Ravenswood - Victorian Filigree style dwelling | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Ravenswood - Victorian Filigree style dwelling

Item details

Name of item: Ravenswood - Victorian Filigree style dwelling
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: House
Primary address: 139 Tennyson Road, Tennyson Point, NSW 2111
Parish: Hunters Hill
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Ryde
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
139 Tennyson RoadTennyson PointRydeHunters HillCumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

The house, constructed 1890/91 and the site are of historical significance as part of the earliest development of the Tennyson Estate first subdivided in 1887. The site is an original lot from the Tennyson Estate. The house is of aesthetic significance as a fine representative Victorian Filigree style dwelling on a prominent waterfront site on the western side of Tennyson Point, with views into Morrisons Bay. The house has clearly been built to address the water views to the west.
Date significance updated: 26 Feb 13
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.


Construction years: 1890-1891
Physical description: A large two storey house of the late Victorian period on a large site on the western side of Tennyson Point overlooking Morrisons Bay. The house is a prominent landmark. The house is composed of a two storey block with an offset projecting bay to the front (facing Morrisons Bay), and one and two storey wings to the rear (street front), constructed of rendered masonry with a hipped slate roof. The roof features coloured slate patterning, terracotta ridge capping and four tall rendered chimneys. Fenestration comprises timber double hung sash windows. Verandahs with reproduction cast iron balustrading, columns, brackets and friezes, and French doors have been added to the rear (street) and waterfront. (west elevation) A boundary fence of reproduction palisade and bagged brick has also been recently constructed to the street-front boundary.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Date condition updated:16 Jan 12
Modifications and dates: The house has been substantially renovated in recent years. Verandahs with reproduction cast iron balustrading, columns, brackets and friezes, and French doors have been added to the rear and front. A boundary fence of reproduction palisade and bagged brick has also been recently constructed.
Current use: Dwelling
Former use: Dwelling


Historical notes: AREA HISTORY
Aboriginal people inhabited the Sydney basin for thousands of years prior to the arrival of Europeans. The northern coastal area of Sydney was home to the Guringai people, western Sydney was home to the Dharug clans, and southern Sydney was inhabited by the Dharawal clans. The Guringai lived primarily along the foreshores of the harbour, and fished and hunted in the waters and hinterlands of the area. All clans harvested food from their surrounding bush. Self-sufficient and harmonious, they had no need to travel far from their lands, since the resources around them were so abundant, and trade with other tribal groups was well established. The British arrival in 1788 had a dramatic impact on all of the Sydney clans. Food resources were quickly diminished by the invaders, who had little understanding of the local environment. As a result, the Aboriginal people throughout the Sydney Basin were soon close to starvation. The Sydney clans fought back against the invaders, but the introduction of diseases from Europe and Asia, most notably smallpox, destroyed over half the population. The clearing of land for settlements and farms displaced local tribes and reduced the availability of natural food resources, leaving Aboriginal people reliant on white food and clothing. The French surgeon and pharmacist Rene Primavere Lesson, who visited Sydney in 1824, wrote: "the tribes today are reduced to fragments scattered all around Port Jackson, on the land where their ancestors lived and which they do not wish to leave." (Information taken from City of Ryde Aboriginal Site Management Report, Aboriginal Heritage Office, 2011.)

Modern day Tennyson Point was originally part of a land grant to William Raven (1756-1814). He was a master mariner and merchant who sailed to New South Wales in 1792 as captain and part owner of the Britannia. In 1795 he was granted 100 acres (40 hectares) at Eastern Farms, so named because it was east of Parramatta. In 1799 he received a further 285 acres (115 hectares) in the area, north of what is now Tennyson Point. The tip of the peninsula, Raven Point, is named in his honour.

Subsequently this land was acquired by James Squire. He had been transported on the Friendship in the First Fleet: by 1798 he was the licensed proprietor of an inn called the Malting Shovel, located on the Parramatta River. At the time of his death in 1822 he owned significant sections of modern-day Putney, in addition to Tennyson Point.

James Squire Farnell, the grandson of James Squire, inherited part of the former Squire property on the death of his father, Thomas Farnell. James became a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly in 1866, a member of the Legislative Council from 1885 and Premier from 18 December 1877 to 20 December 1878. The Tennyson area remained virtually unused except for timber-getting until Farnell sold it in 1887. The land was subdivided and marketed in September 1887 by the Mercantile Building Land & Investment Co. Ltd. as the Tennyson Estate. The area was known colloquially as Farnell's Bush.

The Parramatta River was the focus of rowing and sculling in NSW with highly competitive races attracting many thousands of spectators along the foreshores between Henley Point and Meadowbank. The subdivision of the land at Tennyson Point capitalised on this popularity with the advertising flyers for the Tennyson Estate noting the land had "Splendid water frontages facing the Championship course Parramatta River" and the streets of the estate were named after rowing terms and personalities. The Tennyson Estate however did not immediately sell, and the land was re-marketed and more auctions held - in 1894, 1900, 1904 and 1905. The land was not fully settled until the early twentieth Century.

By the early 20th Century Gladesville and Tennyson Point were effectively developed, the residents enjoying fast commutes to the city by horse-drawn buses and later trams.

The first Gladesville bridge was replaced by the present concrete-arch bridge in 1964.

