NSW Federation Style Mansions,

and a few Grand Houses of Australia

There is no public list of grand houses, or 'mansions' in Australia. However the Australian Heritage Register lists a possible number of over 320 with heritage interest, and the National Trust has documented 75 of these in its publication 'Australian National Trusts - Historic Houses', also known as 'Historic Houses of Australia'


 

Characteristics of a Mansion

  • A mansion is a large dwelling house, the word comes from Old French and earlier Latin, together with the words 'Manor' and 'manse' (a property large enough for the parish priest to maintain himself) which come from the same root. -Wikipedia

  • A Mansion is generally a large house, or the plural, 'Mansions' refers only to an apartment block.

  • To be a mansion there should be at least six bedrooms, and probably eight bedrooms really is the norm.

  • Calling something a mansion indicates a level of grandeur, beauty, quality and consumption considerably greater than the norm in that location, indicating the housing of the very rich.

 

Mansions usually have specially designed rooms meant to accommodate leisure activities of a particular kind.

  • Federation mansions usually had a large billiards room, and earlier large homes had a ballroom as well.​

  • Many Victorian-era mansions have a conservatory or greenhouse, while modern mansions will have an infinity pool or a home theater.

  • At the beginning of the 20th century, no true Edwardian mansion would have been built without a room to house a private library or study, while at the beginning of the 21st century the presence of a room designed for a home theater or cinema is normal.

  • Large garages are now the norm, with space for 10 or more vehicles, usually in a secure underground building below a garden or a pool. -Wikipedia

 

Australian Mansions

Most mansions in the 19th century were built in the Victorian period and style

  • The early Tasmanian and Victorian farming successes, allowed the building of earlier Georgian style grand houses in those States.

 

Late Victorian or Boom Style (1870 – 1890)

  • was encouraged by the successful gold mining era of the 1870s, such as many magnificent houses in Bendigo and Ballarat, in Victoria.

Looking for a mansion?

  • Find some of these and newer houses in the Weekend Australian's magazine Mansions Australia.

Is a Mansion a Trophy Home?

 

Yes, although while a Trophy Home may be a luxury house, and be a desirable, highly priced residence, it may have only 3 or 4 bedrooms, so is not a mansion.

 
 

Babworth House, 1 Mount Adelaide Street, Darling Point

A grand Federation Arts and Crafts-style mansion

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Babworth House was built between 1912 and 1915 for Sir Samuel Hordern, a fourth generation member of the family that founded the Anthony Hordern stores. Sir Samuel was a well-known and influential member of Sydney society.

  • The grand 2-storey home was built in the Federation Arts and Crafts style and designed by architectural firm Morrow and De Putron.

  • The walls were originally finished in unpainted cement render with Art Nouveau decorations around openings and chimneys.

  • The living areas were paneled in English oak and Queensland maple. Plaster ceiling panels were decorated with Art Nouveau motifs.

  • The home originally had a total of 40 rooms including a grand ballroom, billiard room and 24 bedrooms. The total cost of the project was 30,000 to 40,000 pounds (about $3.2 ~ 4.3 million in today’s terms)

Read more:

Built in 1912-1915, Babworth House is a grand Federation Arts and Crafts-style mansion that was adapted to apartments. Built 1912-1915; Renovated 2002; 
Babworth House is an excellent example of the use of timber decoration in Federation style.
 

  • Described as “one of the largest, finest and most intact examples of an early twentieth century grand house in Australia.

  • It is of national significance both historically and aesthetically.

  • The quality and uniqueness of the exterior and interior detailing, incorporating both Art Nouveau and neoclassical motifs and forms is of a standard and scale rarely seen in domestic architecture.

  • The workmanship and detailing of the external cement render work is of national significance technically[1] .

 

Belltrees, Hunter Road, Scone, NSW

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In 1907 at the peak of the wool production era, H.L. White built the 52 room Belltrees Homestead.

