Mw017 : Withycombe | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Heritage

Mw017 : Withycombe

Item details

Name of item: Mw017 : Withycombe
Other name/s: Beowang
Primary address: 1-9 Church Lane, Mount Wilson, NSW 2786
Parish: Irvine
County: Cook
Local govt. area: Blue Mountains
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
1-9 Church LaneMount WilsonBlue Mountains IrvineCookPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

Criterion (a) Historical
Beowang/Withycombe is one of the foundation houses of Mount Wilson, associated with the Cox family and used as a staging post between their metropolitan interests and their estates in the central west. George Henry Cox was a prominent figure in New South Wales political and pastoral life throughout the late Victorian period. The association of the property with the White family of Belltrees and the young Patrick White is also of state significance.

Criterion (c) Aesthetic
Withycombe is a good example of a substantial mountain residence with influences of the Victorian filigree style. It is unusual in combining corrugated steel roofing with terracotta ridging.

The magnificent Spanish oak on the front lawn has high aesthetic appeal. The spacious grounds have evolved over Cox and White ownership to contain areas of formality which contrast significantly with the broad vistas elsewhere.
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

Builder/Maker: James Nutman
Construction years: 1878-1880
Physical description: Close to the Church Lane boundary of the extensive site, Withycombe is a substantial single-storey Late Victorian filigree house. To its northwest is a single storey cottage and further away is a group of gabled sheds, one of which once served as the village’s post office. The base of a semi-sunken glasshouse is also in the grounds.


The main house is a single storey multi-gabled house in the late Victorian filigree style facing south, away from Church Lane. The south side of the house has an unusually broad verandah with stop chamfered posts and reproduction fretwork brackets. Bullseye vents are used in the front gables.

The roof of the house is of corrugated steel with terracotta ridging on the roof of the front wing. The cladding is a mixture of beaded and splayed weatherboards with pressed metal cladding in both rockfaced stone and spatterdash patterns being used. The footings are rendered with roughcast.

The front door is half-glazed and has sidelights. It is flanked by bay windows with casement sashes and toplights. The casements have vertical proportions, possibly due to the removal of glazing bars.


Cottage
The cottage is a simple gabled cottage of splayed weatherboards with a corrugated steel roof. Skillion verandahs are on the front and back of the cottage. New openings have been formed in the front of the cottage
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good
Date condition updated:28 Jun 04
Current use: Private Home
Former use: Private Home

History

Historical notes: Three grandchildren of William Cox, the Windsor entrepreneur, soldier, magistrate, builder and farmer who was responsible for the first road over the Blue Mountains in 1814, bought land in Mount Wilson and built houses by 1880. Lot 31 was purchased by George Henry Cox. Born in 1824, George Henry Cox inherited his father's fine estate of Winbourne in the Mulgoa valley near Penrith, but also established a famous sheep property at Mudgee, where he built Burrundulla homestead. Although much of the Burrundulla estate was leased among some thirty tenant farmers, George Henry travelled a good deal between Winbourne (where he principally resided) and his Mudgee sheep-runs. Because of his participation in the affairs of the Mudgee area, he was the first mayor of the Municipality of Cudgegong and therefore the first rural mayor in New South Wales under the Municipalities Act. He was also a parliamentarian from 1867 onwards, first for Wellington, then as a member of the Legislative Council. (Australian Men of Mark, I 18-20)

After an extensive world tour with his family in 1877, he bought lot 31 at Mount Wilson at the same time as his brother and cousin bought other allotments there (see MW 002, 018, 019). By 1880 Beowang had been erected for George Henry Cox by James Nutman, the builder of Dennarque (MW 015). The architect has not been identified. Like Merewether, Cox chose an Aboriginal name for one of the three types of tree fern recognised by the indigenous people at Mount Wilson. (The third had been used by Richard Wynne for Yarrawa, his second cottage on Wynstay, MW 001.)

For both George Henry and his brother James Cox, Mount Wilson was not just a summer retreat, but also a conveniently sited staging post between the Cumberland Plain and their interests in the central west. This singles out the Cox brothers among the other early residents of the hill-station.

George Henry played a vigorous role in community affairs, using his parliamentary weight to advantage in gaining a public school for the village in 1891 and restoring its status in 1899. But Cox left Beowang in 1899 and died out west at Burrundulla in 1901.

Additional buildings at Beowang were constructed in the early twentieth century, the cottage and the post office facility, the greenhouse, whose foundations are still impressive, but the exotic tree plantings in the garden were initiated by George Henry Cox. The next owners of note were the Whites, members of the well-known Belltrees branch of the grazing family. It was they in the 1920s who changed the name of the property to Withycombe: the novelist and Nobel Laureate, Patrick White, lived here with his parents when he was a teenager, accompanied by his 'rather feared bulldog'. (Warliker, 30)

Patrick White's father, Victor, gave the property to the Anglican diocese of Sydney and it was used as a rural retreat for the archbishop for some time, until the church sold it to the Collards. It has continued to be in private hands. (Valder, Carmarthen Hills, 82)

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]
Beowang/Withycombe is one of the foundation houses of Mount Wilson, associated with the Cox family and used as a staging post between their metropolitan interests and their estates in the central west. George Henry Cox was a prominent figure in New South Wales political and pastoral life throughout the late Victorian period. The association of the property with the White family of Belltrees and the young Patrick White is also of state significance.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Withycombe is a good example of a substantial mountain residence with influences of the Victorian filigree style. It is unusual in combining corrugated steel roofing with terracotta ridging.

The magnificent Spanish oak on the front lawn has high aesthetic appeal. The spacious grounds have evolved over Cox and White ownership to contain areas of formality which contrast significantly with the broad vistas elsewhere.
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 PlanLEP1991MW01727 Dec 91 183 
Heritage study MW017   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Blue Mountains Heritage Review2003MW017Jack, Hubert, Lavelle, MorrisRIJ, PH, CM, SL Yes
Technical Audit BM Heritage Register2008MW017Blue Mountains City CouncilCity Planning Branch No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 1888Australian Men of Mark
WrittenHelen Warliker1990A Mount Wilson Childhood
WrittenPeter Valder1990The Carmarthen Hills, in Peter Stanbury (editor), Blue Mountains: Holiday Playground for All

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: 1170579


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