HomeHome + GardenHistory unearthed at Kenton Park

History unearthed at Kenton Park

Large swathes of red roses attracted Jane and Hans Liedig to their heritage-listed property.

Tucked away behind a large grove of towering oak trees, an 18th Century Georgian-style stone home with links to Gumeracha’s history still stands proudly overlooking the River Torrens.

Built in the 1840s, the property was the home of pioneer William Beavis Randell, who was a manager of the South Australia Company, overseeing farms in the Adelaide Hills.

Today, the heritage-listed property is home to Jane and Hans Liedig who are only its second owners since it was sold by descendants of Randell in 2000.

“We were living in Inglewood – we loved Inglewood – we didn’t ever think we’d move, but we used to come up and visit my son … and I saw that this old place was open for inspection and I always wanted to know what was behind the trees,” Jane says.

“So we came up and as soon as we saw all the stone and everything Hans was hooked – he loved the old stone barns and all the rest of it.

“I suppose we’ve been working on the garden ever since.”

The garden, which had been largely restored by the previous owners, features large swathes of red roses, which Hans says attracted the couple to the property.

The sprawling 9ha property is a patchwork of farmland and different garden styles, including a formal English garden, where the roses can be found, a vast oak grove, a vegetable patch, chicken coop and a wild “secret garden” of sprawling understorey and dense oaks, which were planted by Randell when he established the property.

“Rumour has it that the oaks at the property were from trees from Sherwood Forest,” Jane says.

“He obviously planted them, so he must have brought them from somewhere – I know they came from England.

“But that, to me, was quite lovely.”

At its peak the Kenton Park estate comprised around 400ha and Randell went about trying to replicate an English garden at the property, planting English trees including oaks, poplars and chestnuts, dividing his fields with hedges, and importing English songbirds.

A committed Baptist, church services were held at Kenton Park before the Salem Baptist Church, which still stands today, was built in 1846 on land donated by Randell.

Randell laid out the township of Gumeracha in the early 1850s, subdividing some of his own land, with blocks selling for between £20 to £30.

Today the home at Kenton Park is surrounded by other historic buildings, including a heritage-listed stone barn.

“Hans’ dad was a stonemason, so the old stone barns and that were quite captivating to him,” Jane says.

“… (The history) fascinates me and if I’m digging in the garden and find pieces of pottery, I love all that, bits of old articles and pottery – that’s interesting.”

The Liedigs opened the property to the public for the first time two years ago as part of the Open Gardens scheme, raising $9000 for the CFS, of which they are both members.

They plan to open it again in October, but have also welcomed members of the Randell family into their home.

“We encourage the Randells – and there’s a lot of them – to come up,” Jane says.

“I say to them when they come, I don’t mind, because I would like it if I went back to England and someone said ‘come in’ for me to see my grandparents’ place.

The Liedigs opened the property to the public for the first time two years ago … raising $9000 for the CFS, of which they are both members

“A lot of them came to our open garden and I had a chat with them and they’re lovely people.”

The Liedigs share the property with a menagerie of animals, including sheep, cows, a horse, alpacas and even the odd peacock.

And while Hans describes maintaining the property as a “full time job”, it’s become the perfect place for them to live a “full life” in their retirement.

“We’re very close to the township, yet we’re very secluded,” Hans says.

“We don’t hear very much from the road, we have our own little world here.

“But it’s not only that, it’s the presence of the home, the entrance, the lifestyle that it affords us.

“We used to have a holiday home,” Jane adds, “but you don’t really need a holiday home when you’re here – I never want to go away.

“I just go to the garden and I can be in the garden all day.”

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