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Mamre - Homestead

Item details

Name of item: Mamre - Homestead
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Farming and Grazing
Category: Homestead Complex
Primary address: 181-275 Mamre Road, Orchard Hills, NSW 2748
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Penrith
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
181-275 Mamre RoadOrchard HillsPenrith CumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

"Mamre" property is of State significance as a substantial Georgian homestead and former residence of Rev. Samuel Marsden (1820-30), Richardm then Henrietta Rouse and the Hon. Robert Fitzgerald, MLC (1840s). Marsden and Richard Rouse, were both influential early colonials. Samuel Marsden is an important figure in the early missionary history of New Zealand. The property has strong, continuing association with the Sisters of Mercy, Parramatta and the Mamre Project which has great regional social importance. Mamre is historically significant for its association with the early sheep-breeding experiments of Reverend Samuel Marsden, which contributed to the early development of the wool industry in NSW.

The site of Mamre property is significant for its potential to yield information on the pre-contact Aboriginal occupation of the South Creek catchment. Mamre is historically and socially significant as an important site in post-contact Aboriginal history, demonstrating Aboriginal survival and adaptation to non-traditional social, economic and political practices.

Mamre has historic and aesthetic significance as a rare, regional example of a fairly intact pre-1860 colonial landscape and homestead on the Cumberland Plain. The Mamre farmhouse is an iconic feature in the St Marys region and immediate landscape. The building is an important example of an early 19th century homestead in the Colonial Georgian style.

The farmstead is archaeologically significant for its potential to yield information on early colonial landscapes, farmsteads and Georgian architecture.

The South Creek corridor is significant for its preservation of endangered ecological communities. It has potential to yield valuable information about the river-flat forests, wetlands and riparian habitats, which are among the most threatened natural landscapes in western Sydney.
Date significance updated: 20 Oct 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.


Designer/Maker: Not known
Builder/Maker: Not known
Construction years: 1822-1832
Physical description: Mamre is typical of a farmhouse on a working farm in the Colonial Georgian style. The property comprises a large rural holdings of 87 hectares, which is a remnant of a larger holding initially owned by Rev. Samuel Marsden. The extant two storey Colonial Georgian homestead building was constructed c.1832 of sandstock bricks, which were rendered sometime between 1893-1903. The footings are stone with timber floors and the roof was originally shingled, but was covered with corrugated iron at the end of the 19th century. The sandstone flagged timber verandah wrapping around three sides of the building (west, north and east sides) has a bellcast corrugated iron roof. The plan of the house is rectangular, with a central stair hall, eleven rooms and a single storey kitchen wing to the southern side. The windows of the house are timber double hung, with each sash having six panes. Two brick chimneys are located in each end hip.The planned form of the building was of two storeys, which was encircled by a single storey verandah on four sides. Each floor of the main building contained five rooms, with smaller ancillary rooms located within the infill of the verandah, predominantly along the southern side. A smaller separate kitchen and dining room building, associated with the homestead, was located at the south eastern corner, and was demolished in 1951.
The earliest plan of the house is representative of the Georgian style, however the symmetry has not been taken to its full extent, and the enclosed verandah on the southern side is a break in the rules of the Australian vernacular. The use of symmetry however is visible in the regular arrangement of fenestration (particularly to the longer sides) and the positions of the chimneystacks. Another typical feature of the Australian Georgian style of architecture is the single storey encircling verandah.

Some farm outbuildings remain. They are generally timber framed with corrugated iron cladding.
There are also a number of modern rendered brick buildings serving the Mamre project and tourism uses.

The original approach route to the homestead would appear to have been in a straight line from Mamre Road. It passed via the various farm and outbuildings, to the rear entrance of the homestead. This arrangement was a common practice employed in the colony, and in the Cumberland plain in particular. The house faced South Creek to the west.

The house has undergone five distinct phases of construction, each of which is clearly reflected in the existing fabric: c.1820s original construction; c.1890s refurbishment for the Fitzgerald family; 1951 alterations and additions for Professor Colin Maclaurin; and 1984 conservation and refurbishment for the Department of Environment and Planning.

c.1820s fabric
Includes the layout and material of the external walls of the homestead, being of sandstock brick construction (although not including the finish), the hipped roof form, timber shingles and single storey encircling verandah. The majority of window and door openings are from this phase, although the window frames and doors are not. The two fireplaces and chimneys are original, as is the timber boarded soffit to the verandah.

c.1 890s fabric
Includes the rendered and scored external wall finish and corrugated iron roof sheeting over the original timber roof shingles.

