for the eyes. The ceilings are spectacular.
Completely original Victorian Italian décor is found throughout. It is like stepping back in time.This Italian marble fireplace was originally imported by John Reid from Italy. It was then approximately 170 years old and due to its age, had to be shipped over in one piece. It is still fully functional. There are another 9 marble fireplaces around the house.
All the curtains and fittings are top quality and that red carpet was bought from Buckingham Palace when they had the fire and replaced all the carpets.Look at all the delightful details from the Victorian era, tastefully positioned as if someone had just put them down.I was very interested in all the art work. Again it was all chosen and selected to reflect this opulent era. The old gramophone player with a stack of records was very popular entertainment at this time.Are you old enough to remember this old Phillips “his master’s voice” gramophone? I can remember playing records on one and as it wound down the voice would trail off, then you would madly wind it up again to keep it going.
The piano made by Hundt and son Germany once belonged to the German royal family and is said to have been played by Strauss. I was so tempted to straighten that lamp shade, but resisted the urge in case I dropped it…
There was so much to look at, every where you turned was things of beauty.
It took 5 years to restore. I can only imagine the dedication that has gone into it and the enormous cost, finding all the antiques would be a huge mission. But finally in June 2003 it was reopened.
Then 2 years ago it was sold again and this time Dr Mohan Sirribaddana a Srilankan doctor and his family bought it. I had the pleasure to talk to him and he said that he wants to share this place with as many people as possible so he dropped the price from $200/night to $99 and includes a full breakfast. I like that philosophy.
So now we are going to spend the rest of the day wandering around Tenterfield.
Cathy of “Wander Essence” hosts a number of monthly invitations to join her in presenting posts about various aspects of travel. Go here to see what they are, you may like to join her community. I am linking this to her monthly “Photography” invitation.