Okay, I know that under the ‘History’ heading you can find out all about Stanton’s beginnings and everything in between, but this photograph prompts a quick architectural/veranda explanation.
When Stanton was first built in 1817, and as evidenced by other historical photographs and paintings, she was a typical rectangular symmetrical unpainted Georgian house, built from convict bricks produced on site … and … no verandahs!
The rather wonderful sandstone steps, worn to a frazzle by 188 years of constant to-ings and fro-ings, are original, but when, around 1940, the new owners, the Cockerills, decided to graft wooden verandas to the front and two sides, the steps were fortunately moved and re-used.
Waste not, want not. In 1940, the new flooring was wooden, both top and bottom, and the only access to the upstairs veranda was via an external wooden staircase which snaked around beside the chimney breast at the rear of the house (think about it, or have a look at the floor plans we’ve included somewhere in this site).
Yep, no doorway through the now library upstairs, that was just a window. (According to my neighbour Phil, who is a past resident of Stanton, the many kids who lived here used to careen around the veranda, jumping in and out of each other’s bedrooms and generally causing utter mayhem, and scaring the living daylights out of any visitors — nice touch, I think.)
When the Rumley family bought the property in 1988, Ian Rumley set about correcting that access with the conversion of the window to French doors upstairs, and replacing the by-then rotting downstairs floorboards with the beautiful and immense sandstone blocks you see today.
A visitor to Stanton soon after we arrived asked whether we were going to be ‘Georgian purists’, and remove the verandas altogether, in addition to stripping the paint off the bricks, and return her to her ‘former glory’.
“Mmm … no”, I said. Most houses grow with their owners and their needs and budget, even the brilliant ones like Entally and Clarendon up near Launceston.
The symmetry of Stanton is not lost by their addition, and the living quality, which is after all the important thing, is enhanced. The house seems to sit comfortably with her new protuberance, and since arriving, we have replaced the rather dangerous upstairs floorboards and joists, and installed lighting both upstairs and down.
Our neighbours joke that when the lights of Stanton are a-glow, the whole valley suffers a power melt-down, but it is a magnificent sight to behold (and the pizza man can’t miss it on a dark night.)
As for removing the paint from the brickwork, I have yet to be convinced that the cure is not more dangerous than the disease, since convict bricks shatter and fall to powder much easier than their modern counterparts, but who knows, maybe one day …
Meanwhile, follow the trend of family, friends and guests alike, and take your drink/nibbles/book/crossword/newspaper/guitar/camera out to the verandahs and enjoy the view. The builders of Stanton would surely approve.