1951 fabric
Remnant fabric from this phase includes the existing windows frames, although not their multi-paned appearance, plasterboard ceilings and cornices, timber stair, and bathroom at first floor level. Internal joinery

1984 fabric
Includes the restored appearance of the building, including demolition of many of the additions from the 1951 phase, restoration to the verandah (including timber posts and stone flagging), multi-paned window appearance and timber shutters, many of the partition walls at first floor level, and all internal doors.

1986 Sisters of Mercy
Provision of tea rooms, kitchen and bathroom fitouts at ground floor level, replastering and repainting of internal walls.

A purpose built complex for the craft shop was constructed and included a group of four buildings located around a central square, to the south east of the homestead.

Ongoing research into the prehistory of the Greater Sydney region indicates that the area has been inhabited by Aboriginal people for at least 20,000 years and possibly longer. Sheltered sites in the Blue Mountains and along the foothills overlooking the Hawkesbury/Nepean River System have to date yielded evidence for the earliest occupation. The Blue Mountains site of Kings Tableland has produced a radiocarbon date of ca. 22,000 years BP, whilst excavation of the Greaves Creek rock shelter site of Walls Cave near Medlow Bath has revealed a date of c.12,000 years BP. At Shaws Creek KII, a rockshelter on the west bank of the Nepean River north of Penrith, a date of c.13,000 BP demonstrates human exploitation of the area at that time (Kohen et al 1984). A second rockshelter on Darling Mills Creek at West Pennant Hills has also provided a radiocarbon date of c.10,000 BP. There are no other Pleistocene sites, or sites dated to the last glaciation on the Sydney coast. However, two sites dated to around 7,000 years ago have been subject to archaeological investigation. These consist of a sheltered midden at Curracurrang in the Royal National Park and an open campsite containing a hearth at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Randwick.
Zones of Historical Archaeological Sensitivity
Zones of High Sensitivity
The homestead area has the potential to contain the foundations of former buildings and some potential for the remains of former fence lines, garden edging, drains etc. Although the demolition and re-landscaping of parts of the homestead will have disturbed some of the deposits it is likely that more remain, particularly in the area formerly used as stables, now a lawn to the east of the house.

Zones of Moderate Sensitivity
The area of paddock between the house and Mamre Road is the most likely place for the early saleyards to have been situated. The historical record indicates that the paddocks in this area were probably used for grazing rather than agriculture. This indicates there is some potential for there to be archaeological evidence of their arrangement and position.

The banks of South Creek are considered to have a moderate potential due to the possible presence of early fords, sheep wash channels and irrigation works.

Zones of Low Sensitivity
The remaining areas of paddocks to the west of the house are considered to have a low potential due to the presence of market gardens and orchards in these areas which would have destroyed most sub-surface deposits. The remains of earthworks which appear to be drainage lines and fence lines marked by African olives and thorn bush has some potential for showing the line of paddocks, windbreaks and techniques to prevent flooding

The landscape of Mamre is composed of two distinct areas; the homestead and its associated outbuildings and gardens, and the wider farmstead of cleared paddocks and revegetation along the boundaries and watercourses. The division into two areas and the congregation of structures round the house is typical of colonial landscapes on the Cumberland Plain.The immediate garden landscape of the homestead has been laid out in a manner quite different to that seen in early photographs. The garden has been made more attractive, and any references to the original function and history of the homestead as a working farm are not immediately clear. This present layout does not complement the homestead, given the increased knowledge of its history and use.To the immediate east of the rear door way, a raised, brick garden bed has been laid out which is situated in the approximate position of the original kitchen and dining room. However it would appear to be the wrong size, as it extends the full length of the homestead. Early photographs of the kitchen clearly show that it was a much smaller building. There is also no interpretation, which explains this relationship.Other landscape elements have been added which commemorate people associated with the tenants, the Sisters of Mercy such as the Paddy Murray citrus orchard and the Ellen Conway companion garden, which are situated to the south of the homestead.A brick path leads to a nursery area, which helps shield the converted train carriages from site of the house. The landscape works in this area, including the new craft shop and function rooms is all recent and forms part of the supplementary elements of the place. The exercise course is representative of the evolving use of the place as is the car parking, train carriages and new buildings.At the front of the house, facing west, is a circular rose garden, with views over the billabong and to South Creek in the distance. The form of this garden is not recognisable as a garden layout of any particular period, and was reportedly intended to represent the original circular carriageway, however there is no interpretive display to explain this relationship. The long views to the west with the Blue Mountains in the distance identify this as the scenic aspect of the house.To the east of the kitchen garden is a circular bed, which separates the driveway from the parking area. This parking area is poorly designed and the presence of large buses and cars, which park here, block all views of the homestead from Mamre Road.To the north is a bare grassed area with the remains of stone edging which may have formed an original driveway edging. A children's playground is situated here in an expanse of well kept grass. The views to the north take in paddocks and the distant Freeway, which will eventually be shielded by regrowth along its edges.

