Cottage and Garden, including interiors | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Cottage and Garden, including interiors

Item details

Name of item: Cottage and Garden, including interiors
Other name/s: 'Blink Bonnie'
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Other - Residential Buildings (private)
Primary address: 25 Abergeldie Street, Dulwich Hill, NSW 2203
Local govt. area: Marrickville
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
25 Abergeldie StreetDulwich HillMarrickville  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

Previous Statement of Significance (from Fox and Associates 1986 Heritage Study):
The former Gate House and gardens at 25 Abergeldie Street, Dulwich Hill are an important remnant of the Abergeldie Estate. There are few other remaining examples of the planting associated with the large villa estates developed during the latter part of the century.

As a result of research by Clive Lucas Stapleton and Partners in 2003, the following revised statement of significance was prepared:

The cottage and garden at 25 Abergeldie Street are of cultural significance because they demonstrate the late nineteenth-century subdivision and residential development of Dulwich Hill. The cottage is broadly representative of Victorian cottage construction and is one of few cottages of this type remaining in the immediate area. The garden makes an important contribution to the Abergeldie Street streetscape.

Some components of the place are of more significance than others. Clearly the fabric that is original to the house, the large frees of the garden and the space around the cottage on the battleaxe allotment embody the significance of the place. The recent additions and small remains of the earlier rear wings are not significant.
Date significance updated: 21 Dec 11
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.


Designer/Maker: Not known
Builder/Maker: Not known
Physical description: 25 Abergeldie Street (DP621607 Lot 2) is a Victorian, single-storey, timber-framed cottage built for Joseph Bischoff between 1884 and 1885. The cottage is located to the rear of a large ‘battleaxe’ block on the western side of Abergeldie Street. The house is surrounded by an informal garden including trees such as palms, camphor laurels jacaranda and magnolia grandiflora. The garden is accessed by brick paved pathways. A modem timber-framed garage is located at the front of the site, between the street alignment and the house.

The weatherboard cottage is four-roomed, with a central corridor between the front two rooms. It has a gabled roof with a verandah on the north and east sides. The cottage retains a single original brick chimney in the main part of the house. The house has a modem extension including a kitchen and laundry at the rear (c1970s or 1980s). This area might contain some elements of work carried out to the house in 1918. Most of the northern verandah is enclosed. Some architectural elements such as four panel doors, a rim lock and plaster cornices in the main part of the house date to the nineteenth century.

The verandah has a corrugated iron roof (ogee profile) supported by square chamfered as well as rectangular timber columns. It has a decorative timber balustrade in the Edwardian style but probably built in the last twenty years. The balustrade fretwork features two distinctive symbols on the alternating balusters - a thistle and an arrow. The cottage is raised above ground level. Steps with a low, rendered masonry wall on each side lead to the front verandah.

Louvre-shuttered French doors flank the four-panelled, main entry door with fanlight above (c1885). The door and window joinery at the front of the house is original.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Date condition updated:14 May 99
Modifications and dates: Minor modifications. Garage in front of house and new fence and gate installed in the front yard.
Current use: Residential
Former use: Residential


Historical notes: This is believed to have been the coach house (gate house?) of Sir Hugh Dixon's Abergeldie estate.

Historical Development Brief History of Marrickville
What is now known as the Marrickville Local Government Area, located to the south-west of Sydney, was the land of the Cadigal people prior to European settlement. They identified with an area of land extending from Port Jackson to Botany Bay in the south. After European settlement land grants in this locality were some of the earliest in Sydney and included an allotment of 1000 acres set aside on 20 August 1789 ‘for church, school and Crown reserves.

By the 1830s many of the smaller land grants made to ex-convicts, civilians and government officials of 20 to 100 acres had been consolidated into five large estates owned by people such as Dr Robert Wardell, George Johnston and Robert Campbell. At this time only part of the land had been cleared for cultivation and Marrickville was considered remote. The estates were largely used as rural retreats rather than as working farms. The period between 1830 and 1860 saw the first of many land subdivisions in the locality and the gradual development of village centres and infrastructures associated with developing communities, such as churches, inns and small industries.

