Mw016 : Nooroo | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Mw016 : Nooroo

Item details

Name of item: Mw016 : Nooroo
Primary address: 11-15 Church Lane, Mount Wilson, NSW 2786
Local govt. area: Blue Mountains
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
11-15 Church LaneMount WilsonBlue Mountains   Primary Address

Statement of significance:

Criterion (a): Historic
Nooroo is significant as an example of one of the eight foundation houses of Mount Wilson. The principal public interest in Nooroo has, however, long been its justly famous garden, largely created by the Valder family over seventy years after 1918. But the modest core of the house and the fine tree plantings which define the landscape of the garden are also significant because they are the only mark left on the village by William Hay between 1870 and 1885: Hay owned more of Mount Wilson initially than anyone else, was a Scottish grazier and politician of some importance in the state and created a space of his own which is still legible at Nooroo. It is of outstanding significance at the State level.

Criterion (c) Aesthetic
The garden of Nooroo is a remarkable palimpsest of 120 years of affectionate and knowledgable care, from the original tree-plantings and driveway conceived by William Hay through the contributions of three generations of Valders, all trained botanists or horticulturists. The garden now presents a series of linked spaces in which important collections of plants are displayed, but the pedagogy is concealed within a high aesthetic. The profusion of plantings and the variety of presentation, within the mature framework of the nineteenth-century garden, give Nooroo a State and National significance.

Criterion (e) Technical/Research Significance
The expertise particularly of Peter Valder, an academic botanist, has made Nooroo an important collection of exotic, not least Chinese, plantings.
Date significance updated: 22 Jul 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: Francis Moffit
Construction years: 1879-1880
Physical description: Nooroo is a single-storey house of weatherboard and stone, facing south (away from Church Lane). The east and west wings of the house have hipped iron roofs and are linked by a lower section with a gabled roof. Chimneys are of sparrowpecked sandstone.

The house is clad with splayed weatherboards over brick footings and the roof is of corrugated iron. 2 over 2 pane double hung windows with plain architraves face the north side, where the original verandah was enclosed in the 1920s.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good
Date condition updated:22 Jul 04
Further information: There is concern that ‘the Sheep Paddocks’ (the area separating the main gardens from The Avenue to the south and adjoining Hay’s driveway) should not lose their rural character.
Current use: House and Garden
Former use: House and Garden

History

Historical notes: William Hay (1816-1908) was a Scot who came to Australia in 1838, engaged in 'scholastic work' (presumably as a school-teacher) in Tasmania until 1848 and then became a substantial grazier with stations initially in Victoria and then in the Riverina. He took an active role in New South Wales politics in the 1870s and early 1880s, serving on the Legislative Assembly as member for the Murray from 1872 to 1877 and again from 1880 to 1882. (Connolly, Biographical Register of NSW Parliament, 141-2).

In 1870 Hay was among the earliest investors in Mount Wilson. Immediately after the public sale on April 1870 attracted no bidders, Hay arranged to purchase nine allotments in two groups, all on the one day, 25 April 1870.

The southerly group consisted of allotments 1,2 and 3, now part of Breenhold (MW 011). (LPI, Vol. 241 fos. 234, 235, 236)

The central group comprised allotments 28, 29 and 30 to the north of Church Lane and to the south 32, 33 and 35. (LPI, Vol. 233 fo.36; Vol. 241 fos 237, 238, 239, 240, 241). Hay seems to be have primarily interested in making a profit by later sale: all these nine portions were sold between 1876 and 1885. But on portion 30 he did build a house of pit-sawn timber in 1879-80 and he retained this property for another five years, so he may have used Nooroo as a summer retreat, although he is not mentioned in Merewether's correspondence as one of the regular visitors. (Fraser, James & Mack, 46) Existing tree plantings which still 'provide the framework for the garden', cedars, oaks and chestnuts and the disused drive of elms and cherry laurels, are believed to have been the work of Hay. (Musgrove & Valder, ITA, Sept. 1989, 105)

The adjacent allotment 28 to the north had been sold in 1876 to Walter Lamb before Nooroo was built, while lot 29 to the west was sold in 1882 to James Cox, who built Balangra there. The garden of the original Nooroo was therefore essentially only the 11 acres (4.4 hectares) around the cottage. Hay sold Nooroo in February 1885 to a Sydney merchant, Alexander Thomson, whose family retained the property for 33 years and seems to have been resident from the 1890s onwards: the various owners, John, Charles, Jean and James Thomson are all described in the title deeds as being farmers of Mount Wilson. (LPI, Vol. 214 fo.238)