Precinct A: Planting around the House
The cultural planting around the house comprises a variety of trees and shrubs as noted on the tree survey. The ages of the vegetation vary with the English Oak trees being in excess of 100 years old. Further to these trees are a variety of mainly exotic trees, generally of poor condition and disparate form. Supplementing these trees are garden beds, established after 1990, consisting of formal garden beds of roses to the western facade of the house and planting of contemporary shrubs in two rectangular beds to the eastern facade.

Precinct B: Service Yard and Storage
This area is dominated by the planting of Eucalypts that form a group of established trees to the south of "Mamre enclosing the service area and storage sheds. This area has been established in the last 12 years and as such is typical of contemporary Australian Native planting of the time. The trees form a substantial vegetated group that disguise and enclose the further activities of the place. The planting forms the most substantial group of trees in the immediate vicinity of Mamre.

Precinct C: Pastoral Landscape
The majority of the site is characterised by an open pastoral landscape, which was once typical of cleared areas of the river flats of western Sydney, consisting of grassed paddocks with the creek line identified by indigenous Eucalypts and Allocasuarinas. Much of the tree growth is re growth of the last two decades with some remnant Eucalypts pre dating this time. There exists some weed species within this precinct along the creek line consisting of mainly blackberries and privet, some of which show evidence of die back as the result of spraying. To the west of the homestead is a line of African Olive and thorn bushes planted on top of a small swale, which formed an early wind barrier to the homestead. Two remnant pear trees are located within this far western paddock adjacent to South Creek, possibly remnants of the early orchard.

Precinct D: Driveway planting
The driveway planting, which extends from Mamre Road to the garden of Mamre, consists of informally and formally planted indigenous Eucalypts including Eucalyptus sideroxylon. These trees planted approximately 30 years ago, they first appear on the aerial photographs on 1970), contrast to the dominant character of the surrounding open pastoral landscape of clumps of trees and open grassland
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
On the whole the Mamre homestead is in very good condition, primarily due to the recent renovation works by both the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning and the Sisters of Mercy.

The external walls appear in good condition, with no evidence of further rising damp. Similarly the stone flagging and timber verandah posts, previously damaged by rising damp, are in good condition.

Generally the corrugated iron roof sheeting appears in good condition, with only minor surface corrosion evident to the sheeting of the verandah on the western side. The sheeting appears to be uneven, most likely because of the timber shingles below. At first floor level, the downpipe and gutter at the south western corner and the gutter at the north eastern corner have rusted through. The gutters around the verandah are water stained from overflow.

There is some minor cracking to the glass panes of the French doors at the north eastern corner, and some minor rotting to the timber sill of one of the north facing windows at ground floor level.

Internally the building appears in very good condition, in both its wall, floor and ceiling fabric. There is some evidence of patching to internal walls.

Although an in-depth inspection of the various outbuildings was not undertaken at this time, a brief inspection shows these buildings to be in relative good condition, and all are currently in use. The shed at the south eastern corner of the homestead was renovated in 1989. The guard vans date from the late 1980s, and appear to be well maintained and recently painted. The craft store complex, many of the garden structures and the maintenance sheds date were constructed in the mid 1990s.
Date condition updated:07 Mar 05
Modifications and dates: c.1890s fabric
Includes the rendered and scored external wall finish and corrugated iron roof sheeting over the original timber roof shingles.

Infill rooms to the verandah which have been demolished. There was thought to have been a cellar under the verandah on the southern side. The kitchen and dining building was detached from the main house, but connected by a covered way of approximately 20 feet from the verandah of the kitchen to the verandah of the house, which formed a small brick paved entrance courtyard.

