Mw001 : Wynstay | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Mw001 : Wynstay

Item details

Name of item: Mw001 : Wynstay
Other name/s: Yarrawa
Primary address: 68-78 The Avenue, Mount Wilson, NSW 2786
Parish: Irvine
County: Cook
Local govt. area: Blue Mountains
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
68-78 The AvenueMount WilsonBlue Mountains IrvineCookPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

Criterion (a): Historical
Wynstay/Yarrawa is the only Mount Wilson property to have remained in the hands of the original family. It is also the earliest development of the mountain retreat, bought in 1870, with the first cottage of c.1871 still intact. The realisation of the aspirations of its merchant owner, Richard Wynne, was largely complete by the time of his death in 1896: an impressive boundary wall, a Gothick stable complex built in stone, two substantial weatherboard residences, an eye-catching extravagance of a Turkish Bath House and a distinctive hexagonal lodge, perched on the finest and highest site in Mount Wilson, all constituted the apotheosis of the hill-station. After a lull, Wynstay resumed its dominant position in the village under Richard Wynne’s grandson, Colonel Richard Wynne, with its heyday between the wars in the 1920s and 1930s, after the final residence, the two-storey stone mansion, was completed in 1923. The house, its contents, its gardens, its garden ornaments have all an uncommon degree of integrity as a result of remaining in single ownership for over 130 years. Wynstay is the jewel in the crown of Mount Wilson and is of the highest State significance.

Criterion (c): Aesthetic Significance
Wynstay is of unusually high aesthetic significance in containing a range of buildings in their modified natural setting showing the development of a mountain retreat over a period of over 100 years. All the buildings except the glasshouse can be considered of individual importance.

The original cottage is a rare intact example of a cottage providing minimal shelter but embellished with care in the Gothic style.

The stables and service block are a fine example of a Victorian Gothic service building constructed of local stone.

The Turkish Bathhouse is a remarkable example of a Victorian building embellished iron lacework and a handsome tower. The use of polychrome brickwork and stained glass to the windows give the bathhouse an unusual grandeur for what might otherwise be a utilitarian building.

Old Wynstay is a good example of a late nineteenth-century mountain retreat. It is of simple weatherboard construction embellished with interesting detailing. It is generous enough to provide comfortable shelter for the weekend or holiday occupant without the size and pretence of a city home.

The main house of Wynstay is of significance as a substantial and well executed example of a Colonial Revival residence. It has a well proportioned symmetrical front, well sited to take in views over the mountains towards the Hunter Valley. The greater size and higher quality of the house compared to the earlier accommodation on the property are evidence that the property was by then virtually a residence rather than a retreat.

The garden of Wynstay is of aesthetic significance at a state level for its combination of landmark setting within Mt Wilson, views to and from the estate, its hard elements such as the Goodlet and Smith urns and for its collection of fine mature trees, particularly individual specimens of conifers including Wellingtonia (Sequoiadendron wellingtonia), a fine specimen of Lawson Cypress (Chamaeocyparis lawsoniana) with a branching habit that has formed multiple trunks that result in a fantasy quality; Himalayan Spruce (Picea smithiana), Caucasian Fir (Abies nordmanniana), Blue Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica ‘glauca’) and Himalayan Cedar (Cedrus deodara). These are complemented with deciduous trees such as oak (Qurcus robur), Magnolia kobus, and by trees of brilliant autumn foliage including Copper Beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘purpurea’), Pink Dogwood (Cornus florida rubra) and Maples (Acer spp.)

It is of significance for its Picturesque/Gardenesque layout. This quality is particularly highlighted by crenellated stone walls and the placement of the Turkish Bath House part way along the drive with now mature planting that facilitates an orchestrated view of it, providing the garden with a unique Picturesque element.

Criterion (f): Rarity
There are few properties of this size which retain evidence of virtually all periods of development from the original one room cottage used when first developing the land to the grandeur of the main house built as a primary residence. That all bar one of the intermediate and associated buildings including Old Wynstay, the stables and service block and the gatehouse survive is quite remarkable.

