House "Bidura" including interiors, former ball room and front garden | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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House "Bidura" including interiors, former ball room and front garden

Item details

Name of item: House "Bidura" including interiors, former ball room and front garden
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: House
Primary address: 357 Glebe Point Road, Glebe, NSW 2037
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
357 Glebe Point RoadGlebeSydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

A fine example of a Victorian Regency style villa in a garden setting designed by renowned architect Edmund Thomas Blacket which significantly contributes to the streetscape of Glebe Point Road. The building is a rare example of an early villa which is the last remaining 1850s villa within a garden setting on the eastern side of Glebe Point Road. The building has historical associative significance for its association with colonial architect Edmund Thames Blacket and his family, and former owners R M Stubbs and Frederick Perks. The site has high archaeological potential as an early villa site.
Date significance updated: 22 Oct 14
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: E. T. Blacket
Construction years: 1857-1862
Physical description: Bidura is a two storey Victorian Regency house with single storey wing to north and Italianate former ballroom to south, and is three storeys at the rear. It is set on a wide site that has retained its context. The building is setback from the street with a large and formally landscaped garden with carriageway, established trees and reinstated picket fencing which provides an appropriate setting for the house.

The façade presents a simple symmetrical elevation and is constructed of coursed rendered brick on a rendered masonry base course. The roof is hipped with a steep pitch and central valley, clad in slate and features four tall symmetrically located corbelled chimneys. There are s closed eaves with decorative brackets. A one-storey verandah runs across the façade and has a straight profile roof. It features cast iron columns and marble paving in "checker- board" paving. The front door is centrally located. Fenestration comprises vertically proportioned French doors at ground floor and vertically proportioned timber windows with louvred timber shutters at the first floor. The east elevation has a two-storey verandah.

The side wing is part of the Blacket's original design and has a slate clad gabled roof. Its verandah has the original timber roof structure, timber posts and corrugated iron cladding.

The interior of the main house is very simple in style and each floor is divided into four main rooms. The spatial characeristic of the rooms, including the high ceilings, repetative layout and position of the marble fireplaces have been retained. There are detailed and decorative plaster cornices and ceiling roses, timber detailing and a timber stairwell serving all three levels.

The lower floor was probably used for utilitarian functions and servants. It is actually a basement created by the fall of the land away from Glebe Point Road, somewhat similar to that of 'Rothwell Lodge.' There is a marble paved kitchen.

The ballroom is designed in the Victorian Italianate style with timber panelled doors with top light windows at the entrance. There are decorative sills and imposts around the northern timber framed windows. The roof is concealed by parapets with decorative cornices. The interior features a finely decorative patterned timber ceilings over both the ball room and annex, moulded skirting boards and picture rails, timber flooring and decorative cornices and ceilings roses.

In the area of the rear garden of Bidura, a seven storey Concrete Brutalist style Remand Centre and Children's Court was built in 1980.
Date condition updated:15 May 03
Modifications and dates: Late 19th century - ballroom added
1980 - Remand Centre and Children's Court constructed within the rear garden
Further information: 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: Children's Court and FACS Office
Former use: Residential


Historical notes: Historical Overview

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.

With the invasion of the Sydney region, the Cadigal and Wangal people were decimated but there are descendants still living in Sydney today.

The Sydney Glebe lands were granted to the Church of England in 1789, and in 1828 “to relieve the pressing needs of clergy”, Glebe was subdivided into 28 allotments and all but three lots (numbers 7,8 and 28) were offered for sale. The Glebe point precinct comprises 4 lots from the 1828 subdivision of the Glebe. Lot 1 was acquired by AB Spark, lot 2 by Mr James and lots 3-4 by Captain Dumaresq.While several of these villas were demolished at the time of these subdivisions, most survived on reduced lots, often as boarding houses until the mid 20th century. Demolition of the villas from after WW11 until the 1970s made way for higher density post war flat development, encouraged by the Cumberland Plan.

