Varroville Homestead & Estate - Proposed extension of curtilage (under consideration) | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Varroville Homestead & Estate - Proposed extension of curtilage (under consideration)

Item details

Name of item: Varroville Homestead & Estate - Proposed extension of curtilage (under consideration)
Other name/s: Varro Ville, Varra Ville
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Farming and Grazing
Category: Homestead Complex
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP218016
LOT4 DP239557
PART LOTB DP370979
LOT21 DP564065
LOT22 DP564065

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Catholic Metropolitan Cemeteries TrustReligious Organisation 
Jacqui Kirkby & Peter GibbsPrivate 

Statement of significance:

Varroville is a celebrated early farm estate dating from 1810 with early structures, 1850s homestead, layout, agricultural (vineyard) terracing/trenching and evidence of early access road. The remnant estate with its landscape and integral estate core, rare and innovative features, early establishment, substantial intactness as a cultural landscape and important colonial associations; is of significant state heritage value.

Varroville house dating from 1858-9 is a significant example of the work of William Weaver, former Government Architect 1854-56. The house appears to occupy the site of a previous (1810s) house and the kitchen of the northern wing incorporates the sandstone chimneypiece of a previous service wing. With the exception of generously scaled rooms and plate glass windows (allowing maximum light and views), the symmetrical Italianate villa is architecturally conservative. This, and the large underground water tank at the end of the wings may reflect Weaver's engineering (rather than architectural) training. Varroville is significant for the relationship between the house and its group of farm buildings, sited in relation to each other on the ridge. The location of the outbuildings along the entrance drive reflect William Lawson's Veteran Hall, Prospect and Mrs Charles Meredith's description of Homebush in the 1840s, both of which have since been demolished.

The garden immediately surrounding the house is a substantially intact mid-19th century plan with a gravelled carriage drive (with post-1950 concrete edgings), lawn tennis court site c. 1870(?) remains of a glasshouse and a trellis. Perimeter fence lines and gates have been relocated post 1950 but the original locations are well documented in photographs of c. 1935. The garden contains staples of Cumberland Plain gardening: Moreton Bay figs, hoop pines, funeral cypresses, white cedars, pepper trees, a Norfolk Island hibiscus, Bauhinia, agaves (bordering the original drive), yuccas, aloes and hedges of cape honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis) and common olive. The Queensland rain forest tree, Barklya syringifolia, may possibly survive from the c. 1890s-1910 period.

'Varro Ville's remnant vineyard trenching, directly linked to original grantee Dr Robert Townson, is rare in Australia on account of its unusually extensive area, its very early period, its unusual trenching patterns relative to the topography and its dual function as a means of intercepting rainfall and runoff for water conservation (it is also possibly unique in an Australian context as a vineyard apparently inspired directly from ancient Roman writers on agriculture). Through its documentary and largely intact physical evidence, the Varro Ville cultural landscape also demonstrates one of the earliest systematic attempts at water conservation in Australia' (OPP 2016, p108). Varroville, through the Sturt dams and modified watercourses from the Sturt period and the large underground water tank c1858 that extends westwards from the ends of the wings of the house illustrates early recognition of the importance of water conservation to colonists in NSW

'The Varro Ville estate landscape setting holds exceptional aesthetic value for its ability to demonstrate a rare surviving example in NSW of an English landscape park approach to estate planning indicating an awareness of the highly influential work of landscape pioneers Capability Brown and Humphry Repton. The Varro Ville homestead also demonstrates former Colonial Architect William Weaver's awareness of classic country villa siting, formal planning and design principles espoused by ancient European writers such as Pliny the Younger and Renaissance architects such as Leon Battista Alberti and Andrea Palladio. An essential component of Varro Ville's ability to demonstrate notions of classic villa planning and Reptonian landscape typologies is that its impressive picturesque views (to and from the homestead core) are an integral part of its significance-the homestead cannot be seen in isolation from its visually cohesive landscape setting' (OPP 2016, p108). Governor Macquarie remarked that the farms of Townson and Thompson (St. Andrews, opposite Varroville) were the best pasturage he had seen in the colony. The gently rolling hills of the two properties appealed to English Picturesque sensibilities reflected in the locality name-Scenic Hills.

Varroville, a 'house in the landscape', is sited to take advantage of the sweeping, wrap-around views of the scenic hills from Raby Road in the west to Bunbury Curran Hill in the north and to an extending ridgeline of the range to the east. The important western view dominates the entry through the front door and across the rear courtyard. The direct view line (still evident) from the homestead to the landmark Araucarias of both nearby Denham Court and Macquarie Fields house appears to be a deliberate siting intention.

'The totality of the Varro Ville cultural landscape holds exceptional cultural value as it retains many elements-including its vineyard, dam network, progression of important buildings spanning between the early 19th century and 1858, pre-1850 lines of access and fence alignments, plantings that are likely contemporary with the homestead, a considerable archaeological resource having exceptional research potential and historic views-that testify to its establishment and consolidation as a farming estate and country villa over a period of more than 200 years' (OPP 2016, p109). Varroville is rare as one of the few larger estate landscapes remaining in the Campbelltown area where the form of the original grant and the former agricultural use of the estate and its rural landscape character can be appreciated.

Varroville was significant to the horticultural development, agriculture and food production in early New South Wales through the laying out of a productive kitchen garden in 1809 noted for its extensive fruit varieties by the early 1820s and the establishment of a vineyard, said to be second only to that of Gregory Blaxland of Brush Farm, Eastwood. Accounts relating to Charles Sturt's ownership (1837-39) indicate the property's continued role in the acclimatisation of plants sourced from as far afield as Calcutta. The grants of land at Minto were made by Colonel Paterson in response to the Hawkesbury floods of 1806 and later, aiming to safeguard the colony's food supplies. A significant portion of Varroville was used for growing crops in the c. 1810s-1830s period. Townson supplied meat to the Sydney, Liverpool and Parramatta commissariat stores.