The Turkish Bathhouse and the gatehouse are both rare surviving examples of these types of Victorian building.
Date significance updated: 28 Jun 04
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Construction years: 1871-1923
Physical description: Located on the highest land of the village, Wynstay retains a collection of buildings from the earliest period of settlement in the area to the early twentieth century reflecting the continuous use of the property by the family of Richard Wynne and later by his descendants, the Smart family. The buildings on the property include:

Original Cottage
Old Wynstay
Stables and Service Block
Wynstay (main house)
Turkish Bath
Glasshouse
Original Cottage
The original cottage is a vernacular two room cottage with an influence of the Gothic style in its steeply pitched gabled roof. It is entered through a small gabled porch at the north end. A chimney is located on the east side. The cottage is clad with weatherboards and the porch has walls finished with woven metal lattice. The roofing is corrugated steel. Windows are 6 over 6 pane double hung sashes. The floor is formed of hardwood sleepers laid on the ground. The sleepers have been notched to prevent their use on railway lines.

Stables and Service Block
The stable block at Wynstay is a handsome example of the rustic gothic style adapted for an outbuilding. It has crenellated parapet walls of sandstone partly hiding skillion roofs of corrugated steel. The sandstone is random coursed except at the openings where it is dressed. On the south side of the building, a lintel is inscribed with the words MOUNT WILSON FOUNDED 1875. Some of the original framed and sheeted doors survive. The U shaped plan of the building forms a courtyard on the north side, facing the main garden and houses of Wynstay.

Old Wynstay
Old Wynstay is a late Victorian house with a hipped roof returned at the ends to form gables facing the rear of the house. A skillion verandah wraps around the front and sides of the house and has been partly infilled. The house is clad with weatherboards and a corrugated steel roof. The verandah is framed with timber posts with a rectangular section and trimmed with cast iron lace. The entry to the verandah is marked with a pointed arch formed by timber brackets and infilled with timber lattice. Half glazed doors with toplights open to the verandah alongside 2 over 2 pane double hung windows.

Turkish Bathhouse
The Turkish Bathhouse is a remarkable late Victorian building of one and a half storeys. A basement is formed by the fall of the land and is believed to have housed the plant for the baths. The building is rectangular in plan with a tower at the north end. The hipped roof has crenellated ridging and arched vents. The tower roof has a convex curve. Polychrome brickwork is used throughout and engaged piers divide the long sides of the bathhouse into bays. Stained glass windows are used in the arched openings. Protective glass has been used in secondary external sashes.

Gatehouse
The gatehouse is an octagonal building with a hipped roof and central chimney. It is located at the formal entry to the property where it can be seen from The Avenue.

Wynstay (Main House)
The main house of Wynstay is easily the most impressive of the three dwellings on the property. It is a two storey sandstone residence with a hipped slate roof in the Inter-war Colonial Revival style. The front of the house is symmetrical and faces north to take in views over the mountains to the Hunter Valley. Two side wings flank the entry porch. The entry door is sic paneled and retains its original hardware along with the architraves and patera. Paired sandstone columns frame the porch, changing to pilasters where they meet the end bays. The front windows are 6 over 6 pane double hung sashes and have 3 (uneven) paneled shutters. On the east side of the house is a semi-basement. The house has brick chimneys.

Glasshouse
The glasshouse dates from the 1970s and has a vaulted roof of acrylic material over a red brick base.

The gardens
The gardens have evolved from the time of the original Richard Wynne around the series of houses on the property. The grounds of Wynstay on its western side are bounded by extensive crenellated stone walling in a style that matches the stables building. The garden is distinct from the surrounding farm landscape, which includes stands of tree ferns in grassed paddocks and groups of Pinus radiata and Pinus ponderosa on the garden’s edge. The main stone gateposts and decorative wrought iron gates stand beside the gatelodge and mark the former entrance to the carriage drive. The line of the drive continues along a terrace formed with rubble walling and the margin of the drive is planted with large, imposing Monterey Cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa). The placement of the Turkish Bath House part way along the drive and the now mature planting that facilitates an orchestrated view of it provides the garden with a unique Picturesque element.