The critical stage in the development of Nooroo's famous garden came in 1918 when James Thomson sold it to George Valder. Valder, an English agriculturist, had become the second Principal of Hawkesbury Agricultural College in Richmond in 1897. Valder retired from the College in 1892, the year when he bought his first block of land at Mount Wilson, but immediately went to South Africa as the state’s commercial agent to stimulate trade after the Boer War. On his return in 1907, Valder became Chief Inspector of Agriculture for New South Wales and in 1909 took charge of the Department of Agriculture as Under-Secretary and Director. (Dart, Hawkesbury Agricultural College,17, 22; Currey, 93). Finally in 1918 he renewed his interest in the possibilities of the rich soils of Mount Wilson and bought the ready-built summer retreat of Nooroo, which soon afterwards he gave to his son, another George Valder, in 1919. George junior immediately rendered the wooden cottage and enclosed the back verandah building: and the garden took shape and was continuously developed by George jr., his wife Isa (whom he married in 1925) and his son, the distinguished botanist, Dr Peter Valder. (Musgrove & Valder, ITA, Sept. 1989, 101-5).

There were many changes during the seventy yars of Valder occupancy. In the 1920s Japanese maples, camellias and Indica azaleas were brought from the Botanic Gardens in Sydney, while Kurume azaleas were supplied by the Hazlewood brothers from their well-known nursery at Epping (Raines, Gardens of Mt Wilson, 9) A clay tennis court in the south-west of the garden was constructed by George Valder jr., then roofed over and turned into a bush-house in the 1960s and finally turned into a formal garden in the 1970s, with an extraordinary variety of wisterias shading rhodendrons. After his father’s death in 1976 Peter Valder created the ‘new garden’ in the south-east corner of the property in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1980, in celebration of the garden’s centenary, the famous white summerhouse, designed by Hugh Fraser and landscaped on the inspirational advice of Richard Clough, was erected to the west of the house. Behind the summerhouse to the north the ‘paved garden’ was created, overhung with ancient tree ferns.(Musgrove & Valder, ITA, Sept. 1989, 101-5)

The property finally left Valder hands in November 1992 and some changes in the garden have been made by the current owners.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
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 (none)-
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]
Nooroo is significant as an example of one of the eight foundation houses of Mount Wilson. The principal public interest in Nooroo has, however, long been its justly famous garden, largely created by the Valder family over seventy years after 1918. But the modest core of the house and the fine tree plantings which define the landscape of the garden are also significant because they are the only mark left on the village by William Hay between 1870 and 1885: Hay owned more of Mount Wilson initially than anyone else, was a Scottish grazier and politician of some importance in the state and created a space of his own which is still legible at Nooroo. It is of outstanding significance at the State level.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The garden of Nooroo is a remarkable palimpsest of 120 years of affectionate and knowledgable care, from the original tree-plantings and driveway conceived by William Hay through the contributions of three generations of Valders, all trained botanists or horticulturists. The garden now presents a series of linked spaces in which important collections of plants are displayed, but the pedagogy is concealed within a high aesthetic. The profusion of plantings and the variety of presentation, within the mature framework of the nineteenth-century garden, give Nooroo a State and National significance.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The expertise particularly of Peter Valder, an academic botanist, has made Nooroo an important collection of exotic, not least Chinese, plantings.
Integrity/Intactness: Excellent
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 Plan1991MW01627 Dec 91 183 
Heritage study MW016   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Blue Mountains Heritage Study1983MW016Croft & Associates Pty Ltd & Meredith Walker  Yes
Heritage Study Review, Blue Mountains1992MW016Tropman and Tropman  Yes
Blue Mountains Heritage Review2003MW016Jack, Hubert, Lavelle, MorrisRIJ, CM Yes
Technical Audit BM Heritage Register2008MW016Blue Mountains City CouncilCity Planning Branch No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenC H Currey1968Mount Wilson, New South Wales: Its location, settlement and development
WrittenC N Connolly1983A Biographical Register of the NSW Parliament, 1856-1901
WrittenElizabeth Raines1998A Brief History of the Gardens of Mount Wilson, circa
WrittenGilbert Hughes1974The Story of Mount Wilson in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, revised edition
WrittenJean Edgcombe2004The Hazlewood Brothers Nurseries, Epping, 1908-1976, in History, no 79, March
WrittenNan Musgrove and Peter Valder1989Nooroo: The Four Seasons in ITA, September

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: 1170597


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