Mw019 : Sefton Hall | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Mw019 : Sefton Hall

Item details

Name of item: Mw019 : Sefton Hall
Other name/s: Balangra
Primary address: 17-19 Church Lane, Mount Wilson, NSW 2786
Local govt. area: Blue Mountains
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
17-19 Church LaneMount WilsonBlue Mountains   Primary Address

Statement of significance:

Criterion (a) Historic
Sefton Hall, its billiard room and garden display both characteristics of the early development of Mount Wilson before 1890 and the sort of twentieth-century development which another generation of the wealthy could bring to the hill-station. The property combines a garden which, like Nooroo, retains some of the major trees which were planted in the 1880s and something of the original carden concept, particularlry in relation to the The Avenue.

Criterion (b) Associations
The Cox family has a special place in the development of the Blue Mountains and beyond by road-building and by successful grazing. Although James Dalrymple Cox was less prominent than his brother, George Henry Cox, or his father, another George, he was a significant member of a significant family, and because of the survival of part of Belangra as Sefton Hall's billiard room and because of the tree plantings, still has a palpable presence in Mount Wilson. His successor, Henry Marcus Clark, the founder of one of Sydney's most successful businesses in 1902, was a vigorous and imaginative man who brought a vitality to Mount Wilson that was not without controversy but did not lack signficane at a State level.

Criterion (c) Aesthetic
Sefton Hall is of high significance for its selection of materials, particularly the extravagant use of fibrous cement sheeting on a residence of substantial scale and conscious design. The design of the residence is a commendable example of the inter-war bungalow style featuring multiple gables embellished with asymmetrical screens, generous verandahs, bay windows and beveled glass. The separate billiard-room, described as ‘quaint’ by Howard Tanner (Great Gardens, 94) is exceptionally fetching in the front garden. The whole aspect of the property is a heritage asset of State significance.
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: H E Tanner
Construction years: 1880-1911
Physical description: Sefton Hall includes a main residence, separate billiard room, separate garages and garden.

Main Residence
The main residence at Sefton Hall is a single inter-war bungalow of generous scale both externally, and in the size of the internal spaces. It is an uncommon example of the use of fibrous cement sheeting in a residence of substantial size and conscious design.

The house has a hipped and gabled roof with a generous verandah overlooking the gardens. Decorative gables in the roof mark the entries of the house. The roof is of fibro shingles, one of the early uses of the material in Australia (check this), and is finished with terracotta ridging and rams horn finials. Brick chimneys have corbels finished with dentilated brickwork at a 45 degree angle. The walls are clad with a pressed metal dado in imitation of rockfaced sandstone at the base and with fibro above. The fibro is finished with timber battens in a cross braced pattern. The gables are finished with asymmetric fretwork screens.

The verandah has a turned timber columns marking the main entry and paired timber posts elsewhere and is finished with a slatted frieze panel. Steps at the entry are swept with a sandstone spandrel and marble urns.

Casement windows and French doors open to the verandah, all having beveled glass in the main sashes. Leadlight is used in the toplights over the casements.


Billiard Room
The billiard room is the remaining part of James Cox’s Balangra, where it served as the sitting-room.. It is a simple gabled pavilion set in the garden. The entry porch at the east end of the pavilion has a gabled roof finished with Moorish detailing. On the south side is a substantial sandstone chimney and on the north and west sides are bay windows with casement sashes of beveled glass and leadlight above. The three papier-mache friezes around the interior (introduced by Marcus Clark) are of exceptional interest, although they were painted over with white paint in the 1990s.

The pavilion is clad with rusticated weatherboards to the main building and vertical beaded boards to the porch. An oval vent in the gable provides additional interest. The roof is of diagonal shingles with terracotta ridging and generous bracketed eaves. The barge boards of the main pavilion are scalloped. Sandstone steps with a sandstone spandrel lead to the porch.


Garage
The garage to the north west of the house has an intersecting gabled roof of ripple iron with terracotta ridging. The gables are finished with battened fibro and the rest of the walls are of corrugated steel.

Garden
The Cox cottage of the 1880s was, like Nooroo next door, approached not from Church Lane but along a tree-lined drive from The Avenue. Balangra was described in the 1890s as ‘embedded in laurel hedges, ferns and flowers. The numberless bright flowers attain a beauty of form and colour that testifies what the advantages of good soil, suitable climate and the hand of a careful gardener can do for English flowers in Australia.’ (Hamilton, quoted by Raines, Mt Wilson Gardens, 6-7) Some of these Cox plantings, the elms lindens, araucarias, pines and two huge Rhodendron arboreum survive but the garden was much developed by Marcus Clark. Part of the garden has reverted to rainforest and a tennis court was introduced on the west side of the garden, along with garden ornaments.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good
Date condition updated:22 Jul 04
Modifications and dates: Billiard room was converted fromthe sitting room of the original Balangra cottage in 1911 and may have been moved to its present site.
Current use: House and Garden
Former use: House and Garden

History

Historical notes: The Cox dynasty has left a highly significant heritage on nineteenth-century properties in the Hawkesbury, the Mulgoa Valley, Mudgee and Mount Wilson. Three of the grandsons of the original William Cox, who is most widely remembered for cutting the first road over the Blue Mountains in 1813, acquired land at Mount Wilson 1882, buying from the original grantees. Edward King Cox built Bebeah, George Henry Beowang (Withycombe) and James Dalrymple Balangra.

