STORIES

 

Former owner Kath Kepple (Aged 94 in 2019)

Shortly after purchasing Poets Lodge, we received a hand written letter...

Dear Angeline and Richard,

I hope this is the first letter you receive in your new home

I also hope that the house brings you as much happiness as it did for me and my family over many decades of ownership

Kindest regards, Kath Kepple

From this most gracious letter started a friendship, we wrote back to Kath thanking her for such a kind note and seeking a phone number, which was provided. This progressed to many conversations and further letters from Kath. Kath’s association with Poets Lodge dated back to her early childhood aged 6. She would travel with her grandmother (a widower) from Melbourne to Daylesford via train. Alighting at Daylesford station in 1929, the cabbies would be waiting for weekend visitors to the ‘Spa country’. “Sixpence to Hepburn, thruppence to Daylesford” the cabbies would shout to potential customers as they collected their trunks and suitcases from the train. Kath remembers sitting on her grandmother’s knee so they would only be charged one fare.

In conversation, Kath’s mind is as clear as a bell, she remembered everything and delighted to tell her stories, sharing her memories. She described The Main House, even down to the colour of wallpaper and motives on that paper which she helped hang as a teenager. As we stripped off wall papers, we kept perfect samples from each room to one day show Kath.

“If you are in the bathroom, maybe it’s still pink, but underneath that’s its yellow and then pale blue, and before that green, then brown” sure enough in reverse order as we stripped and sanded the bathroom walls, there were all the colours, layer after layer in the order we were told, due to the bathroom requiring a fresh coat of paint, every decade or so.

She kept tabs on our progress, letters would arrive with cuttings from home beautiful and interior design magazines, with pictures circled and paragraphs highlighted, and a little note in slightly wobbly handwriting, Dear Angeline and Richard, I keep thinking about the house and your progress, I thought this might give you a few ideas in your renovations.

One day a parcel arrived with a lovely note, Kath had posted a set of brass taps and bathroom fittings she had purchased 50 years beforehand intending to use in her own renovation of The Main House which never eventuated.

Kath rang us one day “I’m just sitting here at home (94 and still living independently) and I was thinking there’s not a place on this earth I’d rather be than that sweet little house in Daylesford”

Having almost finished our renovations, we told Kath we would come and collect her for a visit. As the day of our first face to face meeting approached, she called advising of a change in plan. Her friend Archie (aged 78) from her local RSL had decided to “take a road trip with her for the day”.

And so they arrived, it had been 35 years since Kath had last stepped through the front door of The Main House at Poets Lodge, she shed tears from the front porch to the back, delighted at everything she saw. We sat in the kitchen for several hours chatting, telling stories and eating a cake she had baked herself. We learned learned everything about days gone by in Poets Lodge

We recorded volumes of notes, following are some highlights of our discussions.

Kath’s mother had died when she was a child, so she was raised by her grannie. By the time Kath was 2, grannie was a widower. Grannie lived in rented accommodation, she had a friend named Jack also renting a house near where she lived. Between them they decided to combine their savings and buy a guest house in Daylesford as a business proposition.

They hired the services of a maid, who lived in a tiny room to cook and clean when the house was occupied, they hired musicians from Melbourne to entertain the guests over the course of the weekend, these musicians ‘bunked in’ with Old Jack in his cottage. Kath and grannie slept together in the main house.

With a crystal clear mind she explained the layout of The Main House, delighted by the few structural changes that had been made during our restorations, she walked through the backyard explaining exactly where the toilet block and showers used to be, the small vegetable garden and chook house, she marvelled at the immense size of the European laurels in the garden and their tiny pink blossoms.

Kath and Jack also become great friends, Kath was married with children, the family spending most weekends and all holidays together with Jack at Poets Lodge. Jack now lived in his little cottage full time, grannie had passed away about 5 years earlier.

Kath believed that Old Jack had no family, over the decades he had never introduced any relatives, yet just before his death a whole bunch of family suddenly turned up, Kath even met some of them. After Jack died Kath made enquiries, only to learn that her grannies name was not on the title to Poets Lodge, therefore making Jack the sole owner of the house.

Heartbroken, Kath thought she would never enjoy the house again, it would be sold by the newly appeared family. However sometime later, Jacks solicitors contacted her, Jack had left Poets Lodge solely to her with the written intent for ‘her husband and family to enjoy’, which they did for decades more.

In her professional life, Kath was a travelling sales ambassador for Myer, at some other time she had her own television cooking show with GTV 9 Ballarat. Aged 95 in 2020, she still lives independently in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne.

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