  • The house was designed for the White family, one of New England's pastoral dynasties, by J W Pender, one of three generations of the family firm of Maitland architects who left such an impression on the New England built landscape.

  • It is heritage listed.

  • It is now the family home of Dr Judy White, author, historian, archivist and grandmother of 19 grandchildren.

  • The house features an imposing internal staircase and a cast-iron balcony verandah on both floors.

Seven generations of the White family have called Belltrees home since Merino-wool pioneer James White purchased the property on the banks of the Hunter River in 1853.

  • The 52-room Federation homestead was built in 1907 and parts of it are open to visitors. Group tours also take in the woolshed, chapel, school and post office, built to support the 60-plus workers who once lived on the farm.

  • “It’s a private village here,” says Serena White of the 9000-hectare property, an hour’s drive from the cellar doors of the Upper Hunter.
    “We have family living in nine homes on the property, while other cottages are used for lunches and B & B accommodation. My husband, Pete, and I have restored them all.”

The original Colonial homestead is now a museum containing cast-iron farm implements made by the property’s blacksmith, historic photos, crockery and domestic accoutrement from 160 years of life at Belltrees, which is still a working cattle farm.

Read more:

 

Booloominbah, UNE Armidale NSW

Booloominbah reflects the Gothic revivalist influences of the 'Queen Anne' style.


Booloominbah is of State heritage significance as one of the largest private country houses built in Australia during the 19th century and amongst the most avant-garde domestic Arts and Crafts style designs of the time.

  • Designed as an interpretation of an English country house, Booloominbah sits in a relatively intact landscape. As such, it is exemplary of the work of architect John Horbury Hunt.
     

  • As well as being large, it is also extravagant in decoration, in particular the use of stained glass. The fabric substantially demonstrates the wealth and influence of pastoralism in NSW in late 19th century.
     

  • Its gift by Thomas R. Forster was the catalyst for the establishment of the New England University College, the first in Australia to be located outside of a capital city.
     

  • The gift of such a substantial house demonstrates the historical circumstances of the White family's involvement, the impetus from the local church and community groups, and the 'new state' movement in establishing Armidale as a major educational centre in NSW.

On entering the house from the car park through the imposing archway of the entrance porch, you'll find yourself in the main hall. A striking feature of the hall is its fireplace, which is surmounted by a tall oak mantelpiece of 'Gothic' design.

The Gordon Window

  • Looking up, you'll see the unique Gordon window (pictured), which forms a dramatic backdrop to the main staircase winding up from the hall to the first-floor landing.

  • This large window, recognised as the most outstanding example of domestic stained glass in Australia, comprises seven scenes from the life of the Victorian hero General C.G. Gordon (known as 'Gordon of Khartoum') — from his entering the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, at the age of 15 to his death leading the defence of Khartoum in 1885.

  • There are many panels of stained glass in the windows of Booloominbah — more than in any other house designed by Hunt.

  • Portraits of Shakespeare and Sir Walter Scott adorn the windows of the library, the day nursery windows are alive with stained-glass illustrations from children's books, food-related images illuminate the dining room, and allegorical human figures and pictures of Australian animals and birds appear in windows throughout the house.

  • The glass for the Gordon window was made by leading craftsmen in London. All the other stained glass panels in Booloominbah were made in Sydney.

Read more:

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booloominbah-gordon-window.jpg
The Gordon Window khartoum
Booloominaba stained glass.jpg
 

Camelot, Kirkham Lane, Kirkham, Narellan

"Camelot" stands on the site of explorer John Oxley's Kirkham Mill
near Camden NSW.

The original grant was made in 1810 and extended in 1815.

 

It is constructed from brick and has a romantic silhouette of turrets, chimney stacks, gables, arched verandas and projecting bays.

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"Camelot" was reportedly built with the winnings from "Chester", a racehorse which won the Melbourne Cup in 1877, owned by James White.

  • The house was owned later on by the Faithfull-Anderson family.

  • Camelot also has a fine brick stable with arched wooden ribbing,
    a brick smokehouse and an octagonal aviary.
     