1951 fabric
Changes made to the main residence of Mamre in 1951 included the following:Ground floor level:the addition of a toilet and bathroom at the north eastern corner of the house (under the line of the encircling verandah);infilling of a doorway between the north eastern corner room and this bathroom extension;new doorway opened between this north eastern corner room and the stairwell;removal of a small weatherboard room at the north eastern corner of the verandah (located under the encircling verandah);removal of walls between the southern rooms;the addition of a laundry and garage at the south eastern corner of the house;new chimney and flue located within the kitchen;demolition of part of the southern extremity wall, and infill with timber boarded infill wall; replacement of all windows generally and new windows to the kitchen; replacement of staircase; and addition of new terra cotta grilles to the base of external walls, to aid sub-floor ventilation First floor level: the addition of a bathroom within part of the original first floor bedroom at the north eastern corner of the house; location of partitions were generally moved to accommodate new cupboards and a new bedroom; removal of a fuel stove, fireplace and chimney at first floor level; and replacement of all windows generally. Landscape changes: Formal line of trees planted from the front of the house extending to the west Trees along billabong behind the house removed, probably to open vista to South Creek. Large clump of trees removed to the north of the house and also to the east, alongside the barn. The existing curved and formal driveway introduced.
Remnant fabric from this phase includes the existing windows frames, although not their multi-paned appearance, plasterboard ceilings and cornices, timber stair, and bathroom at first floor level. Internal joinery.

1984-1986 fabric
Included the restored appearance of the building, including demolition of many of the additions from the 1951 phase, restoration to the verandah (including timber posts and stone flagging), multi-paned window appearance and timber shutters, many of the partition walls at first floor level, and all internal doors.

Generally the works at this time included the demolition of gateposts on the eastern side of the house; the 1951 garage/laundry wing at the south eastern corner and the bathroom infill at the north eastern corner to the original wall, while retaining the verandah roof over.

The interior restoration included the provision of tea rooms downstairs, and music and dining rooms upstairs. a small "window" was constructed in an upstairs room to allow the original roof material to be seen. The downstairs bathroom was renovated. Replastering and repainting of internal walls.

A purpose built complex for the craft shop was constructed in 1995 and included a group of four buildings located around a central square, to the south east of the homestead. The craft shop is located within one of these buildings, another is used for toilet facilities for visitors to the property, and the remaining two house group and training rooms. To the east of the homestead a small square garden bed has been established, which indicates the extent of the early kitchen/dining room building.
Further information: The property retains much of its rural character, with the exception of the encroachment of the Western Freeway to the north and adjoining residential subdivision to the east. Most of the early associated out buildings have been lost. The property has been leased to the Sisters of Mercy since 1986 and their lease was renewed in 2006. The homestead building was conserved and restored in 1988 and is currently operated by the Sisters of Mercy as a historic tourist attraction serving light meals, and as a function venue. The Sister of Mercy also run training projects and provide employment opportunities for young people in the local area from additional buildings they have erected on the site.
Current use: Residential
Former use: Residential


Historical notes: Reverend Samuel Marsden arrived in the Colony in 1794 as a 28 year old assistant Chaplain. Later that year Marsden received his first New South Wales grant of 100 acres on the Field of Mars near Dundas. He developed an interest in the selective breeding of stock and pasture improvement and in 1804 received a grant of 1030 acres at South Creek near St Marys, where Mamre was established. The grant straddled South Creek, the western portion being located within the Parish of Claremont, and the eastern, smaller portion within the Parish of Melville. He cleared and cultivated both holdings immediately and began his selective sheep breeding experiments. He aimed to achieve the breeding of a sheep that would produce good meat and wool. He crossed a Spanish Merino ram and ewe, bought from Captain Waterhouse, with the best of his Bengal hair-producing breeds. Within two crosses, the sheep were producing wool rather than hair. Marsden was convinced of the economic prospects of fine wool for the Colony and abandoned his earlier aim and began to breed primarily for fine wool production.
Marsden's fleeces were noted as the best in the Colony between 1804 and 1814. In 1807 Marsden returned to England to recruit clergy, missionaries and teachers and took with him samples of his best wool (presumably produced at Mamre). Marsden arranged for J. & W. Thompson's Park Mill at Rawdon, near his home village, to weave it into two suits. Marsden wore one suit to an audience with King George III ('Farmer George') and presented the other one to the King. In return Marsden was presented with five merino ewes from the Royal Flock [Murray & White 1998:94].

