Third Government Farm (former) | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Third Government Farm (former)

Item details

Name of item: Third Government Farm (former)
Other name/s: Castle Hill Heritage Park; Castle Hill Settlement Site; Old Government Farm Site; Castle Hill Convict Farm; Castle Hill Historic Site
Type of item: Landscape
Group/Collection: Landscape - Cultural
Category: Other - Landscape - Cultural
Location: Lat: -33.7177264816 Long: 151.0130634590
Primary address: Gilbert Road, Castle Hill, NSW 2154
Parish: Castle Hill
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: The Hills
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Deerubbin
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT5 DP231945
LOTB DP347907
LOT1 DP393287
LOTD DP393287
LOTE DP393287
LOTY DP400056
LOT1 DP556680
LOT2 DP556680
LOT167 DP752020
LOT1 DP85614
LOT1021 DP861081
LOT1026 DP861081
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Gilbert RoadCastle HillThe HillsCastle HillCumberlandPrimary Address
Banks RoadCastle HillThe HillsCastle HillCumberlandAlternate Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
The Hills Shire CouncilLocal Government 

Statement of significance:

Castle Hill Heritage Park is important in the course or pattern of the state's history for its close connection with the events leading up to the Battle of Vinegar Hill in 1804 (also comprising an important event in the Irish nationalist movements of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries). The historical importance of the site is enhanced by its place in the westward expansion of the early colony, using convict labour, when sometimes faltering and often unsuccessful attempts were made at the introduction and development of agriculture in previously unsettled and only recently explored areas. Later uses of the site as the nation's first dedicated mental health facility (the 'Asylum Phase') (1811-1828) enhances the site's historical significance. The site's conversion to use for a church and school (1828-1866) and then adaptation for orcharding (1870-1930) are also important historical 'layers', principally at the local level.

Castle Hill Heritage Park is Exceptionally significant at the state level for its strong associations with the rebels who participated in the Battle of Vinegar Hill in 1804 and, more generally, with the early convict labourers and Irish of the colony. The site's later associations with the first mental health patients of the nation, and with the prominent colonial polymath Rev WB Clarke, are also significant at the state level. Associations between the site and the local community from 1828 into the late twentieth century (when it functioned as the district Church and then orchards) are also significant, although principally at the local level.

Castle Hill Heritage Park recalls in its topography, land forms and remnant structures the original layout and form of the Third Government Farm. As a result, it reflects the nineteenth century cultural landscape and demonstrates, at a state level of significance, the principal characteristics of the rural aesthetic of the period.

The orcharding phase of the site may be of social significance to those members of the community that are descendants of the earlier orchardists of the area. Further, the school and church were for many years focal points for the community after the closure of the barrcks and asylum.

The archaeological relics identified at Castle Hill, and other relics potentially on the site but not yet exposed, hold considerable potential to contribute to substantive research questions relating to important trends in the state's (and nation's) history, including the treatment of the convicts and mental health patients incarcerated at the site, the circumstances precipitating the Battle of Vinegar Hill, early attempts at agriculture west of Sydney, and (at the local level) the settlement and later development of the area around Castle Hill.

The site represents an uncommon aspect of the state's (and nation's) history, in that it is one of only two places in the country where armed rebellion was planned and commenced. Similarly, it was the first Lunatic Asylum in the colony, and rare to that extent, although later examples also existed. The cultural landscape at the site also comprises an uncommon example of a relatively unchanged (in terms of topography and later development) convict farm site.

Castle Hill Heritage Park is important at the State level as a representative example of a relatively unchaged (in terms of topography and later development) convict farm site. Its remnant cultural landscape is a good example of the nineteenth century convict farm settlement. (Castle Hill Heritage Park Conservation Management Plan Godden Mackay Logan July 2007)
Date significance updated: 27 Oct 08
Note: There are incomplete details for a number of items listed in NSW. The Heritage Division intends to develop or upgrade statements of significance and other information for these items as resources become available.

Description

Construction years: 1801-
Physical description: Built Heritage / Archaeology
There are no historic buildings on this site. However, the site contains a number of known and potential archaeological sites. Most significant of these is the site of the former barracks and associated kitchen, excavated in 2006, which survive today as sandstone wall footings.


Vegetation
The existing native vegetation on the site is all post-1816 re-growth. The date at which this process began could not be determined with accuracy. Aerial photographs demonstrate that by 1943, native timbers had regenerated along the main gully lines. The area under timber spread from the gullies, primarily in the period after 1961.