The garden was laid out in a Picturesque/Gardenesque style primarily to the east of the late nineteenth century weatherboard house known as ‘Old Wynstay’ and surviving old shrubs from the early period of the garden include azaleas, Cordyline australis, Hydrangea hortensis, Magnolia stellata, Ilex aquifolium, Camellia, Buddleja , Deutzia and Laburnum. There are specimens of Magnolia grandiflora and Magnolia soulangeana near Old Wynstay and species such as Irish Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo) contribute to the nineteenth century planting palette of the garden. There are two very fine urns made by Goodlet and Smith which featured in their 1982 catalogue. Following its destruction by fire, the site of an old dwelling ‘Yarrawa’ was transformed into a paved garden space and there is another walled garden compartment, overgrown at the time of inspection, based on the remnants of an old conservatory. The 1923 house was built on the northern edge of the garden and addressed the sublime view, not a universally attractive feature for nineteenth century tastes, to the north.

The garden contains a number of fine specimens of mature conifers that provide the garden with an imposing atmosphere and contribute to its landmark quality at the top of The Avenue. These include Wellingtonia (Sequoiadendron wellingtonia), a fine specimen of Lawson Cypress (Chamaeocyparis lawsoniana) with a branching habit that has formed multiple trunks that result in a fantasy quality; Himalayan Spruce (Picea smithiana), Caucasian Fir (Abies nordmanniana), Blue Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica ‘glauca’) and Himalayan Cedar (Cedrus deodara). These are complemented with deciduous trees such as oak (Qurcus robur), Magnolia kobus, and by trees of brilliant autumn foliage including Copper Beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘purpurea’), Pink Dogwood (Cornus florida rubra) and Maples (Acer spp.)
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Original Cottage: Poor
Stables: Reasonable
Old Wynstay: Poor
Turkish Bathhouse: Good
Gatehouse: Fair
Wynstay: Good
Glasshouse: Good
Date condition updated:28 Jun 04
Further information: There are few properties of this size which retain evidence of virtually all periods of development from the original one room cottage used when first developing the land to the grandeur of the main house built as a primary residence. That all bar one of the intermediate and associated buildings including Old Wynstay, the stables and service block and the gatehouse survive is quite remarkable.

The Turkish Bathhouse and the gatehouse are both rare surviving examples of these types of Victorian building.
Current use: Private Home
Former use: Private Home

History

Historical notes: Richard Wynne, despite his Welsh name, came to Australia via Ireland and established himself as a supplier of building materials with premises in Pitt Street. He made a substantial fortune, built a mansion called Wynstay on Liverpool Road, Enfield and, when Burwood became a Municipality in 1874, was elected its first Mayor. He married Mary Anne, the daughter of an Italian immigrant, Emanuel Neich, who had come to New South Wales in 1826 and ran The Bath Arms in Burwood from 1834 until his death in 1893 (James, Fraser & Mack, 'Mount Wilson', 9; Dunlop, Harvest of the Years: the Story of Burwood, 20).

According to Kirk family tradition, Wynne was introduced to Mount Wilson as early as 1867 by Robert Kirk and Eccleston du Faur, a year before the first survey was accomplished by Edward Wyndham, and when in 1870 the 62 allotments defined by Wyndham were offered for sale by the crown, Wynne was one of the earliest purchasers. His initial purchases, all made on 26 April 1870 remain the core of the estate today, allotments 36, 37 and 39, where the major heritage buildings are sited on one of the highest eminences in the village. (LPI, Vol.250 fos.157,158,159)

Probably around 1871, Wynne built his first cottage, with only two rooms but a deal of style. He used as flooring yellow-gum sleepers which he claimed had been illegally cut from his woods by Robert Kirk's railway gang: Wynne had axe-notches cut into each sleeper so that the railway would reject them and the notches are still clearly evident on the cottage floor. This cottage, which does not seem to have had a name, is the earliest building on Mount Wilson and one of the most emotive. The cottage is weatherboard; the bricks used for the circular base of a copper near the door were not made locally, whereas by 1890 Wynne was manufacturing his own bricks on the property.