'The remnant Varro Ville estate holds considerable associational value for its direct and important connexions with a large number of prominent and elite figures in early Australian society-including Dr Robert Townson, Governor Lachlan and Mrs Elizabeth Macquarie, explorer Captain Charles Sturt, NSW's first Postmaster-General James Raymond, Justice Alfred Cheeke and Colonial Architect and engineer William Weaver. More recently, its notable associations include ACM Jackaman (Cambridge engineer; pilot; owner and instigator of Gatwick Airport, UK including its famous Beehive building) and Cherry Jackaman (first female President of the National Trust of Australia (NSW))' (OPP 2016, p109).
Date significance updated: 10 Jul 17
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

Designer/Maker: William Weaver
Physical description: Estate and Setting:
The approach to the siting of Varroville which avoided the house being silhouetted against the sky was endorsed by the horticulturalist and landscape designer, Thomas Shepherd (1776-1836, probably citing the British landscape architect Humphry Repton) when describing the siting of Elizabeth Bay House, Sydney, and later discussed by British writer on estate planning, John Claudius Loudon (1773-1843) whose writings were influential in colonial New South Wales. Varroville is oriented east-west, taking advantage of vistas to other Cumberland Plain homesteads, Denham Court and Macquarie Field House. The locally named Scenic Hills describe the picturesque rolling country selected as the location of the Varroville grant.

Garden:
In the immediate surrounds of the house, the gravelled carriage drive, lawn tennis court site, remains of a glasshouse and plantings are elements of a substantially intact mid-19th century garden plan. The carriage loop (with concrete edgings remaining from the Jackaman period: (1950-1990)) appears to relate to the 1858 house. It does not connect with the drive that passes in front of it to the east, but this 'disconnection' may relate to Jackaman period changes. Perimeter fence lines and gates have been relocated during the Jackaman period.

Hardy Wilson described 'Varraville' [sic] as 'an Early-Victorian homestead encompassed by many oleanders'. The garden contains staples of Cumberland Plain gardening - Moreton Bay figs (Ficus macrophylla), hoop pines (Araucaria cunninghamii) funeral cypresses (Chamaecyparis funebris)(particularly along the back drive), white cedars (Melia azederach var.australasica), pepper trees (Schinus molle var.areira), coral trees (Erythrina sp., probably E.indica or E.x sykesii)(Read, S., pers.comm.), a Norfolk Island hibiscus /white oak (Lagunaria patersonae), orchid tree (Bauhinia variegata), century plants/agaves (A.americana) (the stretch of original drive in front of the house is a forest of these), Spanish bayonets/Adam's needles (Yucca sp.), aloes (A.sp.) and hedges of Cape honeysuckle/tecoma (Tecomaria capensis) and common African olive (Olea europaea var.africana).

The kitchen garden laid out in 1809 and described in Sturt's 1839 sale advertisement may have occupied sloping ground to the north - west of the house (Carlin, 2007 with botanic names added by Stuart Read, 22/12/08).

The oldest colonial plantings appear to be located in the tennis court area east of the house, which is supports the current owners' view that this is the most likely site of the second house on the property (built by Townson and lived in by Sturt and Raymond). Landscape architect Geoffrey Britton advises that Varroville's Indian shot/ Canna lily is the species plant (C.indica) and that was located en masse on the far slope of what is now a herbaceous border on the southern bank above the tennis court. Geoffrey also considers that the Cypress located on the entrance there is very old. Aside from the figs and hoop pines and re-seeded white cedars, the rest of the garden is largely of the Jackaman era planted out in the 1950s and early 1960s. C.japonica on site is likely also to be remnant progeny of an early colonial planting as there are many in the tennis court area, along with cotoneasters. Cotoneasters could have been put there by the Jackamans, as Cherry Jackaman apparently had cotoneasters espaliered down the northern side of the house (removed by later owners)(Kirkby, J., pers.comm., 22/12/08 edited by Stuart Read).

There are two arbors in the garden - an old arbour with an enormous Banksia rose (Rosa banksia 'Lutea') which was replaced by the previous owners and a second arbour (with an old jasmine (Jasminium sp.) and wisteria (W.sinensis) is now propped up with iron bars (Kirkby, J., edited by Stuart Read, 14/1/2009).


Outbuildings: (NB: Outside SHR boundary to the east)
may date from c.1810 (Macquarie's visit); 1813 (Townson's move to the property); or later. These include a coach house.

House:
Varroville, occupying the site of a previous c. 1810s house has important relationships with features associated with the Townson, Wills and Sturt periods of ownership and occupancy of the estate (1810-1839) - the original driveway from Campbelltown Road, outbuildings grouped in relation to the entrance drive on the ridge to the southern side of the house, the remnant vineyard terracing that wraps around the hillside in view of the house, a track to Bunbury Curran Hill, post and rail fences and dams and modified watercourses believed to have been made by the explorer, Charles Sturt.

The house occupies a narrow ridge (or saddle) on the south side of Bunbury Curran Hill, a landmark that led Townson to refer to Varroville as his property at 'Bunbury Curran'. Bunbury Curran Hill was climbed by Governor and Mrs Macquarie in November 1810 to take advantage of views across the Cumberland Plain to Sydney. The hill, clad in bush, has evidently played a significant role in the landscape design of Varroville, providing a dramatic backdrop to the house when approached from the south. The landscape design of Varroville was discussed between Townson and the Macquaries in 1810.

arroville House is a substantial single-storey symmetrical rendered brick house in a 'U' shape with two rear wings on a stone foundation by the architects, Weaver and Kemp and dating from 1858-9. Its room uses are known from an 1876 sale advertisement. The fabric of the house is intact with surviving blackbutt floors, cedar joinery, plaster ceiling roses and imported marble chimneypieces. The roof, originally shingled, is now covered with corrugated iron. The house appears to occupy the site of a previous (1810s) house and the kitchen of the northern wing incorporates the sandstone chimneypiece of a previous service wing (one of the uprights of the chimneypiece has a void for the hinging of an iron kitchen crane). A large underground water tank extends westwards from the ends of the wings of the house (Carlin, 2007, amended Read, Stuart, 22/12/08).

History

Historical notes: The Cowpastures:
When the first fleet arrived in Sydney Cove in 1788 they found the soil unsuitable for farming and soon looked towards the heavy clay and loam soils of the Cumberland Plain (to the west) to sustain the colony. Early agricultural settlements were located on the rich alluvial soils of the Nepean, Hawkesbury and Georges River areas, as well as South Creek near St.Marys and at the head of the Parramatta River where the settlement of Rose Hill (later Parramatta) was established about six months after the fleet landed. A settlement at the Hawkesbury was established in 1794.

By 1804 much of the Cumberland Plain had been settled and Governor King began to look for other regions in the colony for favourable arable land. The only suitable land within the Cumberland Plain was the area known as the Cowpastures, located in the southwestern corner. This area was named after the discovery in 1795 of cows from the first fleet which had wandered off into the bush. The Cowpastures had remained unoccupied due to the official decree that reserved the land for the wild cattle (to encourage their increase).