In August 1809, the Marsdens returned to Australia with five Spanish Merino ewes and young from the Royal flock. Marsden was one of the best farmers in the colony, as well as being a chaplain and magistrate. His estates were used as model farms with orchards of grapes, peaches, apples, pears, oranges, apricots, nectarines and berries. There was also wheat, oaten hay, exotic pasture grasses, sheep, cattle and horses. By 1836 Marsden's landholdings totalled almost 12,000 acres and he had well over 20,000 sheep and 1,100 cattle spread over his many properties. Marsden's will states that Mamre was approximately 1,500 acres at the time of his death in 1838

In 1838 the property passed to Charles Simeon Marsden. On 21 August 1839, Charles Marsden and his wife Elizabeth the daughter of respected soldier, landholder, magistrate and family friend, Captain John Brabyn and his wife Sarah Brabyn, applied to the Supreme Court of New South Wales for a Mortgage to Richard Rouse, for a sum of £1,300, for Mamre. It was advertised as existing of 1,000 acres, 500 of which were cleared, as well as "dwelling house, extensive orchard and garden, barn, stabling and enclosed paddock."

Richard Rouse acquired Mamre in 1839 and in 1841 the property was given to his daughter Elizabeth Henrietta Rouse as her principal wedding gift when she married the Hon. Robert Fitzgerald, MLC for Windsor. [Murray Cree 1995:55]. Elizabeth and Robert Fitzgerald continued as absentee owners and leased the farm to several different tenants including the Marsdens. On the death of Elizabeth (Rouse) Fitzgerald, Mamre passed to her eldest daughter, Elizabeth who continued to lease the property.
In 1845 Charles’ mother-in-law, Sarah Brabyn repurchased 110 acres of the former Mamre estate, called Shrivenham, for her daughter Elizabeth, After a short time at Shrivenham, Sarah leased Mamre and the family returned to live in the homestead.

The next known tenant was James Hall, who took over the lease from 1886 to 1949 and lived in the house with his wife, Emily Elizabeth Shadlow. Hall established a large dairy on the property as well as crops and pigs
The main residence in the 1930s was as it is now, except for the infill rooms to the verandah which have been demolished. There was thought to have been a cellar under the verandah on the southern side. The kitchen and dining building was detached from the main house, but connected by a covered way of approximately 20 feet from the verandah of the kitchen to the verandah of the house, which formed a small brick paved entrance courtyard.

The dairy had weatherboard walls, with a gabled roof of timber shingles, later covered over with corrugated iron. About 30 feet from the dairy was a barn. The stables, situated about 50 feet from the dairy, to the east included a brick gaol and a harness room arranged at either end of the four stables. The stables were divided into eight stalls, with a brick floor. Behind the stables was a stone paved pig sty.

In March 1949, most of the property was transferred to Emily Ethel MacLaurin of Sydney, and her son, Professor Evan Colin Briarcliffe MacLaurin, descendants of the Fitzgerald family who used the property as a weekender. The homestead underwent major renovations at this time, including garage, boiler room and laundry additions, and replacement of the windows, shutters and staircase. The two-roomed kitchen and dining room was also demolished at this time, as were many of the outbuildings around the homestead, including the dairy, stables and barn/farmhand loft.,

In 1949, architects Lindsay, Thompson and Spooner were commissioned by the MacLaurins to renovate the house. The alterations were instigated to improve the living conditions of the house, which was in a poor state of repair, a result of its prior use as a cow shed. Landscape works were also undertaken at this time. The works showed some concern for the original form and character of Mamre, as roof lines were repeated, and materials were matched, including the stone sills, timber louvred shutters, corrugated iron sheeting and stuccoed exterior walls.

The area of the original grant was first subdivided between 1952-1955 with 489 acres 3 roods and 37perches remaining. Eight lots were sold, and an extra part was also sold, leaving mostly the eastern portion of the property. Part of the extant property in September 1953 was mortgaged to The Commercial Banking Company of Sydney. In May 1965 the land for the M4 Freeway was resumed by the Commissioner for Main Roads, and major subdivisions occurred in 1968 with only 85 hectares remaining. Arthur Windsor and family lived in the caretaker's cottage from 1968-83 and continued the farming activities. The caretaker's cottage was presumably on the eastern side of Mature Road as there are no cottages to be seen in aerial photographs within the current boundary. The property was transferred to the State Government in 1975, however the MacLaurin family continued to use the homestead until 1978. The homestead was then unoccupied and vandalised.