139 Tennyson Road stands on lot 12 section 1 of the Tennyson Estate (DP 2166). Lots from the Tennyson Estate were still being sold in 1909.

Historic Land Titles record the following:
Vol 884 folio. l 83: discharges of "within" mortgage as regards lot 12 section 1 16.10.1889. 12.2.1890: mortgage from Mercantile Building Land & Investment Co to John Gilbert Thompson & Melbourne Green of lot 12 section1.
Vol 961 fol 8. 1939 Surveyor-General's: 159 "Ravenswood" Margaret Constable Domestic Duties 123 Parramatta Road Strathfield section 1 lot 13/pt 12 house tennis court sheds; unimproved 455 improved 1200. 161 "Acacia" estate of late E Chlow vol 3382 fol 212 section 1 lot 11 pt 12 cottage unimproved 241 pounds improved 875 pounds.

(Source: Ryde Library & Information Services, Local Studies Collection).

This information reveals the site was sold and a mortgage dischaged to John Gilbert Thompson & Melbourne Green by 1890, indicating construction of a house on Lot 12, Section 1 of the Tennyson Estate by this time. By 1939 the house on the site was known as "Ravenswood" according to the land titles information.

Further to this information, there is a newspaper record of the funeral of the late Arthur George Graham leaving his late residence Ravenswood, Tennyson Point, in March 1912 (SMH, 16 March 1912, page 19).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Nineteenth Century Development-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The house, constructed 1890/91 and site are significant as part of the earliest development of the Tennyson Estate of 1887. The site is an original lot from the Tennyson Estate.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Further historical research is recommended to reveal historical associations.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The house is of aesthetic significance as a fine representative Victorian Filigree style dwelling on a prominent waterfront site on the western side of Tennyson Point, with views into Morrisons Bay. The house has clearly been built to address the water views to the west. .
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
No social significance has been identified.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The site has not been identified as being of archaeological or research interest.
SHR Criteria f)
The item is not rare.
SHR Criteria g)
A respresentative Victorian Filigree style waterfront mansion.
Integrity/Intactness: Highly intact, sympathetic restoration.
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:

DOCUMENTATION: A Heritage Impact Statement is required by Council to accompany any Development Application for non-minor work. Further research on the history of the house is recommended. Please consult Council staff about your proposal and the level of documentation that will be required as early as possible in the process. Note that Council has adopted planning provisions to assist in the making of minor changes that will not have any impact on the significance of properties without the need to prepare a formal application or Heritage Impact Statement. In this case Council must be consulted in writing to confirm the nature of the works. APPROACHES TO MANAGING THE HERITAGE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PROPERTY: (Note: the detailed requirements for each property will be determined on a case-by-case basis. The following advice provides general principles that should be respected by all development.) Further subdivision of the land is discouraged. The overall form of the building should be retained and conserved and new uses should be restricted to those that are historically consistent and/or able to be accommodated within the existing fabric with minimal physical impact. All significant exterior fabric should be retained and conserved. The setting of the property should be protected from the impacts of development and significant plantings, walls, paths and other landscape elements should be retained in a manner that will not threaten the viability of significant gardens, landscapes or views. The external surfaces and materials of significant facades (generally, but not limited to, those visible from the street or a public place including the water) should be retained, and painted surfaces painted in appropriate colours. Sandstone and face brickwork should not be painted or coated. Significant door and window openings should not be enlarged or enclosed. OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHANGE: All development should respect the principle of ‘do as much as necessary but as little as possible’. In most instances, new work should not attempt to replicate historic forms. A ‘contemporary neutral’ design that sits quietly on the site, and enhances the quality of the item, will be a more sympathetic outcome than a ‘fake’ historic building. Respecting the scale and overall forms, proportions and rhythms of the historic fabric is critical. As a general principle, all major alterations and additions should NOT: - result in demolition of significant fabric - result in excessive site cover; - be visually prominent or overwhelm the existing buildings. - intrude into any views of the property from the public domain, including the water; and should be: - located behind the historic building/s on the site; - visually subservient and have minimal impact on heritage significance including that of views over the property. Single storey extensions will generally be preferred over two-storey forms unless there is a sound heritage reason to do otherwise. Attic rooms must be accommodated in the original roof form. Solid fences or high walls on street boundaries and structures - including car parking structures - forward of the front building line are strongly discouraged.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanRyde LEP 2010122   
Local Environmental PlanRyde Draft LEP 2011I122   
Local Environmental PlanRyde LEP 2014I12202 Sep 14   
Local Environmental Plan - LapsedLEP No. 1054117 Jan 03 14355
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Ryde Heritage Study198841Jonathan Falk Planning Consutants P/L Assoc with Rodney Jensen and Assoc P/L  No
Review of 1988 Ryde Heritage Study.2002 Hill Thalis Architecture and Urban Projects.  Yes
Ryde SHI Review Stage 12012 Paul Davies Pty Ltd  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAngela Phippen2011Research by Ryde Library Local Studies section
WrittenAngela Phippen2008Tennyson Point suburb history, Dictionary of Sydney online
MapBatt Rodd & Purves1887Tennyson Estate subdivision map of 1887. National Library of Australia map-lfsp2810-y

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: 2340100

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