The 1828 subdivision made allowance for in roads into the Glebe; Bay Road and Glebe Road (Glebe Point Road) were created by cutting through bush, pulling out stumps and ‘filling in the largest of the holes’. Glebe Point Rd, or alternatively known as the Glebe Rd, opened up in 1829 as the initial exploitive action in the form of a tract with fence either side. This basic line of communication cut into the then dense forest covering the Glebe with only bush tracks made by drays penetrating off the Glebe Rd to the individual estates. A main influencing factor on the character of the subdivided areas of Toxteth Park Estate was the covenant, issued on the death of George Allen, in that being a devout Wesleyan no alcohol was to be brought on to the estate in the form of Hotel or Inn development, no commercial development, and that any building be constructed out of brick of stone or both. As a consequence of the covenants, the Glebe Point end as it became known was a very desirable and fashionable part of Sydney to live in, with some large houses being built along the Glebe Point Road around the turn of the century. These mainly belonged to a higher socio-economic group than would be found in the Church lands or other speculative pockets of the Glebe.

Kew Cottage built circa 1835, Forsyth Cottage (c. 1837) and Avon House (c. 1837) were early houses on Dumaresq’s land. Captain Dumaresq first subdivided his holdings as the Boissier Estate in 1840. Elmville (c.1844), Hawthorne (c.1844), Lynwood (c. 1851), Rothwell Lodge (c. 1847), Salem House (c. 1842), Bidura (c. 1857),) appeared on the Boissier subdivision.Further subdivisions and consolidation of Glebe Point occurred when the upper middle class vacated their grand villas for the suburbs in the late 19th century, with improvements in transport and the draw of the garden suburb, coupled with an increasingly industrial character to Blackwattle Bay with land reclamations. The Avona Estate was subdivided in 1899, the Strathmore Estate in 1894 and 1899. The Golden Estate and Glebe Heights Estate was subdivivded in 1908. This resulted in an overlay of speculative terrace development of a working class and middle class character, in the late Victorian and Federation styles.

Site History
357 Glebe Point Road dates from c.1858. ‘Bidura’ was designed by Edmund T Blacket as his residence and he also designed other major public and residential buildings in Glebe at this time when he was Colonial Architect.

1852 is the first date of Blacket being registered in Sands Directory. In 1853, Blacket moved from Oxford Street to Glebe, travelling by ferry to his offices with an escort of four men conveying him through the heavy timber to his home. He moved to Glebe presumably in order to be close to the University project, as this was one of his largest jobs. As an architect he is well known for a vast volume of work in connection with ecclesiastical projects and indeed St. Johns Bishopthorpe was a product of his office (1868-70) with his son Cyril Blacket adding to it at a later date.

Blacket resigned from public office in 1854 to work on the University of Sydney. On October 12 1854 Blacket called tenders for clearing the ground and laying part of the foundation of Sydney University.

Edmund Blacket bought the land on which 'Bidura' now stands in 1857 from Mr Donaldson. In May 1861 Blacket called tenders for fencing an allotment of land at the Glebe and then later in the same year on October 29 called tenders for a dwelling house on the Glebe Road. This may well have been for ‘Bidura.’

It was in Glebe that five of Blacket’s eight children were born. and one of them, his daughter Edith, sketched the family home in 1870, the year before the family moved to Balmain. The exterior of 'Bidura' is very little altered from this sketch which shows what seems to be a smaller version of 'Strathmore.' This view is taken from the north showing that part of the house away from Glebe Point Road and with the most favourable aspect.

Blacket's son Cyril was born in 1857 on Glebe Point and educated at the Aglington House School at Glebe Point and eventually entered his father’s office in December 1872 to form a partnership of Blacket & Son. Cyril became well known for his writings both in Art & Architecture and the Australian Technical Journal as well as being an active member of the N.S.W Institute of Architects. It has been quoted as saying:..'here he saw the glebe forest disappear as the city rapidly expanded'.