In 1984 works to restore the house were undertaken by Howard Tanner and Associates. The broad aims for restoration at this time were to maintain and reinforce the architectural qualities of the original building; remove elements which were not critical to the importance of the homestead, rectify structural defects; to replace deteriorated or missing original elements in new material to matching detail; and to enrich the existing characteristics by cleaning, refixing, supporting and finishing existing building elements.

In 1986 Mamre was bought by the Department of Environment and Planning and leased to The Sisters of Mercy for a term of 20 years. They proposed the re-establishment of a working farm with crops, vegetables, plant nursery, farmyard animals, showcase herd of cattle, Egelabra Merinos descended from Marsden's flocks, craft and community activities, educational and archival material and farm workshops. In July 1990 the homestead was opened to the public by the NSW Premier the Hon. Nick Greiner. Mamre continues to offer job skills and training.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Country estates-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Country estates-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Country estates-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Country estate-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Mamre is of state historical significance for its association with both the Rev. Samuel Marsden and the Rouse Family. It has further significance for the production and export of the first "weavable" wool in the colony and for its association with the settlement and development of pastoral/farming activities in the St Marys district.

The Mamre property represents an important site in the post-contact history of Aboriginal survival and adaptation to non traditional social, economic and political practices. Namely, the remnants of the clans who occupied the entire Sydney area prior to contact began to congregate and ultimately work on a few properties such as Mamre. Several accounts report the `South Creek' tribe occupying the property of Charles Marsden as late as 1835 (Backhouse 1843). This patterning is reported to have continued for some period after the cessation of convict transportation.

Mamre's history and landscape illustrates the pattern of pastoral development of the colony and the important part played by the agricultural lands of the Cumberland Plain in the early settlement of the western region of Sydney and its importance for the establishment and continuance of the early colony.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
It is likely that Mamre possesses strong or special association for the descendants of Aboriginal people whom have been documented to have lived or worked on the property by researchers such as Laura Murray Cree (1995). The importance of Mamre to the wider Aboriginal community will most likely reinforce this assessment criterion.

Mamre has a special historical association with Reverend Samuel Marsden who was the original grantee of the block on which Mamre was built, although the house was probably built probably for his son, Charles. Samuel Marsden was an influential figure in the early colony, for both his agricultural and political pursuits as well as his missionary zeal, and has a close association with the convict history of early Parramatta. Marsden is an important and influential figure in the early missionary history of New Zealand. The Marsden family association with Mamre is significant for its illustration of the process of the early granting of large tracts of land to influential colonial citizens, across the Cumberland Plain. Many of these men received their grants in appreciation for their work for the colony, and the Marsden family is typical of this era. The subsequent owner, Richard Rouse was of a very similar ilk and his purchase of property across the Cumberland Plain illustrates the development, by the 1840s of large land owners consolidating their holdings.

Mamre is also associated with Richard Rouse and his family, who were significant in the early development of horse racing and stud breeding in the colony. Richard Rouse became Superintendent of Public Works at Parramatta, and similarly to Marsden, acquired large tracts of land on the Cumberland Plain before the opening of pastoral lands to the west of the Blue Mountains. Mamre was then subsequently occupied by his son-in-law, the Hon. Robert Fitzgerald, M.L.C of Windsor, who was director of the Bank of New South Wales, magistrate, elected to a seat in the County of Cumberland in 1849 and appointed to the new Legislative Council in 1856.

Mamre has a strong association with the Sisters of Mercy, Parramatta, whose works are of great regional importance.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Mamre is of high aesthetic significance as a fine example of an early Colonial Georgian Residence retaining some elements of its original rural setting.

Mamre is important for its demonstration of landscape and architectural characteristics typical of pre-1860 Cumberland Plain Colonial Landscapes (Britton & Morris, 2000). The colonial Georgian homestead in its farm setting, surrounded by farmland with distant views to South Creek, has high aesthetic value. The preservation of the rural landscape and line of original watercourses is significant to the local region, where spreading urban development threatens open space and natural habitats. The Mamre farmhouse is an iconic feature in the St Marys region, and immediate landscape.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The potential archaeological resource within the Mamre property is likely to have particular importance to the local Aboriginal community as an example of the possible survival of archaeological evidence in the face of ongoing urban expansion and development that is characteristic of the surrounding region. Whilst archaeological sites may have been in the past impacted by agricultural and pastoral pursuits, the considerable section of the South Creek catchment contained within the property has avoided more invasive subdivision and residential housing development. Consultation with the Deerubbin Local Aboriginal Land Council, the Darug Custodian Aboriginal Corporation and the Darug Tribal Aboriginal Corporation will determine the level of significance of this criterion.