There is no evidence to indicate that any of the trees on the site pre-date European settlement. Most are likely to post-date c1900.

The primary element in these areas of re-growth is the Sydney Blue gum (Eucalyptus saligna). This appears to be the species designated simply as 'gum' in the surveys of 1803 and 1816. These surveys did, however recognise a number of other species, and these were sufficiently uncommon for them to be used as reference points in the survey. The list includes the following:
*'Blackbutt' Eucalyptus pilularis.
*'Apple' Angophora sp. (probably A. floribunda).
*'Oak' Allocasuarina torulosa.
*'Ironbark' Eucalyptus fibrosa.
*'Bloodwood' Corymbia eximia.

Of these species, Angophora floribunda has been recognised in the gully immediately north of Banks Road. It is unclear if other species on the list are currently present.

Government Farm Phase
The heavily timbered pre-European landscape was modified during the initial phase of development of the site as a Government farm by a process of clear-felling and burning. The process commenced on the site and radiated from this core area as more land was required for grazing stock and for raising crops.

All trees and scrub on the site, except for a single stand of trees located to the east of the barracks, were removed. The forest was also left intact beyond the line of the ridge to the north and northeast of the site.

The areas thus opened up within the site were used primarily for running stock; however, there were a number of distinct zones.
*A low ridge located on the southern margin of the site was occupied by the principal buildings.
*The flat area located immediately north of Banks Road (site of the bell) may have been used as an assembly/ muster point during the normal operation of the site and during the uprising in 1804.
*A barnyard on the western side of the creek.
*The superintendent's garden.

Asylum and Church Phases
Two main zones were present during these phases
*The yard and garden associated with the asylum surgeon's residence / later school yard and
*The area occupied by the main asylum buildings/later church.
The remaining areas of the site appear to have been unused or given over to stock grazing.

Orcharding Phase
During the later orcharding phase most of the southwest corner of the site was put to use for fruit growing. Most of the landscape modification during the orcharding period was undertaken in the post-1900 period and is related to changes in the agricultural use of the site and subdivision.

The most significant landscape element of the Orcharding Phase that remains clearly visible on the site today is the remains of the quarter-mile long dog racing course on the western boundary of the site. In addition, a domed brick cistern, associated with a mid-twentieth century domestic occupation, remains in the northeast quadrant of the park. The remaining areas of the site were used for grazing with regrowth of native timbers being allowed to take place in the gullies.

Topography and Waterways
The site is characterised by four main topographic zones
*The upper ridge slopes in the north and east;
*The lower moderate slopes with a grade of <1:10;
*The flat adjacent to Banks Road; and
*The central gully/creek line containing areas of outcropping sandstone.

These have remained largely unchanged since European settlement apart from the sculpting of part of the upper ridge slope south of Gilbert Road for the installation of a dam and the reworking of the western margin of the site for a dog course. The 1960s saw substantial landform modification to level an area for the installation of chicken sheds adjacent to the convict barracks site. This modification removed the northern two-thirds of the barracks remains.

The small flat enclosed by a ridge with moderate foot slopes, and a series of creeks and gullies and reasonably fertile soils, may have contributed to the original selection of this place for a Government Farm, and the small chain of ponds shown in the 1803 watercolour may have been the original water source for the inhabitants of the Farm. These elements in their current configuration are important elements in understanding the reasons for the original establishment of the farm. The enclosing ridge lined with forest during the early phase of the Government Farm marked the limit of expansion of European settlement as well as providing a psychological barrier confining those sent to work here. The ridge to the north and east that provides such an important backdrop to the site throughout its various phases of development is the 'Castle Hill', from which the wider suburb derives its name. (Castle Hill Heritage Park CMP Godden Mackay Logan 2007)
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
No buildings remain, foundations may remain below present ground level.
(Register of the National Estate Database)

History

Historical notes: Castle Hill Heritage Park is significant principally for its association with the participants in the Battle of Vinegar Hill.

The Battle of Vinegar Hill holds a seminal, but only relatively recently recognised, place in Australian ethnic, religious and political history. The Battle of Vinegar Hill is the only recorded armed battle between Europeans in Australia, other than the Eureka Stockade, although there were bigger battles between Europeans and Aborigines up until the 1930s. The Battle of Vinegar Hill involved approximately 300 mainly Irish insurgents, most of whom had been transported for sedition, political activism and uprisings in Ireland, and of whom 15 were shot, nine hanged, nine flogged (200-500 lashes each), and 50 sent in chains to Coal River (later renamed Newcastle) for their part in the uprising. The insurgents battled with the soldiers of the New South Wales Corp and the militia.