To enable him to bring his family to his hill-station, Wynne built a larger house in 1875 and called it Yarrawa, an Aboriginal word for one of the three types of tree-fern on the basalt cap. This cottage, which burnt down in 1906, was located 150 metres above the original cottage where there is now a basalt-flagged area surrounded by a low circular brick wall built by the grandmother of the present owner, Miss Wendy Smart. W.H. Suttor of Brucedale near Bathurst visited Wynne there in 1886 and described it in his book Australian Stories Retold.

A gentleman, who now owns the loveliest spot on the mountain,
was in search of a place to erect a mountain residence. Who ever
has had the pleasure of visiting Mr Wynne’s place and looking at
the view from his verandah, will not begrudge him the reward of
the adventure. (Suttor, 171)

Wynne continued to take an increasing interest in Mount Wilson and in 1890 embarked on a grandiose building scheme at Yarrawa. A basalt wall was built prominently on the southern perimeter, with sandstone machicolations drawn from a quarry near Du Faurs Rocks. The masons were Jack Rowland and Con Friel, who are said to have lived in Mount Wilson but do not appear in the 1891 Census. (Information from Bill Smart and Tom Kirk, 1989; Census sub South Kurrajong, SRNSW Reel 2517).

Forming part of the perimeter wall, a castellated basalt stable and services block was erected in 1890 in the shape of a U, also by Rowland and Friel. As well as stalls for four horses there was a milking bail and three feeding bails for Wynne’s cows, Daisy, Primrose, Beauty and Cowslip, whose names are immortalized above their bails. The milch cows were important in the isolation of Mount Wilson and Wynne’s painted notice on the partition wall survives, enjoining us to ‘Treat your cow as you would any lady’.

As well as vehicle and general storage and a large hay-shed, the stable block contained machinery driven by a surviving horse-works outside the walls. The line-drive from the horse-works passed through an opening in the stable wall and drove a chaff-cutter directly and by belt drive near the ceiling also drove a pump to bring water from the large, brick-domed cistern adjacent to the horse-works. The bricks for the cistern dome were manufactured locally. (Information from Bill Smart and Tom Kirk)

The stable bears the date ‘1890’ on its keystone, under the ceramic horse’s head attributed to Doulton. The lintel of the outside door, however, has an inscription ‘Mount Wilson Founded 1875’ which is hard to explain except in terms of the building of Yarrawa, the first family retreat in the village.

By the same year 1890, Richard Wynne had erected the expensive and spectacular Turkish Bath House, designed by Ernest Bonney, a Sydney architect, using locally produced bricks, and around 1893 the hexagonal gatehouse with a central chimney reminiscent of the distinctive square houses for level-crossing keepers on the railway at this time was built to accommodate the caretaker.

It seems also that Wynne built a substitute for Yarrawa around this time, for in the 1893 inventory of the estate there is also a house called Wynstay. This must be the surviving weatherboard cottage, known as Old Wynstay which was the principal residence on the estate until 1923. The date of 1906 sometimes given for Old Wynstay relies on the premise that it was built to replace Yarrawa when Yarrawa burnt down and ignores the evidence of the inventory.

