Mw015 : Dennarque | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Mw015 : Dennarque

Item details

Name of item: Mw015 : Dennarque
Other name/s: Wildflower Hall
Primary address: 28-30 Church Lane, Mount Wilson, NSW 2786
Parish: Irvine
County: Cook
Local govt. area: Blue Mountains
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
28-30 Church LaneMount WilsonBlue Mountains IrvineCookPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

Criterion (a) Historical

Dennarque is the most substantial of the founding eight residences at Mount Wilson and one of the two built of stone. Its creator was a man of significance in the administration of the colony and in the management of a great pastoral company. He brought other men of distinction such as his successor at the Australian Agricultural Company, Jesse Gregson, to build in the hill-station, and Gregson’s Yengo was the only other stone house in the nineteenth century.

Subsequent occupiers of the house included the prominent artist, Mary Edwards, who, with her mother, ran it as a guest-house called Wildflower Hall in the 1930s, attracting a variety of people to the village.


The house and grounds have preserved a fair degree of integrity, although the house is in process of renovation under new owners in 2003-4. The importance of the house, designed by James Reuss junior, and constructed by James Nutman, is primarily in its prominent position among the earliest homes and the importance of Edward Merewether. It is of high State significance.

Criterion (b) Associations

Dennarque is one of two houses in Mount Wilson designed by the important nineteenth century surveyor, Ferdinand Reuss, the other being Yengo.

With the demolition of his Sydney residence Castlefield around 1911, Dennarque is the only surviving residence of Edward Merewether from the time he lived in Sydney (c.1875-1893)


Criterion (c) Aesthetic

Dennarque is a fine and substantially intact example of a Victorian Georgian residence for a large and wealthy family. It presents a well proportioned and strictly symmetrical front characteristic of the Georgian style and is well crafted of locally quarried sandstone complemented by polished cedar joinery.

Criterion (g) Rarity

While building retreats in the Blue Mountains is an important theme in the development of the district, many were relatively modest abodes. Dennarque is one of a small number of substantial late Victorian summer residences built in the Blue Mountains and it has survived to the present day relatively intact.
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

Designer/Maker: Ferdinand Reuss, Junior
Builder/Maker: James Nutman
Construction years: 1877-1880
Physical description: Dennarque is a substantial late Victorian Georgian home facing south where it once took in substantial views across the Grose Valley. It is a two storey house of margined rockfaced sandstone with a hipped roof of slate and sandstone chimneys with scotia cornices. The symmetrical front is dressed with a two-storey verandah. A rear wing on the east side is of two storeys. The original service wing was on the west side and was single storey.

Two pairs of French doors open to the verandah either side of the central 4 panelled door which has a toplight and sidelights. Double hung windows are used in the side elevations.

At the rear of the east wing are coach doors in arched openings.

The grounds contain a large number of highly significant plantings, with separate garden areas of high significance.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good
Date condition updated:28 Jun 04
Modifications and dates: Verandah rebuilt with cast iron in lieu of timber.

C1980s additions including sunroom on west side, pergola on west side, second storey weatherboard addition to east wing and gazebo in rear garden. Designed by Howard Tanner.

Further internal modifications in progress 2003-4, including the installation of a lift.
Further information: While building retreats in the Blue Mountains is an important theme in the development of the district, many were relatively modest abodes. Dennarque is one of a small number of substantial late Victorian summer residences built in the Blue Mountains and it has survived to the present day relatively intact.
Current use: Private Home
Former use: Private Home, Guesthouse

History

Historical notes: Edward Christopher Merewether was born into a prominent legal and military family in England and came to New South Wales in 1838. He was aide-de camp to Governors Gipps and Fitz Roy in the early 1840s. He became a Commissioner for Crown Lands beyond the nineteen counties, then Clerk of the Executive Council from 1856 until 1861. In 1860 he had married well: his wife was Augusta Maria Scott, the sister of David Scott Mitchell of the Mitchell Library, and the daughter of Dr James Mitchell, the coal magnate in Newcastle.

Simultaneously Merewether was offered the post of General Superintendent of the great Australian Agricultural Company which controlled so much land in the northern part of the state from its headquarters around Port Stephens. Merewether held this significant position from 1861 until 1875. He lived throughout this decade and a half in Newcastle on Dr Mitchell's estate, in what is now the suburb of Merewether. When his father-in-law died in 1869, Merewether and David Scott Mitchell were joint trustees for his considerable assets. (Currey, 54-7)