John Horbury Hunt designed Camelot for James White of Cranebrook in the late 1880's, built in 1888.

  • It is constructed from brick and has a romantic silhouette of turrets, chimney stacks, gables, arched verandas and projecting bays.

  • The original grant was made in 1810 and extended in 1815.

The house was owned later on by the Faithfull-Anderson family.

  • Upon her husband's death in 1912 Mrs. Frances Faithfull-Anderson paid for the erection of a memorial drinking fountain in the middle of the intersection of Argyle and John St, Camden.

    • The fountain was subsequently moved to Macarthur Park where it now rests.

    • A smaller matching memorial was erected at Camelot at the same time.

  • Today Camelot is being lovingly cared for and will possibly be open to the public on a limited basis in the future.


Building complex timeline:

  • Stables 1816 (Oxley)

  • Cottage 1881 (Horbury Hunt for James White) Race Horse breeder (plus Kirkham stables to north)

  • C1881 Stables & Smoke House (brick domed structure) (Horbury Hunt for White)

  • c 1881 Cottage (Horbury Hunt, 2 storey)

  • c1888 House/Mansion (Horbury Hunt for White)

  • c1900 Faithfull-Anderson family bought the property

Read more:

 

Caves House, Jenolan NSW

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Caves House is an icon of Blue Mountains accommodation. 

  • The Government Architect, Walter Liberty Vernon, designed the first wing of Caves House, built in 1897, which could then be reached by a new road through the Grand Arch.

  • The rambling, 4-storey hotel complex was designed in an ‘English Domestic Revival’ style, which was then being employed for the best hotels in Britain of the 1890s.

Caves House sits alongside Jenolan Caves, Australia’s most well-known limestone cave system and longest continually operating tourist attraction.

  • Caves House, along with all the buildings in the Jenolan Caves Karst Conservation Reserve, was added to the NSW State Heritage Register in 2004.

 

Considerable changes have been made to the buildings over the years, but today Caves House is rightly regarded as one of the finest large guest houses still functioning as tourist accommodation.

  • Vernon designed Caves House in an Arts & Crafts style to reflect the romantic and picturesque associations of the caves, describing it as a 'large comfortable hotel of the type best known in the tourist districts of England, Scotland, Ireland'.

    • He used the alpine, picturesque 'Federation, Arts and Crafts' style. This structure is part of the Jenolan Caves State Heritage Listing.

    • In 1907, a second wing, also designed by Vernon, was added to Caves House, with subsequent wings in 1914 and 1923, probably also designed by Vernon but supervised by George McCrae.

    • ​Moore describes it as having a craggy gabled facade and series of picturesque gablets, knobbly tile roof and deep recessed openings with multi-paned windows, giving the new building an instant air of old-age, charm and respectability.

 

In 1897 the Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens Joseph Henry Maiden, remodelled and terraced the slopes around Caves House, providing a setting of park-like gardens.​

"Caves House itself was designed to appeal to the sophisticated, financially comfortable element of society, the intellectual and the curious. 

  • For such clientele the building offered a range of handsome public spaces,

  • including the necessarily grand Dining Room, Billiards Room and Coffee Room,

  • while exhibiting a diversity of accommodation to suit the varying means (and needs) of the patrons”

 

In historic Caves House, every room is different - different shape, slightly different size, different view, different furnishings and colours.

  • Even window style, shapes and sizes vary from room to room.

  • Some rooms even have bay windows - but only some.

 

Within Caves House, there are 3 main types of guestrooms :

  • 'Traditional' - economical, with shared bathrooms, true to Vernon's original design

  • 'Classic', with Queen size bed and ensuite

  • 'Grand Classic' , with King Size bed and ensuite.

Read more:

 

Elwatan, 10 Wentworth Road, Vaucluse 

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  • This 1920s heritage home was restored in 2008, with close attention paid to the period details. The grand formal living and dining rooms retain their original features.