Between 1860 and 1890 the population in the area increased and the municipalities of Marrickville, Camperdown, Newtown, St Peters and Petersham were established. The 1880s saw the beginning of rapid residential development on smaller allotments of land and the establishment of Marrickville’s suburban character. In 1949 Petersham, St Peters and Mathckville Councils amalgamated to form Marrickville Municipal Council and in 1968 the boundaries were extended to include parts of Camperdown, Enmore and Newtown that had formerly been administered by the Sydney City Council.

Dulwich Hill
In 1794 what is now known as Dulwich Hill was named Petersham Hill. While in the ownership of Dr Robert Wardell the area underwent various name changes such as Wardell’s Bush and Wardell ‘s Hill. Dulwich Hill derives its name from the London suburb, ‘Dulwich’. It is ‘located on the northern ridges of Marrickville, [and] consists of a number of low hills which used to be heavily timbered, while the lower lands used to be covered with dense tea-tree scrub. Owing to the loamy nature of the soil, the area was noted in the 19th century for its fine orchards, vineyards and gardens.’

A large portion of Dulwich Hill was taken up by the Abergeldie Estate, owned by Dr Renwick. In 1879 the Estate was purchased by Dr Edwin Chisholm who built an imposing Italianate mansion on the site. In 1885 it was bought by Sir Hugh Dixson (1841-1896), a tobacco manufacturer and philanthropist.
The house was located within ‘extensive gardens containing exotic botanical species, conservatory, a small piggery, dairy and garage’. After Dixson’s death in 1926 the 22.5 acre estate was the last large subdivision of land in Marrickville. Now within the boundaries of the suburb of Dulwich Hill, it was formerly in the Petersham Municipality. Sir Hugh Dixson and the Dixson Trust also owned other properties in the locality including 25 Abergeldie Street, a site adjoining his Estate.

25 Abergeldie Street
Abergeldie Street, formerly Albert Street (until approximately 1911-13) is situated adjacent to the eastern boundary of the Abergeldie Estate. Albert Street first appears in Sands Sydney and Suburban Directory in 1883 and in the Valuation Books of Petersham Municipal Council in 1885. Both sources reveal that by 1885 Joseph Bischoff was the owner of! Albert Street (25 Abergeldie Street). Bischoff was a landscape photographer’ and a collection of his photographs is now held by the Mitchell Library. Bischoff’s photographic work is considered to be of a high standard.

Petersham Land Valuation Books show that there was a house built on the land from Various historical records trace the history of the site and the buildings on it. Sydney Water plans of 25 July 1889 indicate that the area is occupied by two timber structures and an open drainage channel to which is connected a pipe that enters ‘Abergeldie grounds’. On 15 Feb 1896 Sydney Water records indicate that Mr Bischoff owned two blocks of land in Albert Street and demolished the boundary fence between them, There were 4 structures on the southern part of what was then known as 1 Albert Street - three timber and one brick out-house - and one of the timber building was shown as recently demolished. The house had a verandah at the front and rear. The northern part of the block contained 3 timber buildings, including a shed. An open drainage channel that crossed both sites diagonally (east-west) had been filled in by this date.

From 1901 the house was described as a four, five and sometimes a six-roomed cottage. The house was tenanted in 1902-3 and after Bischoff’s death in 190321 the property was sold to Sir Hugh Dixson (1841-1926) and occupied by Robert Findlay, a gardener. Dixson’s property adjoined this site and had extensive gardens and it is possible that he leased houses to his employees. At this time Valuation records show that Dixson also owned the land between numbers 7 and 27 Albert Street and later owned and let other properties in Albert (Abergeldie) Street. There is no evidence to suggest that this house was the gatehouse to the Abergeldie Estate, nor that it was part of the Estate.

