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Article: The Story of How Cruickston Park Came Back to Life

The Story of How Cruickston Park Came Back to Life
Restoration

The Story of How Cruickston Park Came Back to Life

As soon as your car passes through the gates of Cruickston Park it feels like you’ve entered a place of timelessness that is accompanied by a distinct sense of calm.  The built heritage at Cruickston spans over two hundred and thirty two years so that means there are a lot of visual triggers that mark its long life. Noticing them depends on one’s own

The Chaplins are the property’s stewards and hold the original relics and chattels which include a series of 35 x 8mm film footage of it from the 1920’s.  Although there is no sound or colour in these films the property still looks as it did then.  Watching them gives a profound appreciation that 100 years is really not a very long time in the scheme of things. Literally, a generation or two is insignificant in terms of time, or the lifespan of a tree for that matter.

When we were first introduced to the property in 1995 it was severely run down and abandoned.  The manor had been boarded up for five years.  It was cold, dark and damp.  The long brick horse barn was crumbling and the bank barn had deteriorated so much the university tore it down.   There was a certain lifelessness about the place. A sadness. It was apparent that this phase of deterioration started  in 1973, the year Mr. Wilks Keefer died.  He clearly did not anticipate his wife outliving him another 20 years

Still there was a magnificence about it which filled us with questions.  When we discovered the trustees overseeing the property were contemplating tearing down the manor we reacted. It’s not that the university held the wrong view.  From their perspective Cruickston Park at that time was so deteriorated and remote it represented a considerable cost without sufficient purpose to justify

From our perspective, we were completely enchanted by the property as though it was calling to us. We didnt waste anytime and wrote our Letter of Intention which simply stated we would honour the intentions of the Wilks family by loving and nurturing the property. We werent alone in our interest, but somehow our simple letter was accelerated to the front of the que.  From the time we received official acceptance by the Board of Trustees, it has taken almost 30 years to not only restore Cruickston Park, but to breathe life into it commensurate with 1973.

It’s been a process of discovery which unfolded as we delved ever deeper in actioning our commitment.  It’s as though the property became our teacher and revealed its wisdom step-by-step, as we were ready to receive it. To love someone or even something is to connect to it. By doing so we make it come alive, and we enliven ourselves in the process. We continue to find expression to love and nurture this property and, in turn, it continues to love and nurture us back multiple times over.  Our inspiration is to share our space, experience, and the property’s wisdom so others are inspired to do the same.