Mamre has high social value to the local residents of the St Mary's and Penrith region. Mamre preserves valuable open and recreational space, as well as the more recent association with the important work of the Sisters Of Mercy, Parramatta. The Sisters took over the lease of the property in 1986, and since then have turned the homestead and farm to the training of the local unemployed. The Mamre Project is very important to the local region and the homestead has a high profile among local residents.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The potential archaeological resource of Mamre may contribute significant information useful to our understanding of the nature and development of NSW's cultural history. It retains not only the potential to inform us about past use and occupation of the South Creek region in particular and Aboriginal land use practices in general. There also exists the potential for the archaeological resource to further our understanding of the 'culture clash' that occurred following white settlement of the region and elaborate our understanding of NSW's early post-contact history.

Mamre has some archaeological potential to provide further information on early colonial landscapes, farmsteads and Georgian architecture.

Mamre is of high technical/research significance for its demonstration of early 19th century building techniques and farming practices.

The South Creek corridor which runs through Mamre has the potential to yield valuable information about the River-Flat forests, wetlands and riparian habitats which are among the most threatened natural landscapes in Western Sydney.
SHR Criteria f)
Mamre exhibits characteristics typical to Cumberland Plain colonial landscapes, which are becoming increasingly rare in the western Sydney region. The siting of the homestead on the lowlands, is one of only two examples of this model remaining on the Cumberland Plain. The intactness of the farmhouse within its agricultural setting is rare in the local region of western Sydney.

The River-Flat forests and riparian habitats of the South Creek Corridor are among the most threatened habitats in Sydney today, and is on the Interim List of Endangered Ecological Communities under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act (1995)
SHR Criteria g)
Mamre is representative of major colonial homesteads with substantial acreage.
Mamre exhibits the principal characteristics of NSW colonial Georgian farmhouses and colonial landscapes of the Cumberland Plain, pre-1860 (Morris & Britton, 2000)
Integrity/Intactness: The main house is relatively intact, with only a few original outbuildings remaining.
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:

