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FEATURE LISTING: Martin Hamilton-Smith’s Adelaide Hills manor hits the market

This heritage manor at Stirling has been meticulously restored by its owners, former state Opposition leader Martin Hamilton-Smith and his wife Stavroula. Now, it’s your chance to own a slice of South Australia’s history.

Martin Hamilton-Smith tells SALIFE that he and his wife Stavroula enjoy the challenge of restoring heritage homes, having previously brought back to life an 1880s bluestone home in Mitcham.

“Getting the balance right between the historic character of a home and making it comfortable for modern living and modern families is a challenge we like,” says Martin.

“Adelaide is blessed with an array of beautiful homes and we love to see them brought back to life.

“I love seeing South Australia’s architectural heritage preserved; I hate to see these homes bulldozed or renovated out of character.

“There are some remarkable homes in Adelaide … there are a lot of people out there doing the same thing we’re doing and they’re still standing, these homes, after 150 to 200 years, and I hope they’re standing for another 150 to 200 years.”

Martin says that when they bought 14 Orley Avenue, Stirling, “it had good bones but needed a lot of love”, and credits his wife’s talent in design for the tasteful restoration.

This meant retaining the home’s historic features like its 10 Victorian-era fireplaces and the painstaking restoration of the copper ceiling, which took 22 artisans about five weeks to complete.

Martin and Stavroula also restored the 19th-century hand-carved pulpit, originally from a church in the United Kingdom and now used as part of the kitchen benchtop.

Known as St Ann’s, the house was originally built in the 1860s, with additions added in the 1880s.

The estate is steeped in history and has been home to numerous prominent Adelaide Hills residents.

This includes the former Inspector-General of South Australian schools Lionel William Stanton; former Legislative Council Member, brewer and businessman William Knox Simms; and Sydney Dawkins, who was the local Stirling doctor.

For a period in the 1920s, St Ann’s was also run as a private school.

The five-bedroom, two-storey stone villa sits on a large estate of over an acre.

Martin says the location is ideal, being just a short walk to the Stirling Hotel, a twenty-to-thirty-minute drive to the CBD and near to the Barossa and McLaren Vale wine regions.

“I’m a classic car lover and a motorcyclist, and your access to the Adelaide Hills and the country from Stirling is second to none. If you’re a motoring enthusiast, there’s no better place to live,” says Martin.

On the lower level of St Ann’s, there is a bedroom/home theatre, a sitting room, a library and two bathrooms.

On the upper level, there are four bedrooms, including the master bedroom with a spacious dressing room and an ensuite. You will also find the lounge and formal dining room, the kitchen, dining and living area, the pantry, the laundry and a separate bathroom.

The house also has a double garage, a cellar and a garden studio.

Stepping outdoors onto the wraparound verandah, you will enter the majestic traditional European garden, which Martin also credits Stavroula for re-establishing.

“She’s been the creative input into all of the garden work and has created something that’s very, very special indeed,” he says.

The garden, with its historic trees, has been open to the public on several occasions and Martin says it is one of a number of very elegant gardens in the Stirling village precinct.

“The way the garden interacts with the house is a feature of the home. Sometimes they’re separate, but in this case, the garden wraps itself around the house,” he says.

Martin and Stavroula are now looking for a new custodian to take care of St Ann’s as they move onto new projects including a potential restoration in Greece.

“It would suit a large family that wants to enjoy the spaces in the house and the gardens and the open entertaining areas, of which there are many,” he says.

“It’s got an interesting story to tell. You may own them, but you’re just a custodian to pass them on to a future family who hopefully will love it as much as we have.”

Martin says that one thing he and Stavroula will miss is the sense of community on their street in Stirling.

“The Adelaide Hills and Stirling in particular would have to be one of Australia’s best-kept secrets,” Martin says. “Where else in Australia can you live in such a wonderful location in such lovely homes and still be a short drive from the CBD?”

The sale of 14 Orley Avenue, Stirling is being handled by Christos Raptis from Raptis Real Estate.