Former Skinners Family Hotel Including Interiors | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Former Skinners Family Hotel Including Interiors

Item details

Name of item: Former Skinners Family Hotel Including Interiors
Other name/s: The Clown Hotel, Turner's Hotel, The Clarendon Hotel
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Hotel
Location: Lat: -33.8672062210255 Long: 151.206321640781
Primary address: 296 George Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
296 George StreetSydneySydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The Former Skinners Hotel, located at the corner of George and Hunter Streets is highly significant as one of the few Old Colonial Regency buildings remaining in the city. The former hotel has significance as one of only four buildings in the Old Colonial Regency style in the city although it no longer has the traditional hotel uses of bar and accommodation; the other buildings in the style are the Lord Nelson, the Hero of Waterloo and a commercial terrace at 246 George Street. While the Lord Nelson is the finest example of the remaining buildings, this former hotel is also significant for its strong contribution to the character of the immediate area and as one of the few remaining buildings of this style in the heart of the city. It has significance as a rare surviving example of an early hotel and as part of the network of corner hotels which provided social / recreational venues and budget accommodation in the city. It has significance as a possible site for scientific investigation due to the age of the building and continuing use of the site since the early days of European settlement. The building now carries the name of the first licensee of the hotel.
Date significance updated: 03 Jan 06
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: Henry Robertson
Builder/Maker: Unknown
Construction years: 1845-1846
Physical description: The Former Skinners Hotel is in good condition externally although the original face brickwork and render detailing of the facade on all levels has been painted. The building was recently restored and the ground floor is used as a bank while the upper floors are in use as offices. The facade features narrow small pane windows with rendered frames and projecting hoods which appear original, grouped in singles and pairs while the main internal space on the first and second floor features a wide window of three sections topped by a pediment. All windows feature blocking under the projecting sills and decorative cast iron grilles. The main entrance at ground floor level features an attached ribbed pilaster with Ionic capital supporting an entablature and hood. The interior of the banking chamber is fitted out with plasterboard ceilings and rendered walls, while some of the upper floors retain some original fabric such as fireplaces and pressed metal ceilings. The windows on the upper floors appear to be original but the ground floor windows have been replaced. The banking chamber opens through the original wall into the adjoining building. Category:Individual building. Style:Old Colonial Regency. Storeys:4 + cellar. Facade:Painted brickwork. Side/Rear Walls:Loadbearing brickwork. Internal Walls:Loadbearing brickwork. Roof Cladding:Unseen. Internal Structure:Loadbearing brickwork. Floor:Timber joists & boards. Roof:Unseen. Ceilings:Plaster on batten, Plasterbd.. Stairs:Timber staircase. Lifts:No.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
General Details:The building is in good condition externally and internally although the interior of the ground floor has been completely gutted and fitted as a bank, and the upper floors refitted as offices. The condition of the building internally is good but some cracks are apparent in the internal walls. Intrusive Elements:Internal bank fitout of ground floor. Signage to wall surface. Opening of large door to basement food shop.
Date condition updated:03 Jan 06
Modifications and dates: 1845-1846
Further information: High Significance:Form, scale and original fabric including face brick (painted) and render detailing. Prominent splay corner entrance, decorative window pediments and decorative parapet entablature detailing. Low Significance:Modern fitouts to upper floors, modern furniture, modern toilet fitouts. Comments:was a heritage item in 1989, and remains so to the present.

Heritage Inventory sheets are often not comprehensive, and should be regarded as a general guide only. Inventory sheets are based on information available, and often do not include the social history of sites and buildings. Inventory sheets are constantly updated by the City as further information becomes available. An inventory sheet with little information may simply indicate that there has been no building work done to the item recently: it does not mean that items are not significant. Further research is always recommended as part of preparation of development proposals for heritage items, and is necessary in preparation of Heritage Impact Assessments and Conservation Management Plans, so that the significance of heritage items can be fully assessed prior to submitting development applications.
Current use: Bank & Commercial Office
Former use: Hotel


Historical notes: The "Eora people" was the name given to the coastal Aborigines around Sydney. Central Sydney is therefore often referred to as "Eora Country". Within the City of Sydney local government area, the traditional owners are the Cadigal and Wangal bands of the Eora. There is no written record of the name of the language spoken and currently there are debates as whether the coastal peoples spoke a separate language "Eora" or whether this was actually a dialect of the Dharug language. Remnant bushland in places like Blackwattle Bay retain elements of traditional plant, bird and animal life, including fish and rock oysters.

With the invasion of the Sydney region, the Cadigal and Wangal people were decimated but there are descendants still living in Sydney today. All cities include many immigrants in their population. Aboriginal people from across the state have been attracted to suburbs such as Pyrmont, Balmain, Rozelle, Glebe and Redfern since the 1930s. Changes in government legislation in the 1960s provided freedom of movement enabling more Aboriginal people to choose to live in Sydney.