In December 1803 Governor and Mrs King visited the Cowpastures for themselves and the Sydney Gazette reported that Mrs King was the first 'white lady' to have crossed the Nepean River. The track to the Cowpastures led from Prospect and on 17/9/1805 James Meehan, under instructions from Governor King, commenced a survey of the track from Prospect to the Nepean Crossing and a rough road followed the marked line. This became known as Cowpasture Road, later the Hume Highway, most of which is today part of the Camden Valley Way.

Several visits to the area by the colonial gentry took place at this time, which resulted in their desire to acquire some of this rich land for themselves. They saw the area as containing very good grazing land. Captain Henry Waterhouse described the area in a letter to John Macarthur in 1804 as follows: " I am at a loss to describe the face of the country other than as a beautiful park, totally divested of underwood, interspersed with plains, with rich luxuriant grass".

Earlier Europeans had described 'large ponds covered with ducks and the black swan, the margins of which were fringed with shrubs of the most delightful tints'. The Europeans thought the flats were perfect for cattle and the hills would carry sheep. They admired the absence of underbush - probably achieved through Aboriginal burning off - and felt comfortable with a landscape that reminded them of an English gentleman's park.

John Macarthur received the first land grant in the Cowpastures region in 1805 for his role in the early wool industry in the colony. Lord Camden rewarded him with 10,000 acres and Macarthur chose the highly coveted Cowpastures for his grant, though Governor King tried to prevent him taking it. Macarthur also organised a 2000 grant for his friend Walter Davidson, who allowed Macarthur to use his land freely after Davidson returned to England. In this manner Macarthur controlled 12 miles of riverbank on the site where the wild cattle had first discovered the best pasture near Sydney. Later purchases and exchanges increased the Macarthur land there to over 27,000 acres, an endowment that Governor Macquarie greatly resented.

Other early grants were in the Parishes of Minto and in adjoining Evan, Bringelly, Narellan and Cook. These all lay west of Parramatta (Godden Mackay Logan, 2012, 20-21).

Governor Macquarie drew up plans in 1820 for establishment of a town in the area, to be named Campbelltown after his wife Elizabeth's maiden name. With their forced return to England in 1822 these plans never came to fruition and it was not until the arrival of Governor Darling in 1827 that plans were again reinstated and the first settlers were allowed to take posession of their town land in 1831. In the early 1850s the railway line from Sydney to Goulburn was completed, with a station opening at Campbelltown in 1858. When Leppington House was offered for lease in 1865, one of its selling points was that it was near a railway. Campbelltown now provided easy access to Sydney and its markets and grew as the centre of the district. Although Camden was established in 1836, with no railway line it remained a small town.

The large estates that flanked Cowpasture Road (later Camden Valley Way) and the Northern Road were run largely as sheep and cattle farms, with wheat and other grain crops being grown as well until the 1850s. The houses were often built on surrounding ridges or hills, providing sweeping views of the countryside and ensuring that any passing traveller could appreciate the owner's status by viewing their impressive country mansions from the road. This land use pattern of large farm estates and small towns, established in the nineteenth century, remained largely the pattern of development of the area up until the late 1990s. Aerial photographs of the area in 1947 show a rural landscape with some limited urban development on either side of (then) Camden Valley Way (ibid, 22-23).

Townson of Varroville:
Robert Townson was born c.1763 in Shropshire, developing interests in mineralogy and natural sciences young. Elected a non-resident member or Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1791, Physical class. He graduated M.D. at Gottingen University in 1795. Over 8-9 years he travelled extensively in Europe, from Trondheim in the north to Sicily, studying mineralogy, chemistry, botany, rural economy, technology, politics and ethics in the Universities of Gottingen, Vienna, Paris and Edinburgh. His 'Travels in Hungary' was published in 1797, his 1798 'The Philosophy of Mineralogy' and a paper on the 'perceptivity of Plants' was read in 1792 and included in the 'Transactions' of the Linnaean Society (Havard, 2005).

In July 1807 Townson (d.1827), doctor of law and gentleman scientist arrived in Sydney. He had been elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and visited the universities of Copenhagen, Uppsala and Gottingen. In 1792 he contributed a paper to the Linnaean Society of London on the 'Perceptivity of Plants'. 'He was often at the home of Sir Joseph Banks and had there met William Paterson of the New South Wales Corps. His brother, Captain John Townson had served as a military officer in NSW before migrating to the colony as a settler in 1806, so he had ample opportunities to learn about the new settlement. Robert approached the British government for permission to settle in NSW. He was warmly received, informed that he was the type most urgently needed in the colony, promised land and indulgences, and allowed (Pounds)100 to buy books and a laboratory for the colony. Dr Townson arrived in Sydney in the Young William on 7 July 1807. Proficient in all branches of natural science and also in Latin, Greek, German, French, he was the most eminent scholar in the young colony.' (ADB).

Townson arrived as a settler intending to establish himself as a pastoralist and trader in 1807 (Everett, 2004). He arrived with the instructions of the British Secretary of State to Governor Bligh to grant him 2,000 acres. Bligh refused to 'locate the grant', but allowed him occupancy while awaiting instructions from England, which arrived in a letter of 31 December 1807. He established himself on a small estate of 77 acres on the banks of the Georges River, living there for about 5 years, building a residence, stock yard, making and enclosing paddocks and making roads. He called this grant Towweery (Tom Ugly's)(Havard, 2005).

In January 1808 Townson, affronted at Bligh's delay over the granting of land, became 'an opponent of Bligh, and when rebellion took place some months later he was judged one of the principal six 'who previously concerted together with Major Johnston the arrest and imprisonment of the Governor'. He was present at the dinner at the officers' mess on the eve of the trial of John Macarthur which precipitated the revolt [and] he signed the requisition to Johnston to depose Bligh on 26 January 1808' He 'soon fell out with the rebel administration. Johnston refused to give him the land he wanted at Emu Island, near Penrith; though he was given 2000 acres (809 ha) at Botany Bay near the present Blakehurst and twenty-eight government cattle, he claimed that only half the grant was of any use, and his long complaints against Bligh written in 1807 and 1808 were followed by another, equally querulous, in 1809 against his supplanters.' (ADB).

Overlooked in the grants made by Johnston in 1808, he received two grants from Foveaux in November 1808, both in the Botany Bay district, one of 75 acres, the other of 1925 acres around the present Oatley station, Mortdale, Penshurst and Hurstville.' (SHR). He had six assigned convicts (Havard, 2005).