In naming the new cottage Wynstay, Richard Wynne cannot have been unaware of the great Welsh house of Wynnstay, rebuilt by the Wynne family in Denbighshire after an earlier mansion had been destroyed by fire in 1858. In the majesty of its views, high above the valley of the River Dee, surrounded with famous gardens, Wynnstay has for centuries been one of the sights of North Wales. Richard Wynne’s Enfield mansion called Wynstay lacked the situation of the Welsh prototype: Mount Wilson gave the opportunity to emulate Sir Watkins Wynne. The relationship between Richard Wynne and the Denbighshire family remains obscure. (Jones, Archaeologia Cambrensis, 95, 1940, 48-9)

Richard Wynne died in 1896. He was survived by his wife, Mary Anne, and their only son, Henry. Henry was an alcoholic and his father had put the property in the hands of the Perpetual Trustee Co. in trust for Henry’s only son, Richard Owen Wynne, while preserving his widow’s interests. It is likely that the widowed Mary Anne lived off and on at [Old] Wynstay, while Henry and perhaps his wife and son occupied Yarrawa, where he died at the age of 38 only two years after his father in 1898. In the following year, Yarrawa burnt down when soap-making turned into a disaster, and [Old] Wynstay became the only residence on the property for the family. (information from Bill Smart and Tom Kirk; Our Past Blue Mountaineers, I 10)

The widowed Mrs Wynne lived on until 1913. Richard Owen Wynne, her heir, was a university student in England, where he graduated in 1914, and then served as a Major in World War I: he did not come to Mount Wilson until 1919. He quickly decided to build a new mansion taking advantage of the view to the north (more dramatic than the view from Yarrawa which Suttor had admired in 1886). To get the stone, Major Wynne opened a quarry down by Waterfall Creek and to mill the timber he encouraged Syd and Albert Kirk to build a sawmill down in the same gully (which still survives in ruins). In 1922 Scottish stonemasons came to Mount Wilson, were accommodated in the now disused Turkish Bath House, and the designs prepared by the Sydney architects, Joseland & Gilling, for the new Wynstay were translated into reality in 1923.

After the completion of the new mansion, Old Wynstay was used in the late 1920s and early 1930s as a residence for the Wynne governess, Dorothea Moore, where she educated the children of the Wynnes, Gregsons of Wyndham (MW 033) and Valders of Nooroo (MW 016). Bacon continued to be cured in the house, in the old bathroom adjacent to the improvised schoolroom, and the school-children, inspired by Fred Mann, the craft potter at Yengo, fired their own pots in a kiln just below the schoolroom. (Warliker, A Mount Wilson Childhood, 48-9).

Richard Wynne, now Colonel Wynne, had married Florence Mariamne Ronald in England in 1919: they lived primarily at Wynstay with their two sons, Mervyn and Ronald, and a daughter, Jane Mariamne, until they returned to England for a time in 1934 to stay with Mrs Wynne’s family (Warliker, 22, 49; Our Past Blue Mountaineers, I 18). Wynstay in the 1920s and early 1930s had all the accoutrements of an English country house: butler, cook, nanny, gardener and governess, all, of course, resident, while the Davieses lived in the hexagonal lodge. Colonel Wynne’s World War I batman, Matthew Davies, had come to Australia with the Wynnes and was butler, while his wife Florence was cook: Colonel Wynne assisted the couple to build their own house, Woodstock (MW 008), where they ran a boarding-house after they left Wynne employ in the 1920s. (Warliker, 22-3)

