MARCH 2018 | Mark Butson
AS YOU drive along Meander Valley Road into Deloraine, you catch a glimpse of an imposing heritage home on your left, hidden behind a forest of large trees.
Upon entering Tahara, it has a feeling of royalty with soaring ceilings, magnificent marble fireplaces, original hand painted wall frescoes depicting Cradle Mountain, grand crystal chandeliers and breathtaking lead light doors and windows. There are several large elegant rooms, including a ballroom and 6 bedrooms.
In fact, there is a royal connection with Tahara. Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh visited the Fitzpatrick family there in 1954, whilst driving from Devonport to Launceston and Connorville. Some locals recall the limousine cruising up the driveway.
The architecture is predominantly Georgian, with the symmetry and proportions of the windows, slate roof and the lack of eaves. However, it also has classical Victorian features, such as the cast iron verandah lacework and balustrading. Some have referred to an Italianate Villa style, but this appearance has only been created by the removal of the upper verandah roof in 1970. Original features include the Butler’s pantry, servant’s staircase and servant’s bells in the bedrooms and kitchen.
The home is in exceptional structural condition, thanks to many owners from 1983 to 2010, who all paid attention to drainage, roof plumbing, painting and electrical works.
The present owners (from 2010) Rod and Lynne Paul, have restored the original coach house and gardener’s cottage. The property originally comprised 160 acres, however parcels of land were sold over the last 128 years, and there is now 6.5 acres remaining. The gardens feature trees originally imported from England, including Chestnuts, Laurels, Oaks and Liquid Ambers.
Tahara was completed in 1889 for Caleb and Jessie Smith. The builder was Gunn from Launceston, the stonemason and bricklayer was Tidey from Deloraine.
Caleb Smith had shipping interests in George Town, before farming in the Deloraine area where he made considerable wealth.
Caleb and Jessie had 5 children and Jessie died 1897. Caleb married Elsie Fellows in 1908 and had 2 more children. He sold the home to Mr Furmage in 1915. William Field bought Tahara in 1919. Ownership passed to William Fitzpatrick in 1922 and it remained in the family until 1983.
William Fitzpatrick was Warden for the Deloraine Council and Secretary of the Meander Racing Club, and owned many race horses.
He married Sarah Goodridge in 1883, and they had one son and 5 daughters. They owned the Deloraine and British hotels and the Bush Inn.
The family made generous donations to the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Deloraine, including a marble altar and fittings. They employed Norman Bird a full time gardener at Tahara for 70 years. He lived in the gardeners cottage, which is now a holiday home.
Photo | Mike Moores