Reasons to return : #2 The Mansion…

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.thunderbolt lair bald rock autumn leaves 004_3137x2281Can 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.stannum house-10_3888x5184Look 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.



stannum house-3_4000x3000But once the sun went down a chill in the air drove us back to our room.

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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…stannum house-37_5184x3888



stannum house-41_5184x3888But 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. stannum house-39_5184x3888

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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.stannum house-18_4895x3671stannum house-26_3888x5184This 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.

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stannum house-28_3722x4963All 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.stannum house-33_3888x5184stannum house-15_3888x5184Look at all the delightful details from the Victorian era, tastefully positioned as if someone had just put them down.stannum house-17_4581x3436stannum house-32_5184x3888I 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.stannum house-21_3560x3888Are 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.stannum house-16_5184x3888



stannum house-34_3888x5184The 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.


  1. It’s like being in your Granny’s parlour, Pauline, but on a very grand scale, of course. 🙂 🙂 And I love the king of the castle moment up top, and that mighty staircase. Wonderfully detailed post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really enjoyed putting this post together Jo, it was quite hard to chose which photos to use as I took so many, everywhere you looked was another treasure, all the paintings were original oils, the amount it must’ve cost beggars belief.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This mansion is astonishing!!! I was going to compliment on the staircase but every room is a little treasure on its own.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Why does such a luxurious former home have such minimal garden space? Perhaps too much landscaping would obscure too much of the house, so it is just as well. It really is exquisite.

    Liked by 1 person

      • The old Bay View Hotel in Aptos was an old Victorian resort hotel that had been converted into low rent studios for formerly homeless people. A good friend of mine lived there. (That was Steven, who I wrote about in regard to the Memorial Tree a few days ago.) I could not believe when he was assigned a room there, but was suddenly disappointed to see the condition of the place. The lady who managed it was a serious hoarder, and filled it so full of junk that it was difficult to get around in the hallways, and even the rented out rooms had ‘stuff’ stored in them. The old Victorian garden was in shambles. It was so sad for such an elegant old building that has survived through so much.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I have serious turret envy (I probably had it the last time you showed this place too). What wealth a) the founder and b) the restorer must have had to create something to this leve of opulence. I would be terrified just walking around in case I broke something!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes it was the thought of how much it all cost, twice, that kept going round my mind too. That turret was taken down by the Greek fruiterer and had been rebuilt, just another attention to detail

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderful description and your photos have captured the highlights.
    All other old historic houses the rooms are roped off where as at Stannum House we had full access.
    Only one room had a cord across the doorway and we had it mostly to our self.
    Thanks Pauline for finding fabulous places. 😎

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a stunning place, Pauline, and your photo essay has highlighted it beautifully. So many well-researched details harkening back to the Victorian era. I can certainly see how it took them 5 years to restore it. I wonder why they sold it to the Sri Lankan doctor. I wonder if they were ever able to recoup what they spent on the restoration or, alternatively, if they made a bundle by renovating it and creating such a masterpiece? I bet you enjoyed your wine in the turret and the cozy bed, as well as that scrumptious breakfast. This mansion is certainly a reason to return.

    Thank you again for linking up. I’ll link it to my photography invitation which is scheduled for Thursday I think! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Goodness it really is a time capsule, imagine what fun it must have been hunting down every little item there, it must have been a mammoth international shopping trip. The spiral staircase is splendid as is the tower, I wonder what the view would have been like back when it was built 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s beautiful! I’d like to stay there. Your sunset was lovely. Sorry it was too cold to stay out longer.

    I loved the entry hall/foyer hall tree with the little tapestry purse, top hat, and fur stoles! They lived in a glamorous era!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. As an Aussie I’ve driven through Tenterfield a number of times and have seen that grand old house. It was wonderful to read it’s history and to be taken on a virtual tour. It is marvel of loving restoration and attention to detail. It must have felt like you were stepping back in time when you spent a night there. What a visual treat.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Quite amazing Pauline. Like most others I was drawn to that amazing staircase. What an extravagance! And the little Victoria of course. I’d have to think about how much dusting I’d need to do before putting together such a treasure trove!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was amazed at the lack of dust everywhere. I certainly wouldn’t want to spend the time dusting it all. The carpet on the stairs was also part of the carpet bought from Buckingham palace it looked so luxurious


  11. Wow wow WOW! The first time’round, the images did not load, and I had to wait til the next trip to town to see that staircase that several people commented about! It is indeed an amazing staircase!

    Staying there was surely a lovely respite for you both!

    Liked by 1 person

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