In 1870, after the death of his wife, Edmund Blacket sold the house to R.M. Stubbs, wife of the auctioneer, R.F. Stubbs. Sands Directories list the house in 1873 as Stubbs, R.F. - "Madwia" then in 1877, Stubbs, R.F. - "Bedura", then by 1879, Perks, F. - "Bidura". Frederick Perks, a solicitor, owned the house until well into the 1910s, and it could have been while he owned the house, that the ballroom was added.

Bidura has been used as a Girls’ home, The Metropolitan Shelter for Girls, and a Children’s court. In 1980, a large multi-levelled Remand Centre was built at the rear of the house. The house has been altered internally to suit this use.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
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. (none)-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes (none)-
7. Governing-Governing Welfare-Activities and process associated with the provision of social services by the state or philanthropic organisations (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
An early (c. 1858), surviving example of the substantial homes of the prosperous middle classes that once occupied the Glebe Point ridge. The building has historical significance for its ability to evidence early villas and reflects the development of Glebe Point Road as a prestige address.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The building has historical associative significance for its association with colonial architect Edmund Thames Blacket and his family, and the naming of Ferry Road and Ferry Lane, which are indicative of Edmund Blacket's early path to the harbour and wharf from the residence. It is also associated with other former owners including R. M. Stubbs and Frederick Perks.

Since the latter decades of the 20th century, the site has been associated with community service institutions, namely the Metropolitan Shelter for Girls, and a Remand Centre and Children's Court for the Department of Community Services. The site illustrates the successive re-use of the original residential structures for community related activities.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
A fine example of a Victorian Regency style villa in a garden setting designed by renowned architect E. T. Blacket which significantly contributes to the streetscape of Glebe Point Road.

The 1980s Remand Centre is a well executed and relatively intact example of late 20th century institutional architectural design which occupies almost the entire former site of the Bidura rear garden.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The site is of social significance for its lenghty associaiton with community service institutions since the latter decades of the 20th century.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The site has high archaeological potential as an early villa site.
SHR Criteria f)
The building is a rare example of an early villa with outstanding potential to be restored. This is the last remaining 1850s villa within a garden setting on the eastern side of Glebe Point Road.
SHR Criteria g)
An outstanding example of a Victorian Regency style villa in a garden setting that contributes to the streetscape.
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.

Recommended management:

The site should remain listed in the Heritage Schedule of the LEP. The house, including ballroom and side wing, carriageway and garden setting should be retained and conserved. The Conservation Management Plan, which dates from 1998, should be revised and updated. A Heritage Assessment and Heritage Impact Statement, should be prepared for the site prior to any major works being undertaken. All conservation, adaptive reuse and future development should be undertaken in accordance with the Australia ICOMOS Charter for Places of Cultural Significance (The Burra Charter). An archival and photographic recording, in accordance with Heritage Council guidelines, should be undertaken before major changes. Any reuse of Bidura House should respect and minimise changes to its formal character and sequence of rooms as per the Conservation Plan. Retain the formal and streetscape presence including the defined entrance to Glebe Point Road of Bidura House. The carriageway may be used for service access but not for parking. This building is currently well presented and should continue to be maintained. New work should aim to lessen the impact of additions to the rear.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney Local Environmental Plan 2012I76314 Dec 12   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Glebe Conservation Area Study2007 Architectural Projects  Yes
Leichhardt Municpal Heritage Study1990B25GMcDonald McPhee P/L  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City View detail
WrittenBerchervaise & Associates Pty Ltd1991Glebe Point Road Main Street Study, Stage Two
WrittenCraig Burton1979Housing The Glebe
WrittenGBA2015357 Glebe Point Road, Glebe Conservation Management Plan
WrittenNational Trust of Australia (NSW) Classification Cards
WrittenSchwager Brooks and Partners1998Bidura, 357 Glebe Point Road, Conservation Plan

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: 2427867

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.

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