Colonel Wynne died in 1967, his widow two years later. After a division of the assets among the three children, the daughter Jane, who had married Bill Smart, inherited Wynstay. Jane died in 1995, her husband in 1999 and they are buried, like Jane’s parents, in Mount Wilson Anglican cemetery. The Smarts had two daughters, one of whom, Miss Wendy Smart, now occupies Wynstay. It is the only property on Mount Wilson which is still owned and occupied by the original family.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
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 (none)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation (none)-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Wynstay/Yarrawa is the only Mount Wilson property to have remained in the hands of the original family. It is also the earliest development of the mountain retreat, bought in 1870, with the first cottage of c.1871 still intact. The realisation of the aspirations of its merchant owner, Richard Wynne, was largely complete by the time of his death in 1896: an impressive boundary wall, a Gothick stable complex built in stone, two substantial weatherboard residences, an eye-catching extravagance of a Turkish Bath House and a distinctive hexagonal lodge, perched on the finest and highest site in Mount Wilson, all constituted the apotheosis of the hill-station. After a lull, Wynstay resumed its dominant position in the village under Richard Wynne’s grandson, Colonel Richard Wynne, with its heyday between the wars in the 1920s and 1930s, after the final residence, the two-storey stone mansion, was completed in 1923. The house, its contents, its gardens, its garden ornaments have all an uncommon degree of integrity as a result of remaining in single ownership for over 130 years. Wynstay is the jewel in the crown of Mount Wilson and is of the highest State significance.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Wynstay is of unusually high aesthetic significance in containing a range of buildings in their modified natural setting showing the development of a mountain retreat over a period of over 100 years. All the buildings except the glasshouse can be considered of individual importance.

The original cottage is a rare intact example of a cottage providing minimal shelter but embellished with care in the Gothic style.

The stables and service block are a fine example of a Victorian Gothic service building constructed of local stone.

The Turkish Bathhouse is a remarkable example of a Victorian building embellished iron lacework and a handsome tower. The use of polychrome brickwork and stained glass to the windows give the bathhouse an unusual grandeur for what might otherwise be a utilitarian building.

Old Wynstay is a good example of a late nineteenth-century mountain retreat. It is of simple weatherboard construction embellished with interesting detailing. It is generous enough to provide comfortable shelter for the weekend or holiday occupant without the size and pretence of a city home.

The main house of Wynstay is of significance as a substantial and well executed example of a Colonial Revival residence. It has a well proportioned symmetrical front, well sited to take in views over the mountains towards the Hunter Valley. The greater size and higher quality of the house compared to the earlier accommodation on the property are evidence that the property was by then virtually a residence rather than a retreat.

The garden of Wynstay is of aesthetic significance at a state level for its combination of landmark setting within Mt Wilson, views to and from the estate, its hard elements such as the Goodlet and Smith urns and for its collection of fine mature trees, particularly individual specimens of conifers including Wellingtonia (Sequoiadendron wellingtonia), a fine specimen of Lawson Cypress (Chamaeocyparis lawsoniana) with a branching habit that has formed multiple trunks that result in a fantasy quality; Himalayan Spruce (Picea smithiana), Caucasian Fir (Abies nordmanniana), Blue Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica ‘glauca’) and Himalayan Cedar (Cedrus deodara). These are complemented with deciduous trees such as oak (Qurcus robur), Magnolia kobus, and by trees of brilliant autumn foliage including Copper Beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘purpurea’), Pink Dogwood (Cornus florida rubra) and Maples (Acer spp.)

It is of significance for its Picturesque/Gardenesque layout. This quality is particularly highlighted by crenellated stone walls and the placement of the Turkish Bath House part way along the drive with now mature planting that facilitates an orchestrated view of it, providing the garden with a unique Picturesque element.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
See Further comments
Integrity/Intactness: High
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 PlanLocal Environmental Plan1991MW00127 Dec 91 183 
Heritage study MW001   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Blue Mountains Heritage Review2003MW001Jack, Hubert, Lavelle, MorrisRIJ, PH, CM, SL Yes
Technical Audit BM Heritage Register2008MW001Blue Mountains City CouncilCity Planning Branch No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 18911891 Census under South Kurrajong
Oral HistoryBill Smart, owner of Wynstay1989Interview with Ian Jack
WrittenBlue Mountains Family History Society1990Our Past Blue Mountaineers, Volume 1
WrittenHelen Warliker1990A Mount Wilson Childhood
WrittenHugh Fraser, Bruce James and Alexis Mack1969Settlement of Mount Wilson
WrittenJones1940The Wynnes and Wynnstay, in Archaeologia Cambrensis, 95
Oral HistoryTom Kirk1989Interview with Ian Jack
WrittenW H Suttor1886Australian Stories Retold

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

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 1170575


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