In 1809, finding this [Botany Bay] land unsuitable he applied to Paterson (who took over the government) for some adjacent land, of 480 acres. Since his land had poor pasture, he was obliged to send his flock away to other ground, and a few months before Macquarie's arrival he asked Paterson to allow him to exchange 800 acres of his grant for some more open land 'in a distant part of the colony'. Paterson allowed him to take up 1000 acres for the 800, giving him a total of 2680 acres. This 1000 acres he chose was in the Minto district, and was the origin of Varro Ville... (Havard, 2005).

James Meehan surveyed Varro Ville in August 1809, mentioning the hill of Bunbury Curran, a range, flats and hollows, hills and dales, ponds and ironbark trees, and the creek. A road was to be reserved on the south-east side. The grant was ready for delivery in November 1809'. (SHR) 'Townson later confirmed that he had immediately occupied the land, 'employed a great deal of labour, and expended a great deal of money' in building a horse yard, cultivating a large garden, clearing and fencing paddock and making roads. (Fowler p. 68).

Macquarie on his arrival annulled by public proclamation the trials which had taken place during the usurpation (of Bligh). Grants of land and of stock and leases during the same period were revoked, as well as pardons and emancipations until he could tour all the districts and reconsider the grants. Townson was required to hand in his grants, which he did in 1810. Macquarie re-granted Townson 1,000 acres (405 ha) at Bunbury Curran (2000 acres at Minto (1000 acres/405ha at 'Bunbury Curran' as it was called) and Botany Bay were given in May 1811, despite Townson's objections about the amount of land required to be cultivated)(Havard, 2005)), which Townson named Varro Ville after the Roman writer on agriculture, Marcus Terentius Varro (116-37 BC).(ADB). The stated reason was that Varro wrote extensively on agriculture and Townson was intent on making Varroville an exemplar of agricultural pursuit, which, according to his obituaries and official biography (Havard, 2005), he achieved.

In November 1810 Governor Macquarie toured the area (after having chosen the site of a town on George's River to which he gave the name Liverpool, after the Earl of that title (Havard, 2005) following the foundation of Liverpool, and writes in his journal (8th November 1810): '[Finding] Mrs M had gone after returning home to see Dr Townson's farm and Bunbury Curran Hill we all followed her thither, and met her returning home again after having ascended the Hill, accompanied by her guide Mr. Meehan [Surveyor and owner of Macquarie Field]. The accounts given to me by Mrs M. of the beautiful prospect she had from the top of Bunbury Curran Hill induced me to ascend it, which I did on horseback, and was highly gratified with the noble extensive view I had from the top of it of the surrounding country. On my return from the Hill, we overtook Mrs M. on Dr Townson's farm, where we stopt for a few minutes to speak to the Doctor and look at a very ill chosen situation he has fixed on for the site of his new intended house'.

Macquarie also commented in his journal that the farms of Townson and Andrew Thompson (St. Andrews farm, opposite Varroville) were 'by far the finest soil and best pasturage I have yet seen in the colony; the grounds are beautiful and bounded by a large creek of brackish water called Bunbury Curran' (SHR). This difference of opinion on siting reflects the different characters of Macquarie and Townson - the former masterful and dashing, would have chosen a prominent site with an extensive view, the latter a scholar, preferring seclusion and proximity to oversight his crops and orchard (Havard, 2005).

Varro was a famous man of letters. Authors like Quintilian considered him 'the most learned of the Romans'. He wrote 74 works on 620 papyrus rolls on several subjects, but practically none have survived. His lost 'On Libraries', in which he describes the organisation of a library and gives reasons for defining books as cultural artefacts, is one of the earliest discussions of the subject (Baez, 2008).

Since these grants were made on the customary condition that the land be cultivated and not sold for five years, Townson again felt aggrieved. He had been living on his capital for nearly four years and was afraid of penury. He sought permission to sell his land and return to England. In the end he remained but developed a psychopathic personality. He subordinated everything to the development of his farms, shut himself off from society and apparently did no scientific work in New South Wales. He became 'singular' and eccentric and his rigid economy became a byword. He also nursed undue hostility towards all who had contributed to his critical situation; Macquarie described him as 'discontented' and one of his leading opponents, though there is no evidence that Townson took part in intrigues against him' (ADB).

March 1812 'In March 1812 it would appear that Townson had not yet built his house. "This state of uncertainty (over the route of a public road [St Andrews road, linking the Liverpool -Campbelltown road with the Cowpasture Road] has prevented me from going on with my plans and I am still living, when at Bunbury Curran, in a very uncomfortable manner, as on this road depends where I shall place my house and make my inclosures. (Fowler p. 70)

After 5 years at his small grant of 77 acres at Towweery (Tom Ugly's) on George's River, Townson had relocated to Minto by 1813 (SHR) and had made the 'necessary establishment' there. He had managed to keep his 6 convicts for five years on the Government stores (when new settlers were normally allowed men on the stores for only 18 months), gaining extensions from Macquarie in 1810 and 1811 (Havard, 2005).

Townson was associated with the development of the Australian wine industry, having been once known as 'the finest orchard in the Colony and a vineyard second only to Gregory Blaxland's' (at Brush Farm, Ryde). He made very good use of his grant of 1000 acres at Minto (Everett, 2004). 'Black Muscardelle' grapes were cultivated and liberally distributed by merchant and viticulturist Robert Campbell. Robert Townson made a 'passable sweet wine' from this grape at Bunbury Curran near 'Campbell-Town'and possibly also grew 'Black Portugal' or 'Oporto'(i.e. Varroville).
McIntyre, 2012, Appendix 1, 224-5).


In 1815 Townson supplied meat to the Sydney, Liverpool and Parramatta stores.
In the 1818 Muster of stock for 1818 'Townson had 214 head of horned cattle and 1961 sheep He had twenty-two acres in wheat, eight in maize, four in barley, two in potatoes and two in garden and orchard.' Following drought (and the caterpillar plague of 1819) Townson obtained a permit to pasture cattle across the mountains. In May 1821 he sent them south to a run that became Tiranna, Goulburn. (JRAHS vol 91 pt 2 p. 188)

In October 1820 Townson offered property for sale ' 1,000 acres at Bunbury Curran, with a good house and offices and one of the best gardens in the colony. A great part is fenced in and divided into paddocks'. See JRAHS vol 91 pt 2 p. 190 for list of stock.

After Macquarie departed the colony, Townson began to take his rightful place in the community. In 1822 he became a foundation vice-president of the Agricultural Society and a member of its Horticultural and Stock Fund Committees. Varroville became a show place for its beauty, abundance and variety in orchard and garden; his vineyard was second only to that of Gregory Blaxland; his fine-wooled sheep and their clip were in great demand; his cattle were numerous and in the opinion of his contemporaries no single man had accomplished more in the rearing of stock' (ADB).