The reasons for the uprising remain unclear. 'Death or Liberty' was the catchphrase used by the insurgents during the Rebellion and the popular view has been that the uprising was a bid for freedom in response to cruel punishments and food shortages. This, however, is perhaps too narrow and simplistic a view given the demographics of the convict population. It is likely that the uprising was a largely political act of organised revolution by the largely Irish National convict population who did not recognise English authority in Ireland, and had been transported for their involvement in political uprisings in the Old Country. The view that to the Irish Defenders and the Society of the United Irishmen, all English authority was illegitimate, unjust and their natural state was to resist it, both at home and in the colonies, is a plausible, wider view of events.

It is still not certain why the uprising took place. There are few official and public records on this point dating to the Rebellion, due to age and circumstance and probably because of the potential embarrassment to Governor King whose policy to concentrate Irish political prisoners in a single remote location could have been seen by London and the Colonial Secretary as naive (which it almost certainly was). Those participants who were not executed as a deterrent were separated and dispersed after the Rebellion to ensure such group action was unlikely ever to again occur. Their story has never been adequately told.

It is fascinating, however, that such an important episode in Colonial history has gone largely unrecognised and un-commemorated for so long. This may relate to political and religious trends in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. (Godden
Mackay Logan 2007)

Summary Timeline of Important events on the site

1801 - Work commenced on the Third Government farm, with the soil being described as the 'best and most productive kind'.
1801/2 - The bridges, long hut (100 feet by 20 feet) and watering place were referred to in a surveyors field book.
1802 (Oct) - Francis Peron described Castle Hill as an 'infant town' consisting of 'a dozen houses' with 'cultivated land' and 'several handsome farms'
1803 - A watercolour indicated that the Government Farm area was substantially cleared with 1718 structures, tracks and associated areas under tillage (see Figure 2.1). Importantly, the image shows the 'long hut' with adjacent store house and mill house.
1803 (June 30) - Governor King reported that he was constructing a stone barrack at Castle Hill of two storeys and 100 feet by 24 feet.
1803 (August) - The Barracks was still under construction
1804 (4th March) - Vinegar Hill uprising occurred, with a 'house' set alight on the Government Farm.
1806 (August) - Barracks building was possibly converted into barn.
1807 (August) - Repairs to a number of buildings occurred, as well as the granary and barn reported finished.
1811 (April) - Macquarie. instructed the farm be converted into an asylum and a garden fenced at
rear of granary for exercise of inmates, with the building to accommodate 30 persons.
1811 (June) - Conversion reported complete.
1814 - Buildings reported in bad condition by Surgeon Bland.
1817 - Buildings reported in good condition (with a few repairs needed), with mention of a kitchen (separate?) and the need for partitions in the upper storey to create an internal configuration of two wards and a store room.
1819 (March) - Building reported as upstairs female ward and need for partition to separate male inmates upstairs as well, store recommended. Roof and walls unplastered with damp conditions.
1821 - Commissioner Bigge recommended the closure of the asylum.
1826 - Asylum closed and inmates moved to Liverpool Courthouse.
1826 (November) - The former asylum was converted into a church requiring a replacement roof, shingling, ladder and rail, replacement of floors, partitioning, door furniture, window repairs and glazing, clean verandah beams and new posts, whitewashing and plastering of two rooms 60 fee by 18 feet and one 45 feet by 18 feet.
1828 - Former asylum land formally conveyed to Church and Schools Corporation.
1832 (May 2-5) - Former asylum surveyed by Felton Mathew showing school, bridge, former asylum building and ruins (kitchen?).
1832 (September) - Building reported as in dilapidated condition.
1837 (November) - HL Butler resurveyed the land and set aside 40 acres as a glebe.
1839 (September) - Building reported as being converted into a chapel to be called St Simon's.
c1886 - The old asylum building was demolished, with stone reportedly transported to construct the rectory for St Paul's on the corner of Parsonage Road and Old Northern Road.
1895 - First part of the 40 acre glebe sold to orchardist JT Benn.
1900 - The remainder was sold to James Purser.
1930s- Orcharding declined and site was given over to pasturage during later 1930s and 40s.
Between 1947 and 1961- a large mushroom shed was constructed to the northeast of the Barracks site with a vehicular entrance to the east of the site along the right of way.
By 1961- A small fibro cottage with brick piers was constructed on the Barracks site.
1966 - The dwarf wall at the rear of the cottage allotment along the right-of-way was constructed
possibly of sandstone stone from the barracks site at the same time and in a similar fashion to the stone wall at the Parsonage. (Godden Mackay Logan 2007)