James Dalrymple Cox, the brother of George Henry, was a grazier at Cullenbone near Mudgee who found a cottage at Mount Wilson a convenient staging post between Mudgee and Sydney. He bought part of William Hay’s extensive holdings, adjacent to Nooroo, where Hay had already in 1880 built his own mountain retreat and at once, in 1882, Cox built his own cottage which he named Balangra. Like Nooroo, Balangra was approached not from Church Lane but from The Avenue and the fine stone gate-posts built by James Cox survive to puzzle tourists travelling up The Avenue. .(Land & Property Information, Vol.241 fo.237; Fraser, James & Mack, Settlement of Mt Wilson, 39; Currey, Mount Wilson, 70)

Cox had a competent gardener and quickly established attractive plantings. In the 1890s Balangra was described as ‘embedded in laurel hedges, ferns and flowers. The numberless bright flowers attain a beauty of form and colour that testifies what the advantages of good soil, suitable climate and the hand of a careful gardener can do for English flowers in Australia.’ (Hamilton, quoted by Raines, Mt Wilson Gardens, 6-7) Some of these Cox plantings, the elms, lindens, araucarias, pines and two huge Rhodendron arboreum survive.

The property came on the market when the bachelor Cox died in 1910 and was bought at the end of that year by Marcus Clark, the successful Sydney retailer. In 1911 he dismantled Balangra cottage, although the gateway on The Avenue still bore that name at the end of 1911 (Lithgow Mercury, 13 Dec. 1911). The sitting-room of the cottage was converted into a rather spectacular billiard room some 100 metres from the new house. The remainder of Cox’s cottage was rebuilt as a separate house to the west , beyond a new tennis court, and is now the core of Sefton Cottage (MW 018)

Sefton Hall was built in the course of 1911 and completed in 1912 by the contractor H.E. Tanner. Close to the new house an ‘iron-frame look-out’ some 25 metres tall with a series of viewing platforms reached by iron ladders was constructed in 1911, built around a tall eucalypt. From the top of the tree a 12-metre high flagpole was to erected in 1912 with a powerful electric light at the top. The house was lit by electricity, using a dynamo, from the end of 1911 onwards. (Lithgow Mercury, 13 Dec. 1911)

Clark was disturbingly progressive for Mount Wilson and insisted on being connected to Bell and thence to Mount Victoria and the wider world by telephone: he personally paid for the installation of telephone poles and wires all the way from Bell. Clark did not see Mount Wilson as an escape from business in the way that his neighbours had done and had his restless energy not expired in an early grave in 1913 he would probably have stirred debate in the community. He had tried to buy Nooroo next door and did buy land on Queens Avenue where he re-erected a timberman’s cottage from Mount Irvine (later Premier Holman’s country retreat called Shasta Lodge, MW 032), so his intentions to become a major local figure were tolerably clear.

After Marcus Clark’s death in 1913 the family retained Sefton Hall as a holiday home until long after World War II. Helen Gregson recalls playing tennis and horse-riding between the wars with the daughters of Les Clark, who had their main property at Dubbo (Warliker, Mount Wilson Childhood, 32).

After property finally passed from the Clarks in the 1990s substantial changes were made to the interior of the house and to the garden, but the advent of the present owner in 2001 has brought a reprieve for the 1911-2 detailing both in the billiard room and in Sefton Hall.

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)-
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]
Sefton Hall, its billiard room and garden display both characteristics of the early development of Mount Wilson before 1890 and the sort of twentieth-century development which another generation of the wealthy could bring to the hill-station. The property combines a garden which, like Nooroo, retains some of the major trees which were planted in the 1880s and something of the original carden concept, particularlry in relation to the The Avenue.

The Cox family has a special place in the development of the Blue Mountains and beyond by road-building and by successful grazing. Although James Dalrymple Cox was less prominent than his brother, George Henry Cox, or his father, another George, he was a significant member of a significant family, and because of the survival of part of Belangra as Sefton Hall's billiard room and because of the tree plantings, still has a palpable presence in Mount Wilson. His successor, Henry Marcus Clark, the founder of one of Sydney's most successful businesses in 1902, was a vigorous and imaginative man who brought a vitality to Mount Wilson that was not without controversy but did not lack signficane at a State level.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Sefton Hall is of high significance for its selection of materials, particularly the extravagant use of fibrous cement sheeting on a residence of substantial scale and conscious design. The design of the residence is a commendable example of the inter-war bungalow style featuring multiple gables embellished with asymmetrical screens, generous verandahs, bay windows and beveled glass. The separate billiard-room, described as ‘quaint’ by Howard Tanner (Great Gardens , 94) is exceptionally fetching in the front garden. The whole aspect of the property is a heritage asset of State significance.
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 Plan1991MW01927 Dec 91 183 
Heritage study MW019   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Blue Mountains Heritage Study1983MW019Croft & Associates Pty Ltd & Meredith Walker  Yes
Heritage Study Review, Blue Mountains1992MW019Tropman and Tropman  Yes
Blue Mountains Heritage Review2003MW019Jack, Hubert, Lavelle, MorrisRIJ, PH, CM, SL Yes
Technical Audit BM Heritage Register2008MW019Blue Mountains City CouncilCity Planning Branch No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAnon1911Impressions of Mount Wilson, in Lithgow Mercury, 13 December
WrittenC H Currey1968Mount Wilson New South Wales: Its location, settlement and development
WrittenElizabeth Raines1998A Brief History of the Gardens of Mount Wilson, circa
WrittenGwen Silvey1995Manuscript Annotations to BMCC Heritage Inventory Form MW 018, circa
WrittenHelen Warliker1990A Mount Wilson Childhood
WrittenHoward Tanner and Jane Begg1983The Great Gardens of Australia, 2nd Edition
WrittenJim Smith2001Impressions of Mount Wilson - From the Lithgow Mercury, in Mount Wilson Historical Society Bulletin, 7 April

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: 1170599


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