1823 'When the members of the Agricultural Society [of New South Wales] dined after the general Quarterly Meeting in Nash's Inn, Parramatta, at the beginning of 1823 the dessert was contributed from the gardens of Dr Townson and Captain Piper. 'It consisted of no fewer than 18 kinds of fresh fruit, and 4 of dried; among which were the banana, the Orlean plum, the green gage, the real peach, the cat-head apple, and a peculiarly fine sort of musk melon. ' 'Next to Gregory Blaxland, Townson was regarded as having 'most successfully and most extensively given his attention to the vine.' (JRAHS vol 91 pt 2 p. 198)

1825 A notice regarding the theft of grain from Townson's farm mentions a granary. (Fowler, 72)

1827 Townson died at Varroville on 27 June 1827 and was buried at St John's cemetery, Parramatta.. A bachelor, he left his fortune to his brother, Captain John Townson of Van Diemen's Land, to two nieces residing in England and to his nephew, Captain John Witts, R.N. A portrait, attributed to Augustus Earle is in the Mitchell Library. (ADB) By the time of his death, Varro Ville had become a show place for its beauty, abundance and variety in orchard and garden: his vineyard was second only to that of Gregory Blaxland (at Brush Farm, Ryde); his fine-wooled sheep and their clip were in great demand; his cattle were numerous and in the opinion of his contemporaries 'no single man had accomplished more in the rearing of stock' (ADB, vol.2, 1967).

1829 Varroville was acquired by Thomas Spencer Wills (1800-1836), the first Australian born Justice of the Peace and a founder of the Bank of NSW. One of his sisters married Dr William Redfern (1774 - 1833) of nearby Campbellfield, a major landowner in the area, while another married Henry Colden Antill (1779 - 1852) of Jarvisfield, Picton.

1832 The New South Wales Calendar and General Post Office Directory 1832 refers to 'the residence of the late Dr Townson, now the property of Thomas Wills, Esq. This place is celebrated for a Garden and Vinery.' (Fowler, 75).

Early 1837 Varroville was acquired by explorer, Captain Charles Sturt (1795-1869), who "described himself as 'an enthusiastic horticulturalist'. Writing to his brother William in Calcutta in 1835 when he was planning the purchase of a property, Sturt begged for fruits, plants, bulbs or seeds, 'the rarer the better'." (Fowler p. 77) Sturt established dams and modified watercourses, maintained the thriving kitchen garden, orchard and vineyard and took a keen interest in the birdlife at Varroville. He later cited Varroville as a model of water conservation during his term as Assistant Commissioner of Lands in South Australia (Mrs Napier George Sturt, Life of Charles Sturt, Elder & Co., London, 1899, 125).

In 1838 'On another occasion, in Sturt's second home in Varroville, the powers of native trackers were again called into play. Here in 1838 he was visited by the bird-artist, John Gould, who greatly admired Sturt's large original collection of Australian Psittacidae [parrots] in water-colour, for which he offered on the spot a large sum. But these paintings had been the delight of Sturt's leisure; he was devoted to ornithology and had collected rare specimens at great trouble and risk, and at no price would he part with his folio. It is supposed that Gould's remarks must have drawn the attention of some dishonest workman to the value of the drawings, for soon afterward the military chest in which they were kept disappeared and was never again seen. Natives put upon the scent found military accoutrements and other articles thrown out of the same chest, so that drawings were clearly the object of the theft' (Mrs Napier Sturt, 1899, 122)

Sturt in a speech at a dinner in honour of Governor Gawler, 10 January 1840 urged South Australians to store water. 'On my farm at Varroville, until labour and skill were exerted, one only of many channels held water, and that was brackish. When I passed that farm, every paddock had its proper water-hole. In a severe drought I not only fed 180 head of stock on 1,000 acres (of which 350 was under cultivation), but I permitted 19 families to supply themselves from my tanks' (Mrs Napier Sturt, 1899, p.193) Turner, male convict servant as cook rescued the elder Sturt son from drowning in a pond or dam. (Mrs Napier Sturt, 1899, 174)

'But no forethought could avert the widespread ruin from such a drought that prevailed between 1836 and 1839. Not even Sturt's waterholes could satisfy all demands or supplement the failing pasture. His hay-crop in 1838 was better than that of his neighbours. But stock were quite at a discount. Nor could wool be sent to Sydney for want of water by the way. The lines of road were unwholesome from the number of cattle and horses that dropped dead upon them. Just when the farmers of New South Wales were reduced to their lowest ebb their hopes were revived by the new settlement in South Australia.' (Mrs Napier Sturt, 1899, 125)

In 1839 Sturt's sale notice for the property appeared in the Australian, 'The cottage is convenient and an excellent kitchen and wash house have been added to it. The outhouses consist of stables, coach house, verandah, dairy, store, barn etc. and there is a well-stocked garden and vineyard'. 'Sturt apparently sold his uncleared grant 5,000 acres [at Ginningdera, [sic] Canberra] at its auction value with the proceeds bought a small but ready- fenced property at Varroville, which on his sudden departure for South Australia in 1839 [to take up the post of Surveyor-General], he was forced to sell at so great a loss that the final outcome of the grant dwindled to less than (Pounds)450.' (Mrs Napier Sturt, 1899, 109)

Nov 1839 Varroville acquired by James Raymond, the first Postmaster General of the Colony of New South Wales. Raymond introduced the world's first pre-paid postage in November 1838, anticipating the British penny postage in 1840. Raymond entertained extensively at Varroville. 'He was also a keen follower of horse-racing and owned several horses himself.' (ADB) An oil on canvas horse portrait by Edward Winstanley (1820-1849) 'Nazeer Farrib', A High Caste Arab, the property of James Raymond Esq of Varroville is in the State Library of NSW collection (ML282).

Raymond died at Darlinghurst on 29 May 1851 aged 65 and his daughter Aphra (Aphrasia Kemmis) and her family lived rent-free at Varroville according to the terms of his will (Fowler, 85). Raymond featured as the fictional postmaster 'Raymond Plenty' in architect and writer William Hardy Wilson's romance 'The Cowpasture Road', Sydney, Art in Australia, 1920, 38-40.