  • The seven-bedroom, five-bathroom Vaucluse home is split over three levels, with the property’s former stables converted to a self-contained apartment.
    • Entertain guests in the grand ballroom, where the arched windows offer views to Sydney Harbour Bridge, or relax on the rooftop terrace as you overlook the harbour.

12 December 2011 from Radical Terrace:

  • Around the same time Craig-y-mor (demolished) set a soon-to-be-trumped sale record of $32.4m in March 2008, Elwatan at 10 Wentworth Road in Vaucluse attained a princely sum of $12.35m. Now, without any property renovations, the home is back on the market and it looks like they’re asking $15m+.

  • Pros: The view, the view, the view; decent-sized parcel; some nice period detailing to work with

  • Cons: The bulk of the yard is on the non-view side of the house and the view side is rammed up against another house; although the home is on fancy Wentworth Road, it sits in a slightly less desirable precinct (closer to New South Head Road instead of Neilson Park); the house needs a complete overhaul to meet contemporary standards.

Read more:

 

‘Greenoaks Cottage’,
2E Greenoaks Ave, Darling Point, Sydney,

​​

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The word cottage is a bit of an understatement for this nine-bedroom, seven bathroom home in Sydney’s Darling Point.

  • Built around 1885 around an 1850's colonial cottage, by industrialist and benefactor Thomas Mort, the lavish property sits amid a beautiful established garden on a 1,307sqm block.
  • This heritage home suffered a fire in 1890,
  • endured an unsympathetic 20th century renovation to turn it into flats, but has
  • most recently been brought back to life
    • thanks to the creative talents of architect Tanya Hancock  
    • and owners Ann-Maree Kerry, a former Olympic gymnast,
    • and K2 Recruitment boss Phil Kerry.
  • With period details, ornate high ceilings and original stained-glass windows it "oozes old-world wonder" and is an early example of Queen Anne Revival style.

    • Each of the renovated five bedrooms has its own ensuite;

    • there’s a state-of-the-art kitchen with wolf and sub zero appliances;

    • bespoke French oak floors and four fireplaces.

    • There are original stained glass and sandstone features throughout the home.

​​

Above: Greenoaks Cottage, 2E Greenoaks Avenue, Darling Point, c1880

Above: Greenoaks Cottage in recent times

 

Iandra Station & Mt.Oriel Homestead, Greenethorpe NSW

Iandra Station and Mount Oriel Homestead, known as Iandra Castle, was established by George Henry Greene from 1878-1911 and is a rare example of a complete feudal style ‘English Manor’ estate.

  • The nearby village of Greenethorpe was built by Greene for his tenant farmers.
    • The house is situated 30 minutes drive from Cowra and is open to the public on certain days of the year or for coach parties by appointment.

 

Iandra Station and Mount Oriel Homestead, known as Iandra Castle, was established by George Henry Greene from 1878-1911 and is a rare example of a complete ‘English Manor’ style estate.

  • The Iandra Homestead Pastoral Estate, originally established by George Henry Greene from 1878-1911, is of outstanding significance as arguably the largest and most progressive wheat property and wheat farming enterprise of its time in Australia.

  • The vast estate of approximately 3,000 acres (1215 ha) comprises a magnificent Federation homestead, park-like gardens, original workers cottages, managers residence, blacksmith, chapel and cemetery, wool and hay sheds, silo, other outbuildings, associated structures, and surrounding farmland.

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In its scale, grandeur, planning, farmlands, gardens and collection of purpose-related buildings, the vast pastoral estate of Iandra provides valuable and rare evidence of the advancements, operation, prosperity and importance of wheat growing in Australia’s development during the early 1900s.

  • All elements of the estate date from the Federation period and were constructed for the Iandra homestead owner, centred around the Iandra homestead and wheat production, including the adjoining Greenethorpe village built by Greene for his tenants.

