It might be Adelaide’s most frightening home, but this 160-year-old mansion has a rich history that is connected with First Fleet of South Australia and the tragic death of an infant at sea.
On the outside, it’s a beautiful bluestone mansion, well-placed in Adelaide’s leafy eastern suburbs. But the interior looks more like the set of a horror movie.
“Scaredy cats” aren’t welcome at the property, with agent Anthony Toop asking people to “leave the kids at home”.
“Everything needs work but what a property, what incredible grounds spread over two titles. Watch the cobwebs, and don’t wear a suit,” he writes in the property’s advertisement.
“Brave people only, leave the kids at home or keep them supervised. Watch the steps.”
It might sound like a bit of fun, but this is no gimmick.
For 53-year-old Brad Pannell, this 10-room state heritage-listed house, which even has a small chapel with ruby-red glass that has been turned into a bathroom, is a cherished piece of his childhood.
Mr Pannell’s 76-year-old mother Beverley is moving into an aged care home and is making the painful choice to part ways with her beloved mansion.
“It’s got a lot of personal history,” Mr Pannell said.
“I’ve got two sisters and a brother, and we all lived there … so, there’s a lot of sentimental value with the house.”
Built in the 1850s, the unrenovated Woodforde House in Melory Crescent, Magill, in Adelaide’s east, has some questionable interior design choices, complete with spine-shivering dolls, spiders hanging from the ceiling and bright-red wallpaper.
The Pannell family bought the house in 1977 – and they’re only the second family to own the property.
But the history isn’t just personal for the Pannells.
William Henry Uren, with his family of seven, travelled to South Australia from Cornwall, England on board the William Money in 1847.
Their family was tragically reduced to six when infant Alfred died and was buried at sea.
The trip to Adelaide was marred with death as several people perished on board, including one by poisoning. An inquiry was held into the death, but it was mysteriously dismissed as accidental.
Eight years later, William Uren built Woodforde House after buying a 20-hectare plot of land from Captain John Finlay Duff, who was famous for captaining the Africaine as part of the First Fleet of South Australia in 1836.
From the second-storey viewing deck, Mr Uren would often watch ships arrive at Port Adelaide, carrying leather goods, which he imported for his Rundle Street footwear business.
He died at the age of 72 in 1889 and the house was passed to his only son, Joseph Mortimer Uren.
Eventually, it was then inherited by his daughter Gertrude, who eventually married William Allen Nightingale in 1911. It remained in the Nightingale-Uren family until the Pannells purchased it in 1977.
Beverley Pannell, the current owner, was a keen papier-mache hobbyist, while her late husband Brian enjoyed antique-dealing.
“The owner of the home has got a lot of character,” Mr Toop said.
Brad Pannell said his mother used to make papier-mâché items for the whole neighbourhood whenever there was a kids’ birthday party.
“I remember as a kid, we would have a really big massive party,” he said.
“With four kids, instead of having four separate birthday parties, we would have one big combined birthday party in the middle of the year.
“The house was brilliant for kids to grow up in.”
For Mr Pannell, his favourite part about living at Woodforde House was summers spent in the property’s big pool.
The house will go under the hammer on September 25.
Agent Anthony Toop decided to take an up-front approach when advertising the home, saying he didn’t want people to be shocked when they went for an inspection.
“She’s quite an elderly lady, so it was just a lot simpler to run with it as is, because the place needs renovating, but it is magnificent.”
Mr Toop said they have four agents at each open to make sure no one feels uncomfortable when exploring the rather spooky rooms.