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Convict-Activities relating to incarceration, transport, reform, accommodation and working during the convict period in NSW (1788-1850) - does not include activities associated with the conviction of persons in NSW that are unrelated to the imperial 'convict system': use the theme of Law & Order for such activities Housing convicts in communal or shared accommodation-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Clearing land for farming-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Pastoralism-Activities associated with the breeding, raising, processing and distribution of livestock for human use (none)-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Developing roles for government - facilitating agriculture-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Castle Hill Heritage Park is important in the course or pattern of the state's history for its close connection with the events leading up to the Battle of Vinegar Hill in 1804 (also comprising an important event in the Irish nationalist movements of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries). The historical importance of the site is enhanced by its place in the westward expansion of the early colony, using convict labour, when sometimes faltering and often unsuccessful attempts were made at the introduction and development of agriculture in previously unsettled and only recently explored areas. Later uses of the site as the nation's first dedicated mental health facility (the 'Asylum Phase') (1811-1828) enhances the site's historical significance. The site's conversion to use for a church and school (1828-1866) and then adaptation for orcharding (1870-1930) are also important historical 'layers', principally at the local level.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Castle Hill Heritage Park is Exceptionally significant at the state level for its strong associations with the rebels who participated in the Battle of Vinegar Hill in 1804 and, more generally, with the early convict labourers and Irish of the colony. The site’s later associations with the first mental health patients of the nation, and with the prominent colonial polymath Rev WB Clarke, are also significant at the state level. Associations between the site and the local community from 1828 into the late twentieth century (when it functioned as the district Church and then orchards) are also significant, although principally at the local level.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Castle Hill Heritage Park recalls in its topography, land forms and remnant structures the original layout and form of the Third Government Farm. As a result, it reflects the nineteenth century cultural landscape and demonstrates, at a state level of significance, the principal characteristics of the rural aesthetic of the period.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The orcharding phase of the site may be of social significance to those members of the community that are descendants of the earlier orchardists of the area. Further, the school and church were for many years focal points for the community after the closure of the barracks and asylum.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The archaeological relics identified at Castle Hill, and other relics potentially on the site but not yet exposed, hold considerable potential to contribute to substantive research questions relating to important trends in the state’s (and nation’s) history, including the treatment of the convicts and mental health patients incarcerated at the site, the circumstances precipitating the Battle of Vinegar Hill, early attempts at agriculture west of Sydney, and (at the local level) the settlement and later development of the area around Castle Hill.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The site represents an uncommon aspect of the state’s (and nation’s) history, in that it is one of only two places in the country where armed rebellion was planned and commenced. Similarly, it was the first Lunatic Asylum in the colony, and rare to that extent, although later examples also existed. The cultural landscape at the site also comprises an uncommon example of a relatively unchanged (in terms of topography and later development) convict farm site.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Castle Hill Heritage Park is important at the State level as a representative example of a relatively unchanged (in terms of topography and later development) convict farm site. Its remnant cultural landscape is a good example of the nineteenth century convict farm settlement.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for commentConservation Management Plan, July 2007  
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

FRANK SARTOR
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0144822 Dec 00 16813891
Local Environmental PlanOld Government Farm SiteSchedule 101 Mar 91   
National Trust of Australia register Castle Hill Historic Site Landscape Conservation A6958   
Register of the National EstateCastle Hill Settlement Site296425 Mar 86   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAnne Bickford1990Conservation Study of Heritage Park, Castle Hill
WrittenGodden Mackay Logan in assoc with Archaeological and Heritage Management Solutions2007Castle Hill Heritage Park CMP
WrittenHeritage Division1990paper file: S90/7504 (Third Government Farm Site, Castle Hill)
WrittenMayne-Wilson & Associates1999Heritage & Visual Analysis of the environs of Heritage Park Castle Hill
WrittenMcDonald McPhee P/L with Thorp, W., & Burton, C. contributions1991Heritage Park Plan of Management and Conservation Strategy, Castle Hill
WrittenRegister of the National Estate Database2002(not given)
WrittenSydney Living Museums2017Convict Sydney View detail

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5051518
File number: EF14/5728;S92/1663;H02/180


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