  • The integrity and condition of the complex as a whole is exceptionally high, which can be largely attributed to its faithful restoration by David Morris from the 1970s.​​

 

Leura, 24 Victoria Road, Bellevue Hill. NSW 

Bellevue Hill trophy home Leura sets suburb record at $30 million

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The Bellevue Hill trophy residence Leura sold on Monday afternoon 10-Nov-2015 for more than $30 million, setting a suburb record in the process.

  • The sale by businessman Ken Allen and his wife, Christine, to an Australian buyer came the day before it was scheduled to go to auction, and for in excess of its original $30 million guide.

  • Built in the 1890s for Tom Knox, managing director of the Dalgety stock and station agency, in the Federation Queen Anne style and set on a vast 4260 square metres, the mansion includes eight bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a ballroom, tennis court and a swimming pool.

Built in 1891 for Mr Tom Knox, brother of Edward William Knox, adjoining 'Rona' and probably by the same architect, G A Morrell.[1]

  • Of Federation Queen Anne style, the house was gutted by fire in January, 1909 and the wooden shingle roof replaced by terracotta shingles.

  • In 1956, the house was purchased by Cranbrook School serving as 'Street House' for boarders named after the then President of the School Council, Sir Kenneth Street

  • Leura has since returned to the private sector. The site was once an Aboriginal camp alongside a natural spring.[2]

  • Sales listing

 

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​A large and unusual Federation mansion of considerable architectural interest which contributes greatly to the character of the area.

  • The house is a local landmark, in original condition and retains its original curtilage

  • Lynton is one of the district's most admired true Federation mansions enjoying a commanding elevated position,

  • and set on a sweeping 90x 225ft or 2134m² landscaped grounds with two street frontage.

  • High ornate ceilings, superb marble fire places, undercover outdoor entertaining area, sparkling in-ground pool, triple car garage plus ample visitor parking.

  • 6 spacious bedrooms,

  • magnificent formal and informal living areas,

  • massive family room,

  • stunning marble kitchen with huge pantry,

  • study, five bathrooms,

  • separate in-law accommodation.

 

Read more:

 

Milton Park Country House Hotel
Horderns Road, Bowral, NSW 2576

"Considered by many to be the greatest garden in Australia"

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Set apart in its own secluded hilltop woodland estate of more than 300 acres just east of Bowral in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Milton Park Country House Hotel & Spa is now a five star hotel.

  • Milton Park Country House Hotel has a grand history. Originally known as Mansfield Farm, it was purchased by Sydney retailer, grazier and stock breeder, Anthony Hordern, in 1910. The adjoining 5000-hectare Retford Park was owned by his father, Sam Hordern.

  • The heart of the hotel is the mansion, designed by Morrow and de Putron. It demonstrates Federation arts and crafts and has rendered and shingled walls, hipped and gabled roofs, tall chimneys and Art Nouveau detailing.

Milton Park was built in 1911 by Anthony Horden (1889-1970) and named after the town of Milton on the south coast which was founded by his maternal grandfather, John Booth.

  • The architects were Morrow & De Putron of Sydney.

  • The mansion was the focus of entertainment for many members of the Sydney "social set" of the time.

  • After the death of Anthony Hordern III's first wife, Viola, in 1929 and following his marriage in 1932 to Ursula Mary Bullmore, changes were made to the house as well as the gardens.

  • From 1960-1976 Milton Park was owned by King Ranch (Aust) P/L but Mr P Baillieu and his wife Edwina, a daughter of the Horderns lived there. From 1977 until 1984 the Baillieus remained at Milton Park.

  • In 1984 the property was sold and the then new owners, Drs Ron White and John Cooper initiated a program to establish the house as the cone of a country house hotel resort.

A picturesque Federation bungalow with European influences and Art Nouveau detailing. The deep verandahs have marble floors and steps, the walls are grey cement render. The roofs have big hips with an unusual octagonal tower.

  • Modifications and dates: The mansion's original "Tudoresque" external embellishment was replaced with the more fashionable shingle treatment seen today about 20 years after it was completed.