1858 'In 1858 Raymond's sons sold the property to the late George Taylor Rowe, who mortgaged it to H. H. Browne. Browne defaulted on his mortgage during 1859 and Rowe claimed possession of the house. ' (Fowler, 85)

27 April 1858 Architects, Weaver & Kemp of 160 Pitt Street, Sydney advertise for tenders from masons 'for laying the Foundations of a House at Varroville, near Campbelltown. Plan and specification, and further particulars may be ascertained on application to the undersigned' (Sydney Morning Herald 27.4.1858). William Weaver (1828-) was a former Colonial Architect (1854- April 1856), formerly Edmund Blacket's clerk of works (while Blacket was Colonial Architect) and had trained under Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the Franco-British civil engineer (1806-1859). Weaver & Kemp also designed Jarvisfield, Picton and Burrundulla, Mudgee. The new house was built on the site of the previous house, retaining an early stone chimneypiece (with evidence of a former kitchen crane) and hearthstone from the previous house. The bread oven chimney has been capped before the shingling of the roof above it.

c. 1859 Following Rowe's death Varroville sold to Justice Alfred Cheeke for (Pounds)4,500. Cheeke (1810-1876) bred and trained race horses at Varroville (including 'Clove' which won the first Australian Jockey Club Derby in 1865), established and maintained a private racecourse on the flat below the house. He was elevated to the Supreme Court of NSW in 1865. An oval form close to today's F5 freeway has been identified in aerial photographs as possibly Cheeke's racetrack.

1876 Varroville, the estate of the late Justice Cheeke was advertised for sale by Richardson & Wrench and purchased by grazier M. Suttor. 'Varroville House is a commodious family residence, recently erected by the late proprietor. It is built of brick and stone, is nearly surrounded by verandahs and contains the following accommodation:- hall, 8 feet wide: drawing and dining rooms each 20 x 16: 6 bedrooms, two of which are 20 x 16: dressing room with well-arranged superior bath: patent closet: stove, kitchen with oven, servants hall, wine cellar, laundry with copper, larder, pantry, china closet & c
There is an additional residence of six apartments a few yards from the above. Both are surrounded by tastefully laid out gardens and shrubbery, are erected on a beautiful elevation, and approached by a fine carriage drive from the main road.

An abundant supply of water is obtained from an immense underground reservoir, which receives the roof water. A pump forces the water on to the premises, supplying the bathroom &c. The outbuildings are very numerous and comprise gardener's house, barn, cow-houses, calf-pens, dairy, piggery with coppers, stock and drafting yards, complete ranges of stabling, including a number of well-finished spacious loose boxes for blood stock.' (Sydney Morning Herald, 15 April 1876).

This (William Weaver-designed, built in partnership with William Kemp, c1858-9) house is the third built on the estate.

1885 Suttor sold Varroville to Sydney solicitor, Thomas Salter. Salter leased it to H. Pockley for dairying.

1906 Salter sold Varroville to Reginald Thomas (Fowler, 87).
1912 Thomas sold Varroville to W. H. Staniforth, dairyman of St Andrews.

1923 Staniforth leased Varroville to Percy, Austin and Arthur Smith (Smith Bros), dairymen of Concord. They operated dairies at Robin Hood Farm (Ingleburn, also NSW State Heritage Register-listed) and Varroville until 1958, running their own dairy herd and purchasing milk from local farmers' (Liston, 107).

1929 George Smith purchased Varroville. In 1946, George Smith transferred the land to Arthur James Smith, dairyman of Minto. In 1950, Arthur James Smith subdivided Varroville and sold it in a number of smaller parcels. This was the first time that Varroville was subdivided (OPP 2016, p25) into three lots A, B and C. Lot B was transferred to William Forest Ross in 1950 and Lot A was transferred to Robert Stanley Thompson. Thompson re-subdivided Lot A (into two lots ! and 2) and he sold the lot that contained the Varroville homestead to William Forest Ross who (within the same year, 1950) sold both his lots to the Jackamans (OPP 2016, p26-27).

In 1950, the property was transferred to Cherry Jackaman, wife of Alfred Charles Morris Jackaman, who was the engineer Gatwick Airport in England, and former RAF 601 Squadron (Auxiliary) member, Alfred L M (Morris) and wife Cherry Jackaman (1911-2011). Changes made by the Jackamans include enlarging the drawing room (to the former footprint of the northern veranda and extending the terrace on this side), relocating the access to the cellar, building the colonnade at the western end of the courtyard (on the site of a picket fence), installing the fountain against the northern range wall, building the swimming pool, change rooms, gazebo and 'crazy paving' the surrounds of these. The old back drive from St Andrew's Road became the principal entry.

In 1960 Cherry Jackaman joined Dame Helen Blaxland on the Womens' Committee of the National Trust (NSW). Jackaman chaired this committee from 1964-67 and by 1968 had raised more than $100,000, which was directed to Experiment Farm Cottage, Lindesay and the St.Matthews Anglican Church at Windsor Appeal. She also presided over the initiation of house inspections designed to recognise important heritage properties within NSW and pioneered discounting of building supplies for restoring listed properties (McGuiness, 23-24/9/11).

1964 the Jackamans opened Varroville as part of house inspections by the National Trust of Australia (NSW) Women's Committee (another opening was held in 1968). The tour brochures indicated the Jackamans considered the house to predate the 1850s, with the verandas and marble chimneypieces described as later additions. Mrs Jackaman's guests included her friend, the British actress Vivienne Leigh, Sir Laurence Olivier and Princess Michael of Kent.

Cherry Jackaman resumed the chair of the Womens' Committee of the National Trust (NSW) in 1970 for 3 years and was elected unopposed as the first female president of the National Trust of Australia (NSW) in 1977, a position she held until 1981 (McGuiness, 2011). In the early 1970s the house lot was subdivided from its context onto 3.1 hectares (approx eight acres). The date of subdivision of the land occupied by Sweeney's Riding Ranch from land owned by the Jackaman family is unknown.

In 1973 the Campbelltown Local Environmental Plan's zoning of this section (Central Hills) of what has become known as its 'Scenic Hills' was zoned, predominantly in the case of Varroville's setting, 7d1 - Environment Protection - Scenic, some zoned 6c - Open Space (Regional).

In the 1980s land was resumed from the estate for the M5 freeway.

In 1990 Mrs Jackaman presented Varroville homestead and 3.1 hectares (i.e. without its outbuildings) to the National Trust of Australia (NSW).

In 1991 the property was sold to fund National Trust of Australia (NSW) debt (McGuiness, 2011).
In 1992 The National Trust (NSW) commissioned a conservation plan for Varroville from architects, Orwell and Peter Phillips and sold Varroville to architects, Keith and Virginia Pearson-Smith (Carlin, 2007).