Between 1911 and 1913 Albert Street was renamed Abergeldie Street and on 8 February 1918 the property was sold to Robert Findlay for 450 pounds. It is described in the Valuation Books for 1917- 19 as a weatherboard cottage of four rooms. Additions to the value of 20 pounds were carried out to the house in 1918. At some time between 1923 and 1925 the property was renumbered to become No.25 Abergeldie Street. In 1925-6 improvements of a tennis court and pavilion were made to the property, which was then recorded as being named ‘Blink Bonnie’.

At some stage after this date and prior to 1939 the site was subdivided into its present ‘battleaxe’ configuration and semi-detached houses constructed on the new blocks to the north.25 The Sands Directory, published until 1932/33, indicates that Findlay lived at this address at least until this time.
The extent and diversity of planting in the garden is of interest and older elements of it could reasonably be attributed to both Joseph Bischoff, based on his interest in the natural landscape or to Robert Findlay whose profession was gardener. This aspect of the site’s history requires further investigation but does not affect the impact assessment of the proposed works which are confined to the house.

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Historical Significance
The site of 25 Abergeldie Street is located on what was known in the 1830s as Dr Robert Wardell’s Estate. The house and garden, built for Joseph Bischoff are evidence of late nineteenth-century land subdivision and residential development in Petersham (later known as Dulwich Hill) and in the Marrickville Municipality. It is one of few single-storey, Victorian weatherboard cottages in the locality where late nineteenth and early twentieth-century, brick residential construction predominates. The current ‘battleaxe’ configuration of the site is evidence of the land consolidation and re-subdivision that occurred between 1885 and 1935 to suit the changing needs of the owners.

Associated People/Organisations
The cottage and garden of 25 Abergeldie Street are significant for their association with Joseph Bischoff, a noted landscape photographer, the owner and occupant of the house from 1884 or 1885 to c.1902. Bischoff’s work recorded many aspects of the New South Wales landscape c1875-1880 some examples of which are held in the Mitchell Library Pictures Collection.

The cottage at 25 Abergeldie Street is significant for its association with Sir Hugh Dixson, tobacco merchant and philanthropist through his ownership of the property from 1903 to 1918. Dixson lived on a substantial estate, known as Abergeldie, adjacent to this site. The lease of the property to Robert Findlay, a gardener, could be attributed to his employment in the extensive grounds and exotic gardens of the estate.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The cottage at 25 Abergeldie Street is an example of a Victorian, timber framed cottage. Its planning of the main part of the house is characteristic of cottage construction of the Victorian era. Despite extensive alterations and additions at the rear of the cottage the main architectural elements on the east façade and some parts of the interior of the house have been retained. The informally planned cottage garden contributes to the streetscape and provides a visual contrast to the formal gardens of many of the properties in Abergeldie Street.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
25 Abergeldie Street is held in high regard by the community of the Marrickville Local Government Area as demonstrated by its inclusion in the Register of the State Heritage Inventory and Local Council LEP Heritage Schedule.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
25 Abergeldie Street is not situated within an identified archaeological zone and is not formally recognised as being of archaeological potential or an item of archaeological significance. There has been some disturbance of the site through building alterations and the dense planting in the garden area. Based on the criteria for archaeological investigation it has limited research potential.
SHR Criteria f)
The cottage at 25 Abergeldie Street is broadly representative of Victorian weatherboard cottage construction and is a rare example of its type in Dulwich Hill.

The scale and planting of the garden is rare in Dulwich Hill and requires further investigation to determine whether it can be attributed to its late nineteenth or early twentieth century owners.
SHR Criteria g)
The cottage at 25 Abergeldie Street is broadly representative of Victorian weatherboard cottage construction and is a rare example of its type in Dulwich Hill.
Integrity/Intactness: The building is inatct and retains its integrity.
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.

Recommended management:

General maintenance


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanMarrickville Local Environmental Plan 2001 18 May 01 86 
Local Environmental PlanMarrickville LEP 2011I912 Dec 11 2011/645 
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Marrickville Heritage Study19861.47Fox and AssociatesNovember 1984 No
Marrickville Heritage Study Review19972030038Tropman & Tropman Architects1997-1999 Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenClive Lucas Stapleton and Partners2003Heritage Assessment and Impact Statement

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

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2030038
File number: 1.47

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