  • The addition of a family room on the eastern side (c1960's) to main house.

  • New accommodation wings (1980's), designed by the architectural firm Phillip Cox and Partners, were added for Hotel guest Suites.

 

Mount Wilga House 2A Manor Road
(Rosamond Street), Hornsby, NSW

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Mount Wilga House 2A Manor Road (Rosamond Street), Hornsby, NSW, is a Federation mansion and garden prominently sited in large grounds on the apex of a long ridge with commanding views
of the surrounding countryside, including across the valley to 'neighbouring' mansion Mount Errington.
 

Above: Mount Wilga House 2A Manor Road (Rosamond Street), Hornsby, NSW


An Outstanding late Federation Queen Anne Style mansion.

  • Impressive multi-level roof with highly decorated gables.

  • Unusual verandah detailing.

  • Generally in good condition. Many interior features of note.

  • Owned by Marcus Clark leading Sydney retailer of the time. (LEP).

  • Grounds: Remnant garden layout surrounding notable mansion. Mature period trees dated from Federation period. Of regional significance. (LEP).
     

Construction

A Federation mansion constructed over the years 1913-1914, with face brick walls, complex steep pitched terracotta tiled roof, tall roughcast chimneys, shingled and half-timbered gables, sandstone veranda piers with simple scalloped timber valences. Unusual cylindrical polished granite colonettes support the timber verandah posts

 

Above: Mount Wilga House 2A Manor Road (Rosamond Street), Hornsby, NSW

 

Saumarez Homestead, 
230 Saumarez Road Armidale NSW

Below: National Trust owned: Saumarez homestead

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Saumarez is an extensive pastoral property containing an almost full range of rural building types from humble timber slab vernacular structures to the opulent Victorian House

  • Ten hectare grazing property with a 30 room Edwardian mansion, gardens and 15 other farm and other buildings. Mansion has its original furnishings, some 6500 house collection items, a futher 3500 or so farm collection items.​

  • The structure is a large two-storey brick residence.

  • The elevations are a symmetrical. There are gabled projections on the north- east and west elevations with two storied verandahs between.

  • The house consists of two sections; a family accommodation wing to the north and a service wing to the south. The latter is built around a courtyard. The family wing contains on the ground floor two large rooms-drawing room and dining room and five smaller rooms used as an office, bedrooms and sitting rooms. It also contains a wash room and bathroom.

    Saumarez homestead, Uralla

  • These front rooms open onto a central hall, while the back rooms open onto a crosshall. An elaborate Edwardian staircase opposite bedroom leads to the first floor.

  • The first floor plan largely reflects the floor below and contains eight bedrooms, bathroom, a separate lavatory, a linen room and en suite off the main bedroom. On the southern side of the house is the two- storey service wing containing pantry, kitchen, scullery, laundry, and staff dining room and boot room on the ground floor.

  • On the first floor is the present caretaker's accommodation consisting of two bedrooms, sitting room, bathroom, a small kitchen and verandah. Under the pantry and servants stair is a cellar with exterior access.

  • On the east side of the central service courtyard is a single storey wing containing a store and small kitchen.

 

Below: Drawing Room of Saumarez

 

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Sundorne 23 Victoria Road Bellevue Hill, NSW

Cranbrook School sells Bellevue Hill house Sundorne for $18 million to developer Eduard Litver 

LUCY MACKEN NOV 23, 2017

Cranbrook School has sold the 1920s Bellevue Hill trophy home Sundorne for more than $18 million.

  • The 2549-square-metre estate across the road from the exclusive private school was bought by wealthy eastern suburbs property developer Eduard Litver.

  • The English Manor-style residence was sold to the school under the hammer in 2013 for $15.5 million by the estate of the late arts philanthropist Claire Dan to be part of the school’s expansion plans.

  • Cranbrook School has sold the 1920s Sundorne mansion for more than $18 million. Photo: Supplied

However, those plans were abandoned earlier this year and it was returned to the market in September with a guide of $18 million-plus.​