2002 Varroville was acquired by John Moutsopoulos and Vanessa Seary.

2006 Varroville was acquired by Peter Gibbs and Jacqui Kirkby

May 2007 The Cornish Group acquired approximately 113ha / 280 acres adjoining and surrounding Varroville from Mrs Jackaman's daughters. Prior to this the Cornish Group were reported to have taken out an option to buy the adjoining Sweeney's Scenic Riding Ranch (not owned by the Jackaman family), giving them approximately 800 acres of the original 1000 acres of Robert Townson's 1810 estate (Carlin, 2007).

In 2009 Cherry Jackaman was awarded the OAM. Morris died in 1980, Cherry moving to Double Bay (McGuiness, 2011).

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

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 Working on private assignment-
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Migration-Activities and processes associated with the resettling of people from one place to another (international, interstate, intrastate) and the impacts of such movements Emigrating from one colony or state to another-
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 Farming wheat and other grains-
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 Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Growing vines and maintaining vineyards-
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 Farming by detainees and prisoners-
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 Pastoralism - grazing sheep, cattle, goats or other animals-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes of food production-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes and countryside of rural charm-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Science-Activities associated with systematic observations, experiments and processes for the explanation of observable phenomena Horticultural experimentation, hybridising and acclimatisation-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Science-Activities associated with systematic observations, experiments and processes for the explanation of observable phenomena Researching new agricultural production techniques-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Science-Activities associated with systematic observations, experiments and processes for the explanation of observable phenomena Researching mineralogy-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Science-Activities associated with systematic observations, experiments and processes for the explanation of observable phenomena researching chemistry-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Housing farming families-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Country Villa-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Naming places (toponymy)-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Changing land uses - from rural to suburban-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Granting Crown lands for private farming-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Sub-division of large estates-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working on pastoral stations-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Governor William Bligh, 1806-1810-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with James Meehan, Deputy Surveyor General-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Robert Townson, academic, farmer-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Charles Sturt, explorer-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Governor Lachlan Macquarie, 1810-1821-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with William Weaver, Colonial Architect 1855-6, architect-engineer-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with James Raymond, first Postmaster General-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Cherry Jackaman, first female president of the National Trust (NSW)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The former Varroville estate landscape contains 'a considerable number of important elements that testify to its settlement and agricultural development over a period of 200 years. Of particular interest are those elements that demonstrate the formative years from about 1809 through to the 1870s that cover the periods of ownership of the grant by Dr Robert Townson, Thomas Wills, Captain Charles Sturt, James Raymond, George Rowe and Justice Alfred Cheeke' (OPP 2016, p102).

'Important site evidence remains for this formative period including 1810s/1820s vineyard trenching; a progression of important buildings spanning between the early 19th century and 1858; a network of 1830s dams (tanks) installed by Thomas Wills and Charles Sturt (and to which Sturt later referred as an example when exhorting landowners throughout Australia to conserve water); pre-1850 lines of access and fence alignments; and fig tree plantings that are likely contemporary with the homestead' (OPP 2016, p102).

'Beyond these individual components, combinations of them can be shown to demonstrate an early and unusual strategy of water conservation in Australia using the dam network and the vine trenching as a system to capture rainfall and runoff; the extensive vine trenching represents one of the earliest vineyards in NSW with a focus on adapting the viticultural techniques
of ancient Roman writers; the retained clumps of old woodland trees near the dams (and especially in combination with the surviving section of carriage drive en route to the homestead) and various spectacular vistas within the western and eastern valleys are consistent with the features of an 18th and 19th century English landscape park; and the location, orientation, formal planning and architectural design of the homestead (especially in the way it embraces estate and distant views) show it be a classic example of a villa design in NSW consistent with those from Europe centuries and millennia earlier' (OPP 2016, p102).

'The basic outlines of the original 1000 acres land grant, including features mentioned by James Meehan in his 1809 survey notes (such as woodland vegetation, pre-settlement streams, Bunbury Curran Hill and Bunbury Curran Creek) largely remain intact. The original grant area is also an enduring reminder of the measured and methodical process of colonial land administration over the first few decades of European settlement of NSW' (OPP 2016, p102).

'Several early buildings survive on the former estate that testify to early phases of use of the site, including outbuilding structures (two of which are dated to the early 19th century, one - possibly Robert Townson's first house on the site - being among the earliest surviving cottages in the State) and a substantial archaeological resource associated with them. It is also likely that an important archaeological resource remains from the former Townson villa which was probably in the vicinity of the present tennis court as well as, potentially, some components of Townson;s former kitchen garden/orchard which was an early (from about 1809) and substantial example of its kind at that time in NSW. The site is also distinguished by its potential ability to demonstrate successive residences likely used by various owners of the former Townson villa (used by successive owners from Townson to Cheeke) to the present homestead' (OPP 2016, p102-103).

'It is also remarkable being so close to Campbelltown that much of the original Varro Ville land grant area still retains the character of a rural and pastoral landscape, representing several phases of varying agricultural emphasis, and is still used for agricultural purposes continuing a basic land use for over 200 years' (OPP 2016, p103).

'The former Varro Ville estate, and particularly the area in the western half of the grant between Bunbury Curran Hill and Bunbury Curran Creek,' (OPP 2016, p103) is of exceptional historical significance at a State level.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
'During its initial establishment in 1809 and subsequent formative development into the 1870s, Varro Ville had direct and important associations with a number of prominent figures in early Australian society. These included Dr Robert Townson, Governor Lachlan and Mrs Elizabeth Macquarie, Captain Charles Sturt, Postmaster-General James Raymond, Justice Alfred Cheeke (NSW Supreme Court) and former NSW Colonial Architect William Weaver (architect/ engineer). The second owner of Varro Ville, Thomas Wills (brother-in-law of Dr William Redfern and the instigator of Varro Ville's first dam system) is now known (from Charles Sturt's account) to have been an important contributor to the site's water conservation strategy' (OPP 2016, p103).

'More recently, its notable associations include ACM Jackaman (Cambridge engineer; pilot; owner and instigator of Gatwick Airport, UK including its famous Beehive building) and Cherry Jackaman (first female President of the National Trust of Australia (NSW)). The Jackaman period of ownership of Varro Ville represents the longest single ownership (over 40 years) to date. For a brief time, the National Trust of Australia (NSW) was also the owner of Varro Ville' (OPP 2016, p103).

'The following owners made various contributions in their lifetimes to the advancement of Australia: Townson (as Australia's first eminent scholar and experimental agriculturist); Sturt (as an advocate of National agricultural development inclusive of appropriate water conservation measures as well as his role in exploring Australia for its development potential); and Raymond as Australia's first Postmaster-General and for introducing, purportedly, the world's first system of pre-paid postage leading to postage stamps (and of whom there is a romanticised account in architect Hardy Wilson's The Cow Pasture Road, 1920)' (OPP 2016, p103).

