BACK in 1948, FM Smedley had a vision: to create an exact replica of his British Tudor-style home, but this time in a quiet corner of Mill Park.
It was a vision in which no expense was spared: stone and stone masons were imported from Scotland and German carpenters were brought in to work on both the half-timber exterior and also the regal staircase leading to the bedroom area. Eventually the vision was completed and, over the years, the Eaton Road house has been home to many happy families, with the latest family purchasing the house 18 years ago.
While carrying out some renovations which still stay true to the traditional British post-war elegance of the home, the main focus was on setting about transforming the garden into a truly stunning affair.
When they bought it the garden was somewhat neglected, but that wasn’t a problem for the green- fingered new owner, who was tackling her fourth such project.
And it won’t be the last for, with heavy hearts, the couple have put the property on the market, feeling that it is has outgrown their needs.
“It is just too big for us, we need to downscale and allow another family the privilege that it is to live here,” the owner says.
While the garden is home to an impressive array of water-saving cacti (one even has a name – Stompie!) and succulents, it also stays true to the idea of the English secret garden, with pathways leading off into lots of separate and interesting garden areas.
Adjacent to the impressive gated entrance there’s a fever-tree forest interspersed with wild poppies. There’s also unusual paper-bark trees and not one but two koi ponds – one in a fountain, the second a massive affair under a covered pergola. An unusual feature of the latter koi pond is the pump which was sourced while the couple were on holiday in Sweden. “It cost us more to get the pump back from Sweden than our boat tickets had cost but it was worth every cent,” says the owner who, over the years, has poured hundreds of thousands of rands into creating the remarkable outdoor living area, which, naturally features a large swimming pool.
And so to the interior of the stunning and unusual home where much of the original Tudor style decor has been maintained.
A paved patio leads to what can only be described as an imposing wood-tiled entrance hall, to the right of which is the large formal lounge which is not only big enough to easily accommodate two large lounge suites but also the owner’s impressive collection of antique teddy bears.
The windows throughout are lead-paned, echoing the Tudor theme, and the lounge has a stunning bay window. While there are art works throughout the house, many of them by relatives of the family, one immediately jumps out – a painting of the exterior of the house, done by the couple’s daughter when she was just 13.
To the left of the entrance hall is the equally large formal dining room, which houses another of the owner’s collections, this time of antique dolls ranging in date from 1865 to 1910.
And so to the heart of any home, where a slight concession has been made to modern living, with the spacious and recently revamped kitchen featuring a large centre island and not one but two ovens.
The traditional theme of the house is, however, maintained with the use of 1820-style cupboards and hinges. The kitchen is spacious enough to feature a less formal dining area and continues with another of the owner’s collections, this time an array of brass pots and kettles. There’s a separate scullery area, and the wooden floor gives off a lovely warmth, while modern downlights give ample lighting to the area. Adjacent to the dining room there’s a wine cellar and to the other side of the staircase, which features wrought iron Tudor roses, there’s a guest loo.
Upstairs there’s a cosy pyjama or TV room and four bedrooms, including a really spacious master suite which again cleverly mixes the modern with the old. The en-suite bathroom has a freestanding bath, separate shower, toilet and bidet while the sink is set in a large wooden unit.
Completing the accommodation on offer there’s a small guest cottage sited close to the pool and at a discreet distance from the main building. Sited as it is at the end of a quiet cul de sac this home, which was also featured in the book Dream Homes of Mill Park, really does bring an impressive touch of yesterday’s England to today’s thriving metropolis.
The Eaton Road home is on the books of Solomons Crafford and the asking price is in the upper R5-million bracket.