|Historical notes: ||The Revd Joshua Hargrave was a well-to-do retired Anglican minister, born in 1850, the son of a New England grazier, Richard Hargrave and his wife Mary Williams, whose father had been a member of the first elected government of New South Wales. (Cable) Richard Hargrave and his brother John, a foundation judge of the New South Wales District Court, had been born in London, the children of a prosperous hardware merchant and had come to Australia in the 1840s and 1857 respectively. Joshua Hargrave was born in Australia and baptised at Armidale, in the same year, 1850, as his cousin, Lawrence, the pioneer of aviation in Australia, was born to John Hargrave in London.(ADB, IV 345-6; IX 196-8)
Joshua was educated at Macquarie Fields, the distinguished boarding school in Sydney, from 1855 until 1866, when he joined the major commercial firm in the city founded by John Frazer, soon becoming a partner. Frazer himself was a prominent Presbyterian churchman and philanthropist, who on his death in 1884 left a substantial bequest to build a Presbyterian church in the Blue Mountains, at Springwood, near his country retreat of Silva Plana. Frazer and his friend Sir James Fairfax were powerful examples to the young Hargrave. (Men of Mark, I 72-5; Maddock, 2-3; SMH, 7 December 1932)
When he was twenty-five, Joshua Hargrave turned seriously to religion, became a lay reader at the Anglican church of St John at Parramatta and studied for the ministry at Moore College. In 1876 he was ordained as deacon by Bishop Barker, a lasting influence on his intellectual development, and in 1877 became a priest, starting his parochial career in Nowra at another St John's. The central period in Hargrave's ministry came when he returned to Sydney first as locum in 1880 and then as rector from 1882 until 1899 at St David's, Surry Hills. (Cable)
Throughout his career Hargrave showed a selfless dedication to the disadvantaged in society. His Surry Hills parish was poor. For sixty years up to his death in 1932 he was a trustee for the Sydney Ragged Schools and was consistently interested in the welfare and the material culture of Aboriginal people, both in the city and in his native New England. (SMH 8 December 1932; Neyle)
He was also much in demand as a church organiser. From 1880 until 1907 he was secretary of the Church Building Fund, in 1898-9 and again in 1908-9 secretary of the Board of Missions, from 1899 to 1901 full-time secretary of the Church Society and from 1909 to 1911 organising secretary of the Clergy Provident Society. (Cable) After he left his position with the Church Society in 1901, he returned to a poor parish as rector of St Silas, Waterloo, but in 1907, at the age of fifty-seven, he retired from parochial life, probably as the result of his wife's ill-health.
Joshua had in 1872 married a young widow, Marion Calver, who had three children. Joshua and Marion had four more and the Calver and Hargrave children grew up as a unitary family, although not all the Calver children survived to maturity. Marion had a heart problem and, as with so many others, a mountain retreat seemed appropriate to assist her. Her husband knew Frazer’s Silva Plana at Springwood and was doubtless aware of the retreats built by his fellow Anglican ministers, such as Archdeacon Boyce at Blackheath and Charles Baber at Katoomba. The idea of retiring to the mountains was not at all unfamiliar. It is not known whether Hargrave had already bought land in Blaxland before his retirement in 1907, but on balance it seems likely that he only began to settle there after 1907.
The Hargrave estate embraced much of portion 21 in Strathdon parish, extending along Hope Street and down the whole of View Street into the bush. At this time Blaxland consisted of only a handful of houses, with a scattered population in the area totalling 88 in the 1911 census. The village does not appear at all in Sand's country directories until 1920 (Sands 1920, 39A). Hargrave built a large house for himself, called Meriden Hall, on what is now 11 Hope Street, and kept extending it eastwards. To supply separate accommodation for guests, he then built Nardi, a weatherboard cottage, to the west of Meriden Hall. (Neyle) Nardi does not appear on the rate records until after 1919, when the Hargrave land had been divided into a series of separate titles, but because of the nature of the estate the guest cottage may simply have remained unnoticed at first. (Low, 28 February 2002) The tennis court to the south of Nardi was built by one of the Calver family in the 1930s, after Hargrave’s death, with the help of friends from the Nobel explosives factory in Sydney who blasted the site. (Neyle)
Hargrave also built a separate study-museum building for his own personal use. He had a keen interest in anthropology and archaeology. In 1887 and 1904 he had spent time in the middle east as a member of the Palestine Exploration Society and brought back to Australia a number of artefacts from the Holy Land and Egypt. (SMH, 7 December 1932; Neyle) His interest in Aboriginal culture had prompted him also to collect spears and tools from the Armidale district, around his father's property at Hillgrove. (R. Calver) These various aspects of his intellectual interests, including curios such as a French bayonet of 1870 (E.H. Calver), more characteristic of clergymen in England than rectors in Australia, were displayed in his study-museum, called The Den. This building survives and is now 18 View Street: it had, to judge from the fabric, started as a small cottage with a large external west chimney, but was extended eastwards by Hargrave and had taken its present long rectangular form by the end of World War I. (R. Calver) The Den was partly built by Hargrave himself: family tradition recounts how his wife, Marian, had to stop him laying bricks directly on top of each other instead in any known bond, so that the building had some hope of staying up. (Quodling)
For his extended family and step-family, Hargrave built houses along Hope Street. At 1 Hope Street, his son Oswald helped to construct the surviving weatherboard, while at 7 Hope Street a house called Darrah had been built by 1919 for Marion Calver (Mrs Davey) and at the south end of 9 Hope Street there was a cottage called Orvieto, the same size as The Den, owned by Robert Calver, who used it as a country retreat. (Low, 28 February 2002).
There was no church in Blaxland, so in 1913 Hargrave built a small weatherboard chapel, for family worship, dedicated to St David, alluding to his Surry Hills parish. From 1916 onwards he made the chapel available to the rector of Springwood for regular public services. In 1928 this chapel in Short Street was bodily transferred by a bullock team to a new site on Taringha Street as the parish church of St David, on the site where the present church was built after Hargrave's building was destroyed in the 1968 bushfire. (Lambert, 16-17)
Hargrave was clearly much loved in Surry Hills and in recognition of the devotion of members of his congregation, he built Tanfield at 23 Hope Street as a home for Miss Smith and Miss Brown, two elderly ladies without means. (King) He is said also to have built cottages in Station Street for other former Surry Hills parishioners, but these, unlike 23 Hope Street, were destroyed in the 1968 fire. (Neyle)
Hargrave's wife died in 1923, but he lived on in Blaxland until 1932 when he died, aged 82, in a private hospital in Randwick and was buried in Waverley cemetery. He had had a quietly productive career in the Anglican church, never seeking promotion to rural dean or archdeacon en route to the bishopric which his qualities, social connections and administrative abilities might have suggested.
His landed property in Blaxland had already been partly reapportioned among the next generation of Hargraves and Calvers and the remainder was inherited by them. The Den, still containing his museum collection, was vandalised and partly robbed in the 1940s,while the principal house, Meriden Hall, at 11 Hope Street and the cottage Orvieto at 9 Hope Street, were burnt down in the 1968 bushfires, along with his church. Some of the artefacts remain in the Calver family and the church bell, which was saved, is still in use at the third St David's.
The Hargrave estate has since World War II been further subdivided and many infill houses have been erected along View Street and Hope Street. A SEPP 5 Development Approval was given in 2003 by the Land and Environment Court to build 15 villas on the corner of Hope Street and View Street, including 1 Hope Street. A corollary of the decision is sanction to move the Hargrave house at 1 Hope Street to a new location on the same block.