(Information sourced from Anita Heiss, "Aboriginal People and Place", Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City )

The site of the Former Skinners Hotel was part of the original grant to Edward Riley in 1823. The property was sold to Issac Simmons in 1845 and a hotel constructed in 1845-46, designed by architect Henry Robertson. There is no documentary evidence but it appears that this is the building standing today. The building was named the Clown Hotel and the publican for 1846-49 was George Skinner. Other occupants included Andrew Torning (1849-55); Jno. Turner (1855-58); and Ralph Tolants (1858-60). In 1860 it was named Turner's Hotel, and in 1866 became known as the Clarendon Hotel. Licensees at the time were Margaret Harris and Henry Barnett. The proprietor of the hotel in 1873 was Benjamin Fyffe. From this point the building ceased to function as a hotel and became a chemist shop until 1900. Walter and Herbert Shrimpton (hatters) leased part of the premises at this time. A. H. Phillips, Orwell Phillips, A. E. Phillips, Ernest Lawton Davis and Louis Morris Phillips were joint proprietors in 1931with an additional prop. Rex Cullen-Ward. A number of changes in the joint tenants resulted in the transfer of the property to Albert and Hannar Edmunds, George laird and R. G. Holdings in 1950. Hallam Limited were the proprietors in 1925 and the property was leased to Osbourne Henry Harding and Victor Read (mercers) for the first and second floor in 1923. Hallam sold the property to the Phillips partnership in 1927 who were in possession in 1935. In 1955 the building was transferred from John Fairfax to George Coultor, and to Advance Bank Australia Ltd. in 1987.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The former Skinners family Hotel is significant as the first hotel on the site dated c1845. The site is significant as part of the original Crown Grant to Edward Riley dated 1823. The building has some significance carrying the name of the original licensee of the hotel when first built in 1845. Has historic significance locally.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
It has significance as a possible site for scientific investigation due to the age of the building and the continued use of the site from the early years of European settlement . Has aesthetic significance locally. Cultural:It is significant as a fine and largely intact external example (if painted) of the style used in a corner hotel. The building is significant for its strong contribution to the character of the immediate area.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The building has significance as part of the network of small purpose built hotels providing a social / recreational venue and budget accommodation located within the CBD. It reflects the social character of the area during the nineteenth century. Has social significance locally.It is significant as a fine and largely intact external example (if painted) of the style used in a corner hotel. The building is significant for its strong contribution to the character of the immediate area.
SHR Criteria f)
It has significance as a rare surviving example of a building dating from 1845.
SHR Criteria g)
The building is representative of the style used in a prominent corner hotel which provided a social / recreational venue and budget accommodation. It is also a representative example of the style used in a small corner hotel in the city.
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: The form, scale and external original fabric of the building should be retained. All those materials which originally had a paint finish or are now painted should be repainted in complementary colours. There should be no alterations which break through the roofline or rise above the parapet level. Original window and door openings should not be enlarged or filled in but those areas such as the entrance to basement food shop could be altered, consideration should be given to restoring this opening to an entrance, more in keeping with the style of the building. Exterior: The original brick and render detailing of the facades should be retained. As the facade of the building on the two street frontages remains largely intact there should be no alterations which adversely impact on the original fabric, break the skyline or rise above the parapet. As the facade at ground floor level on both George and Hunter Streets has undergone some modification, changes to this area could be permitted but there should be no alterations which adversely impact on remaining original significant fabric such as brickwork, timber windows and rendered detailing. Interior: As the interior of the building at ground floor level has been extensively modified, further alterations to this area could be considered but any new work should not impact on any remaining original fabric or alter the window or door openings. Early fabric on the upper floor such as fireplaces, pressed metal ceilings and timber staircase should be retained and repaired. Areas on the upper floors where original fabric has been replaced with modern materials could be altered or repaired with similar materials; provided they do not adversely impact on remaining original fabric. The building should be retained and conserved. A Heritage Assessment and Heritage Impact Statement, or a Conservation Management Plan, should be prepared for the building prior to any major works being undertaken. There shall be no vertical additions to the building and no alterations to the fa├žade of the building other than to reinstate original features. The principal room layout and planning configuration as well as significant internal original features including ceilings, cornices, joinery, flooring and fireplaces should be retained and conserved. Any additions and alterations should be confined to the rear in areas of less significance, should not be visibly prominent and shall be in accordance with the relevant planning controls.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney LEP 2012I176614 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written  Sands Directory 1860-1880, Land titles, Sydney City Council DAs & BAs.
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City

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

(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2423765

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

All information and pictures on this page are the copyright of the Heritage Division or respective copyright owners.