The existing lease should contine and address the implementation of the CMP recommendations and potential implementation of broader corridor works such as revegetation. The commercial terms of the lease may need to be reviewed in light of the 2003 CMP to reflect the policies within. The potential for the site to form a space for the local government engineers should also be further investigated. The curtilage of the property is vital to its significance and integrity. Some aspects of the current visual curtilage of the homestead detract from the significance of the property. The sight and sound of vehicles on the M4 motorway is a significant distraction from the peaceful agricultural landscape and character of the homestead, and considerable revegetation programs have been undertaken on the banks of the motorway which will provide future screening. On the other hand however, the view of Mamre from the motorway is a key component of its public visibility and recognition, and ultimately interpretation as an early rural homestead and farm. The transmission lines to the west of South Creek will also eventually be disguised as the trees along South Creek gain in height. To the east, the views of the housing in St Clair, commercial signage and traffic along Mamre Road is another significant intrusion on the curtilage of the homestead. Screening shrubs along the fence line will assist in retaining the open character of the paddocks whilst providing some buffer for the noise and sight of vehicles. To the south the current views across other farmland areas should be maintained and encouraged to protect the character and significance of Mamre. The historical curtilage of Mamre, which encompasses the boundary of the property during Marsden ownership, lends to the significance of the site, as it helps explain the development of the region from large farms to smaller farms to semi-rural and then urban fringe. Parts of this historical curtilage has been lost, such as the area to the east of Mamre Road and to the west of South Creek. Mamre was however, always a property in flux and its boundaries changed many times during its history. The loss of some of these areas is not considered to be of a negative impact. The Expanded Heritage Curtilage takes in some of these areas which are less developed and retain some of the open space of the original property. The Expanded Heritage Curtilage of the farm to the south along South Creek is vitally important to retain the historical and visual character of mixed agriculture in the western region. The expanded heritage curtilage of Mamre is regionally significant as it provides a buffer zone for the threatened Riparian habitats of the South Creek Corridor, and valuable open land in an increasingly urbanised context. The Lot Boundary Heritage Curtilage describes the current boundary of the property. The current boundaries of the property, Lot 1, DP 530579, should be recognised as the Lot Boundary Heritage Curtilage of the farmstead. This contains within it cultural and natural landscape and heritage buildings that gives the place its heritage significance. It is also considered that there is an Expanded Heritage Curtilage for Mamre, which includes lands, which belong to DUAP along the South Creek Corridor, and border the current property to the south. This visual and associational curtilage provides a greater rural context for the property, which is important for its preservation of character and integrity. Landscape setting The landscape of Mamre is significant to the local region as it preserves open space in an increasingly urbanised area and enhances the survival of threatened species within South Creek Corridor. The agricultural nature of the landscape and the bushland along South Creek create a pleasing contrast, which should be maintained with some restrictions on revegetation in paddocks surrounding the homestead. The abundance of noxious olives, blackberry, thistles and other weeds in the paddocks of Mamre are a problem, but one which should be seen in a cultural context. Some areas of olive and thorn bush infestation are cultural plantings which mark fence lines and drainage channels and thus should be retained, but not allowed to spread. The recognition of value in these species, which in general are considered noxious, should be done with an awareness of the potential hazard they pose if left unmanaged. Landscape policy depends to a certain degree on the ongoing use of Mamre as a pastoral grazing and cropping property. While it is recognised that Mamre will never by a viable property, the character and form of the place should reflect the past agricultural use and consequent land use patterns. Conservation, land management and revegetation programs should seek to protect the traditional open landscape context of the farmstead. This would include the open vistas toward and along South Creek to the south and the open paddocks between the homestead and Mature Road. Revegetation programs should take care not to plant species, which may overly enclose the homestead and surrounding paddocks. Specific landscape policies and actions are identified in the CMP 2003 prepared by Graham Brooks and Associates. Farmstead and Setting The significance of the property lies in the history of the settlement of the Cumberland Plain, its visual and historic character as a working farm and as a rare type of early farm landscape with the house as a central feature. This character is vital to be retained as much as possible, whilst balancing the needs for revegetation, modernisation and economic viability for the current tenants. The agricultural character of the farm should be encouraged as much as possible within DoP's planning for the site, while DoP's policies for revegetation ought to consider the important cultural as well as natural landscape of the farm. Current and future tenants should be encouraged to institute programs to maintain the agricultural nature of the farmstead such as maintenance of grassland through grazing rather than mowing, except in areas where indigenous revegetation programs are in place. DoP should recognise the mixed agricultural nature of the lands in the context of the South Creek corridor, and the recreational uses of parts of those lands. DoP should recognise the value of open space in the western Sydney urban region and the value of Mamre as a space where preservation of both threatened biodiversity and early cultural landscapes can occur. DoP should recognise and interpret the links between Mamre and other agricultural lands owned by them to the west of South Creek, south of the farmstead, and other early Cumberland Plain farmsteads within the DoP estate. Homestead and gardens The current arrangement of the homestead gardens appears to conform closely to the 1986 landscape recommendations designed by Garry Stanley. The arrangement of zones around the house has been successful, excepting in the case of visitor parking which is currently haphazard and inappropriate. Large buses parked directly in front of the homestead and cars scattered over the lawns as occurs at present is inappropriate. The arrangement of all working buildings to the south appears to have no basis in the original arrangement of farm buildings on the site. DoP may want to revisit this policy when the need for additional structures arises. The relationship between the farm buildings, gardens, paddocks and house should be retained. The current arrangement of parking within the homestead area should be reexamined.


Management CategoryDescriptionDate Updated
Recommended ManagementNo Action, follow existing management contols27 Jul 07


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanMamreSM-2820 Dec 91 180 
Local Environmental PlanPenrith Local Environmental Plan 201022822 Sep 10   
Heritage studyMamreSM-2801 Apr 87   
Heritage study 226022801 Nov 07   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
 0SM-28   No
Department of Urban Affairs and Planning2000 S.170  No
Heritage Study Review2006SM28Paul Davies Pty Ltd  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenCox Tanner Pty Ltd, Architects, Architectural Research & Restoration1981A Restoration Report on Mamre
WrittenGraham Brooks & Associates, Taylor Barmmer Landscape, Mary Dallas Archaeologist2003 Conservation Management Plan Mamre St Marys
PhotographHoward Tanner & Associates Pty Ltd1989Mamre (Lot 1 Mamre Rd St Marys): A Photographic Record
WrittenJ. Byrnes1986An Historical Archaeological Report on Mamre
WrittenLaura Cree1995Mamre: Place of Promise

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: 2260228

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