The former Varroville estate in its entirety is of exceptional associational significance at a State level.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
'The enduring and outstanding characteristic of the former Varro Ville grant area is that, to a substantial extent, since 1809 it remains as a traditional rural and pastoral landscape where it is still possible to appreciate the estate core within a largely intact landscape setting. Such an attribute for an early settled property within the Cumberland Plain is now rare' (OPP 2016, p104).

'The nature of this setting is especially important as it represents a rare surviving example in NSW of an English landscape park approach to estate planning indicating an awareness of the highly influential work of landscape pioneers Capability Brown and Humphry Repton. This is demonstrated in the arrival sequence along the former main carriage drive within the eastern valley and the exquisite views to and from the homestead within the western valley along with numerous other view prospects across its various pastures, distant prospects, its irregular, naturalistic edges, clumps and belts of mature trees and water bodies along with the finely articulated valleys and swales as glades and dells. The intact estate landscape, with its continuing farming potential and impressive picturesqueness, compellingly illustrates Repton's planning objective of 'beauty and utility' combined. The landscape park became the British aesthetic mantra for a gentleman's country estate and the essential symbol of gentility both in Britain and beyond. Here it can be readily appreciated within the Antipodean landscape of Varro Ville' (OPP 2016, p104).

'Significantly, Varro Ville's homestead can also demonstrate an awareness of classic country villa siting, formal planning and design principles as espoused by ancient European writers such as Pliny the Younger and Renaissance luminaries such as Leon Battista Alberti and Andrea Palladio. In relation to the Varro Ville landscape, these principles are particularly demonstrated in the ways that the homestead has been organised to engage with its landscape setting on a quadripartite basis. Its orientation reflects a concern to exploit scenic vistas - both front and back - along its main axis as well as perpendicularly by way of a picturesque vista to the old coachhouse. Its extended northern wing projects over falling ground to exploit broadside views of the western valley with its signature dams. The reverse views - along the valley and over the dams to the homestead within its mantle of gardens and landmark plantings - is one of the most magnificent prospects of the Varro Ville landscape. An appreciation of these important aesthetic values only remains possible because of the landscape's enduring intactness as picturesque rural scenery' (OPP 2016, p104).

'The homestead itself is a fine example of the rural domestic work of noted architects Weaver and Kemp, combining ingenious planning and siting with finishes of high quality' (OPP 2016, p104).

'The former Varro Ville estate, and particularly the area in the western half of the grant between Bunbury Curran Hill and Bunbury Curran Creek' (OPP 2016, p104), is of exceptional aesthetic significance at a State level.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
'The Varro Ville estate landscape remains an extensive repository of potentially rich archaeological information of State value. Its resources range from the extensive areas of 1810s/1820s vineyard trenching (extending into the adjacent former St Andrews estate), the 1810s kitchen garden/orchard site, the 1830s dam network, the pre-1850 lines of access and fence alignments (indicating early paddock divisions and hence estate organisation and early farm management), to its list of building sites. Another potential 19th century vineyard site is located across the northern quadrant of the original grant area that may be related to the Raymond period of ownership' (OPP 2016, p106).

'Beyond the group of surviving buildings and structures, the entire estate core (homestead and outbuilding surrounds) potentially holds evidence of a range of demolished structures dating from 1809 or 1810 through to the 1850s indicating a collective zone of exceptional research interest of relevance to NSW' (OPP 2016, p106).

'The Lot 4 area is also of interest archaeologically as this is likely to be an area where Townson conducted farming activities and the likeliest location for the 1827 race meeting as well as Justice Alfred Cheeke's racecourse. As both Cheeke (1860s to 1876) and James Raymond (1840s and 1850s) were avid horse breeders and trainers, Lot 4 - as Varro Ville's only relatively flat expanse - would have been the most logical place to exercise and train expensive racehorses' (OPP 2016, p106-107).

'The possibility of indigenous archaeology within the former Varro Ville estate - especially in the light of significant discoveries on the adjacent East Leppington site in recent years - should not be discounted though zones of potentially high sensitivity would be more limited through the extent and nature of disturbance from vineyard and dam construction' (OPP 2016, p107).

The former Varroville estate, in its entirety is of exceptional research significance at a State level.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Within the Varroville 'estate landscape are numerous elements that are individually rare and, as a collective, are particularly so. They are also vital to an understanding, and the interpretation, of Varro Ville as a major colonial farm estate in NSW' (OPP 2016, p107).

'Varro Ville's rare features include its vineyard trenching because of its unusually extensive area, its very early period, its unusual trenching patterns relative to the topography and its apparent dual function as a means of intercepting rainfall and runoff for water conservation (it is also potentially unique in an Australian context for the vineyard's apparent inspiration directly from ancient Roman writers); its evidence of a planned network of dams from the 1830s in an effort to maintain stock levels (and hence agricultural economic viability) in the face of unpredictable rainfall; its evidence of a desirable landscape park concept as part of the broader estate planning and betraying a familiarity with leading exponents (or, at least, populist versions) of such highly influential estate design from England; and its evidence of a thorough knowledge of classic European country villa planning and design on the part of William Weaver whose surviving scheme for Varro Ville represents an important example of a domestic rural design within his oeuvre and an important surviving Early Victorian country house in NSW' (OPP 2016, p107).

The former Varroville estate, in its entirety, is of exceptional rarity value at a State level.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
'Many of the features of the Varro Ville estate landscape identified in the previous significance criteria provide a basis for seeing the place as an excellent representative example of an early colonial estate within NSW; an estate where over 200 years of
agricultural history can be interpreted through its intact landscape and buildings; an estate where the integral relationship of an early Victorian-era country villa and its encompassing pastoral landscape can still be substantially appreciated through its
planning and design; a place where substantial evidence remains of an English landscape park adapted to Australia; an extensive example of an early colonial vineyard; and an example of early estate 'future proofing' through the implementation of water conservation strategies' (OPP 2016, p108).

The former Varroville estate, in its entirety, is of exceptional representative value at a State level.
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.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanCampbelltown LEP 2015I10520 Feb 17   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Colonial Landscapes of the Cumberland Plain and Camden, NSW2000 Morris, C., & Britton, G./NSW National Trust (for the Heritage Council of NSW)  Yes
Curtilage Study: Varro Ville2016 Orwell & Peter Phillips  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenFernando, Baez2008A universal history of the destruction of books

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

rez
(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: 5063550
File number: EF14/4535


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