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Having an interest in architecture, particularly in the Arts and Crafts style, I have long been covetous of a stay at Adelaide's Buxton Manor. This is one of the only Arts and Crafts places you can stay in Australia.
It is owned by an antique dealer Rodney Twiss and his wife Regina who own over twenty other heritage accommodation options in North Adelaide including a chapel and even a fire station.
The huge 1909 mansion was built in the William Morris 'Arts & Craft' theme of decorative red brick with steep sloping roof lines. It has been divided up into a number of accommodation options and our budget decreed that we stay in the Butler's Apartment which was still pretty grand and consisted of two master bedrooms, a huge heritage bathroom, club drawing room and a full kitchen with its own cellar.
Mr Twiss then left us in peace presumably zooming off in his Porsche.
We looked around. While there were a few Arts and Crafts pieces of furniture most of the decor was simply in keeping with the period with no object except perhaps for the television and a couple of reproduction Art Nouveau lamps newer than the 1920s. Gosh, there was even a Edna Ferber novel left next to my bed.
The wide L-shaped entry hall with its polished Baltic pine boards and runners was decorated with posters from various shows. This seemed out of keeping until I realised that these had been presented by the various actors who had stayed in the suite and all were signed copies.
The whole cast seemed to have signed the Phantom of the Opera poster, ditto for Jesus Christ Superstar and the Wizard of Oz where one actor had kindly written "I am so glad the yellow brick road lead me to the Butlers." There was also a signed photo of Leo McKern (better known to some as Rumpole of the Bailey) of his backing a jaguar out of Buxton Manor's drive.
I am afraid we left our Jaguar at home alongside our Porsche .
The drawing room had a clubby atmosphere with its bay windows, Indian wall hangings, Chinese wool carpets and various family heirlooms belonging to Rodney's great uncle who owned Buxton Manor in the 1920s. The mostly Indian themed room had much to do with the fact that diggers from the First World War had had served in places such as India and Egypt and many furnishings of the time reflected this.
The Butler's kitchen was dominated by a huge dresser with lots of Willow patterned crockery and kitchen antiquities. Apparently Rodney as an antique dealer is a bit of a bower bird with an "it might be useful some day" mentality.
In the kitchen was also a trap door that lead down to a cellar. Although I did not check it out I must say it preyed on my imagination.
My daughter grabbed the first bedroom which apparently was once the bedroom "of a very pampered child." Like my room it had a brass bed and beautiful antique furniture including a black Edwardian wing mirrored dressing table from1905.
There was a pamphlet for historic walks in the area and certainly the architecture and streetscapes in North Adelaide gave a surprisingly different take on Adelaide than I had experienced on previous visits.
But after giving up on this walk due to the heat we spent the afternoon in Buxton's gorgeous gardens, having to make our own G and T's as the butler was nowhere to be seen.
One of the unexpected sides of staying at Buxton Manor is that it is in the flight path for the airport. Although reclining in the garden we found it fascinating looking up at the underbellies of the large planes overhead and there seemed a moratorium on night flights so my daughter slept soundly.
Unfortunately it took me hours to get to sleep. The bed was comfortable and the environment quiet but what kept me awake was only my over-active imagination.
I had recently seen Cabin in the Woods a bizarre horror film by Joss Whedon where the cellar housed a number of bogey-men.
Then just before I retired I was reading though the publicity on the suite only to find that this was producer David Lightfoot's favourite suite and he had been staying here on and off since the 1990s. He was also behind one of the scariest films ever made Wolf Creek.
I think some of his nightmarish ideas rubbed off on me as it took me hours to even consider turning off the light.
However the next thing I knew the sun was streaming through the lace curtains. The cellar trap door which I had placed a chair on (just in case) had not budged and the knives remained securely in their wooden block.
Thankfully everything was still in its place in the morning