The property consists of a complex of buildings (main homestead and complex of outbuildings associated with the former dairy) in a garden set on a northern slope, with the farm buildings along the ridge line (LEP, 2010).
The property was originally accessed from West Dapto Road to the north, over Robins Creek. Early natural round gate posts identify the entry point to the front yard. A line of fig trees identifies the earliest approach to the property while a later alignment was angled slightly to the west and is likely to date to the use of the creamery as a cheese factory. The house and garden are surrounded by a Tecoma hedge. Other typical 19th century plantings in the garden include a Bunya Bunya Pine and a row of five Morton Bay Fig Trees (now in separate ownership).
The access road was changed to a drive from Bong Bong road to the south. Bong Bong road was proposed in 1861 and an aerial photograph taken in 1948 shows an overgrown, disused track from the north with an older track branched off along the row of fig trees and a clear track in use from Bong Bong Road, entering the homestead along the alignment that is still in use today, adjacent to the west of the stable.
The garden is surrounded by a Cape honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis) hedge. Other typical 19th century plantings in the garden include a Bunya Bunya pine (Araucaria bidwillii) and a row of five Morton Bay fig trees (Ficus macrophylla) which are now in separate ownership)(LEP, 2010).
'Horsley' is the main building of a group of early Victorian structures on the dairy farm. It house faces north over Robins Creek with Mount Kembla in the distance (LEP, 2010).
It is a Georgian style building built from lime-washed brick on stone footings with a slate hipped roof (LEP, 2010). It was built in two main stages; Initially c.1842, there was a central hall with two rooms either side. The interior has cedar joinery throughout.
The house was made entirely of mud bricks from the property and the woodwork, including roof battens, is of red cedar. The front elevation very clearly resembled 'Horsley Park', Smithfield (Fairfield, Sydney), which was also a property of William Frederick Weston. The original house had 4 rooms with a central hall, while side wings were added shortly after. The front door is 4 panelled with a fanlight.
The roof is hipped with a gabled roof at each end tiled in slate. Some stone paving remains on the verandah floor.
This was extended by the addition of rooms along the east and west. The back and front verandahs were used to access the later rooms.
Outbuildings and structures:
A brick fireplace is situated to the west of the homestead adjacent a section of intact post and rail fencing." (West Dapto Study, 2006).
Behind the house there is a detached, random rubble kitchen with opposing doors in the southern and northern walls. The interior has a maids room , stone floor and a large open fireplace. It is possible that the kitchen predates the house as the first cottage. Slate roof.
Dairy / Creamery (1842);
There is also a detached dairy (creamery) adjacent to the west of the house constructed from bricks similar to those used in the house. The dairy was converted to a cheese and butter factory in c.1880 using beaded timber partitions. The Dairy has a slate roof. A later addition joins the creamery and homestead.
The farm buildings form a row. The eastern most building is the random rubble stable which retains timber stalls and stone floor. The original slate roof has been replaced with corrugated iron. The loft was used as a corn store.
Across the driveway is a timber framed, corrugated iron milking shed with the bails removed and a chaff cutting area. This is adjacent to a silo.
Early (1909) reinforced concrete silo which has a replacement hexagonal timber roof (LEP, 2010).
'The Silo is about 5 m in diameter and 6.6 m high, and has a pyramidal timber framed roof. The concrete appears to have been made of a mixture of sand and hydraulic lime, without coarse aggregate. The reinforcement comprises vertical wrought iron tees about 600 mm apart and flat wrought iron wires. The whole was then covered in mortar-like concrete about 140 mm thick and the inside and outside surfaces were additionally rendered with a similar mixture. Though it was clearly built by amateurs, this structure was a very early rural example of a new technology. it has suffered badly from what today is called concrete cancer." (Robert Irving, 20th Century Architecture in Wollongong, p. 34).
The western most building is a large cow shed built using natural round posts and rails to form two rows of stalls with a central aisle. This is the only local example of a cow shed where the cows were tethered using traditional fixtures.
Other outbuildings include a stable and coach house, former kitchen and maid's room, barn and blacksmith's shed. A small weatherboard shop (1916) is located on site, relocated from Albion Park.
c.1818 - Site was occupied. The stone rubble kitchen may be an earlier cottage from the establishment phase.
c.1842 or earlier - central hall and 4 rooms. Dairy (creamery); Horsley butter fetched 4 shillings / pound in Sydney in 1850’s; Stables
c.1872 Eastern and western rooms of house added.
1880 - Dairy (creamery) used as cheese factory, access track from north is likely to have still been in use.
1909 - reinforced concrete silo, early for district; ( Alne Bank, Gerringong 1908)
date of milking bail shed / chaff cutting shed, cow shed is unknown, likely to relate to silo.
1971 - cheese and butter making tools donated to Illawarra Historical Society Museum.
c 1980 -Hazeltons Grocery Hardware and Haberdashery shop was moved to Horsley from Albion Park; public WC built; silo re-roofed.
Early/mid 1980’s room built between house & dairy, retained dairy as separate building.
The original 500 acre property has been subdivided multiple times. However the remaining 2.071 hectares contains the original farm buildings and significant landscape elements. The buildings have been well maintained.
William Frances Weston, his wife Elizabeth and son John were amongst the first free settlers in the Illawarra when they took up the 500 acres in 1818. This land was given to them by Governor Macquarie as a 'promise' grant ie - yet to be ratified by King George III.
1826 - W F Weston, aged 33, died at West Horsley Place, which he named after his home in Surrey, leaving his wife and 5 children.
1828 - Census records Elizabeth Weston, widow, 5 children, 500 acres, 40 acres cleared, 25 acres cultivated, 35 horned cattle.
1829 - Neighbour Lt. Molle, complained of bushrangers in the Weston area.
1830 - Elizabeth Weston married a convict, Thomas Williamson.
1841 Census records Williamsons at Horsley and Elizabeth Weston as landlady to 21 tenants.
The farm had become a small village with 84 people in 21 slab houses, some were free, others were convicts.
13.1.1842 - Governor Gipps ratified the promised grant of 1818. It was bequeathed to William and Elizabeth Weston's daughters, Elizabeth and Augusta.
pre 1842 - the first section of the house was built, four rooms and central hall.
1843 - Elizabeth married Andrew Thompson and Horsley became their home.
1866 - John Lindsay bought West Horsley Place from Augusta ,wife of Richard Brooks and the rest of the property soon after. West Horsley Place was renamed Horsley. John's son George Lindsay operated as a dairy farm with a high quality Ayrshire herd. George was a successful exhibitor at the local and Sydney Agricultural Shows. George also purchased a butchery business with three shops, and a piggery for his son John Hessel Lindsay who became a partner in the Illawarra Meat Company.
1947 - George Lindsay died aged 91, and his son Arthur Lindsay inherited the property.
October 1968 - Ron and Judy Holloway bought 27 acres with Horsley homestead from Arthur Lindsay.
1972 - The land was sold to developers, and Horsley, with 2.59 hectares (5.7 acres) was bought by Mr and Mrs C. Neaves for restoration and exhibition. Marlene Neaves set up a Museum at Horsley and conducted tours there until at least 1985. A building called the 'Old Albion Park Store' was relocated onto Horsley's site as part of this museum (Joel Thompson, pers.comm., 4/2/13).
1985/6 - Peter and Prue Fyfe purchased and lived at Horsley and operated a venue for occasions such as wedding receptions. Prue also had a wholesale/retail business in Thai imports.
28/11/1992 - Dr and Mrs Robert Pescud bought Horsley with 2.071 hectares (4.5 acres) as a private home.