Newcastle is no cooler in summer than Sydney and Merewether, his wife and their children often migrated to the Blue Mountain Inn at Lawson. In 1876, having just retired from the AA Company, Merewether decided to look at land at Mount Wilson, intending to build on 8 or 10 acres, 'erecting a small cottage'. Though a buggy met them at the railway station, it could only manage their swags and the three Merewethers walked all the way. They inspected some blocks, already sold but available for resale: in a letter, Merewether noted that 'it will however cost from £15 to £20 per acre to clear it of the big Timber and undergrowth leaving all the Tree Ferns’. He proceeded to buy what is now Silva Plana reserve, where he built a small cottage. He bought also in poorly documented circumstances lot 27, at the extreme north-west edge of Mount Wilson as Surveyor Wyndham had defined it in 1869. By the beginning of 1877 he had decided to build a stone house on the ridge site if the cost did not exceed £1200. (Newcastle Public Library, Box A/A/1876-1880)

The architect for the stone house was Ferdinand Reuss junior, of Sydney, who started work in 1877 and published a plan and elevation in 1878. (Castner’s Monthly and Rural Australian, August 1878, 198; September 1878, 226). The contractor was James Nutman, also of Sydney. The stone was quarried nearby. The name Dennarque was chosen after discussion with Aboriginal people, who taught Merewether the proper pronunciation: it meant one of the three kinds of tree ferns which were so cardinal a feature of Mount Wilson. A huge underground water cistern was well underway and the garden was taking shape by March 1879. By the end of 1880 the two-storey house was habitable, the carpets laid and the furniture put ‘into something like order’. (James, Fraser & Mack, 19-20; Newcastle PL, Box A/A 1876-1880)

The Merewethers and their ten children were regular summer residents over the next thirteen years and they formed a significant part of the small group of founding householders. Merewether entered into local affairs: along with Sir Matthew Stephen of Campanella (MW 003) and George Henry Cox of Beowang (MW 017), he was a petitioner for the establishment of a public school at Mount Wilson in 1890. But Merewether died in 1893 and the family sold Dennarque.

The new owner was James Elliott Mann, who bought Dennarque in 1894 His son, Frederick Mann, served in World War I, and was prominent with other former soldiers, such as Richard Wynne, in having the community post office built in The Avenue (MW 005).

The Manns leased Dennarque in the 1930s to the artist Mary Edwards and her mother, who ran the house as a guest-house called Wildflower Hall to support Mary’s art. She painted a number of local scenes and local figures such as Cecil Kirk. She is also remembered as the person who challenged the eligibility of Dobell’s portrait of Joshua Smith in the Archibald Prize competition. Mary Edwards left Wildflower Hall in the later 1930s and the house reverted to its original name, with a sequence of owners. (Warliker, 31)

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)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Dennarque is the most substantial of the founding eight residences at Mount Wilson and one of the two built of stone. Its creator was a man of significance in the administration of the colony and in the management of a great pastoral company. He brought other men of distinction such as his successor at the Australian Agricultural Company, Jesse Gregson, to build in the hill-station, and Gregson’s Yengo was the only other stone house in the nineteenth century.

Subsequent occupiers of the house included the prominent artist, Mary Edwards, who, with her mother, ran it as a guest-house called Wildflower Hall in the 1930s, attracting a variety of people to the village.


The house and grounds have preserved a fair degree of integrity, although the house is in process of renovation under new owners in 2003-4. The importance of the house, designed by James Reuss junior, and constructed by James Nutman, is primarily in its prominent position among the earliest homes and the importance of Edward Merewether. It is of high State significance.

Dennarque is one of two houses in Mount Wilson designed by the important nineteenth century surveyor, Ferdinand Reuss, the other being Yengo.

With the demolition of his Sydney residence Castlefield around 1911, Dennarque is the only surviving residence of Edward Merewether from the time he lived in Sydney (c.1875-1893)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Dennarque is a fine and substantially intact example of a Victorian Georgian residence for a large and wealthy family. It presents a well proportioned and strictly symmetrical front characteristic of the Georgian style and is well crafted of locally quarried sandstone complemented by polished cedar joinery.
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 Plan1991MW01527 Dec 91 183 
Heritage study MW015   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Blue Mountains Heritage Study1983MW015Croft & Associates Pty Ltd & Meredith Walker  Yes
Heritage Study Review, Blue Mountains1992MW015Tropman and Tropman  Yes
Blue Mountains Heritage Review2003MW015Jack, Hubert, Lavelle, MorrisRIJ, PH, CM, SL Yes
Technical Audit BM Heritage Register2008MW015Blue Mountains City CouncilCity Planning Branch No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 1880Merewether Papers, 1876 to
Written 1878Castner's Monthly and Rural Australian
WrittenC H Currey1968Mount Wilson, NSW: Its location, settlement and development
WrittenHelen Warliker1990A Mount Wilson Childhood
WrittenHugh Fraser, Bruce James and Alexis Mack1969The settlement of Mount Wilson

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: 1170578


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