Rift, (The) | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Rift, (The)

Item details

Name of item: Rift, (The)
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Mansion
Location: Lat: 0 Long: 0
Primary address: 12 Carlisle Street, Bowral, NSW 2576
Local govt. area: Wingecarribee
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
12 Carlisle StreetBowralWingecarribee  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The Rift is significant to the local community as one of the large Victorian "Gentlemen's Residences" in the area which provide evidence of the pattern of settlement in Bowral associated with the building of "summer houses" in the Southern Highlands - it provides evidence of the economic prosperity in the region during the 19th and early 20th century period. The building also has considerable regional and statewide aesthetic significance as a rare, idiosyncratic, remarkably intact example of a Victorian Italianate villa with "Moorish" inspired decoration, this significance being enhanced by the sound condition and high degree of intactness of original features and fabric.
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: 1890-1895
Physical description: Two-storey Italianate stucco brick house with basement. Elaborate plaster detailing inside and marble and timber chimney pieces. Indian influenced iron lace to two-storey side verandah but is now missing from the porte-cochere on the turning circle in the front of the house. Large central skylight to stair hall with curved timber lattice panelling below. Elaborate renderwork scrolls to eaves and rendered pediments over first floor windows. Elaborate (& unusual) panelled and glazed front door with fan and sidelights set in a recessed porch framed by richly moulded renderwork decoration. The extensive coach-house to the north of the house is constructed of timber.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The property has been variously used firstly as a residence, a commercial guest house, a boarding school for girls, a boarding school for the Marist Brothers, and then returned to a private residence in the 1960s. After the sale of the property by the Foleys in 2009 the building and gardens fell into disrepair. (Chris & Charlotte Webb Pty Ltd, 2011)
Date condition updated:12 Oct 11
Modifications and dates: Single storey wing (alterations and additions) to rear.

The house has been extensively renovated, with additions added to east and northern façades of the building to accommodate the schools and boarding house. These additions were removed by the Foleys between 1966 and 2009. (Chris & Charlotte Webb Pty Ltd, 2011)
Further information: Listed in the Local Environmental Plan for Wingecarribee, 1989.
Current use: Residential
Former use: Residential


Historical notes: The property was originally purchased following the 1881 Gibraltar Estate subdivision by PLC Shepherd. After two short owneships of the property, it was finally purchased in 1890 by Alfred Stanger Leathes, a wealthy Sydney merchant and bank manager, and his second wife Wilhelmina. Alfred Stanger Leathes built the house between 1890 and 1895. Alfred died in 1895 and was buried at Randwick. After living at the Rift for a number of years as a widow, Wilhelmina finally sold the property to the Campbell family in 1917.

The Campbells used the property as their family home until it was sold the Whinray family in 1937. Mrs Whinray proceeded to turn the property into a guest house, adding accommodation for 45 guests with up to a possible 60 guests accommodated. Extensions were added to the building, including extensive renovations to the northern façade of the building and the incorporation of two new bathrooms on the upper level of the main building. To provide more accommodation a new building was added to the north and the Coachhouse was recmodelled to provide a number of individual guest rooms.

The 1942, as a result of a potential threat to the safety of school children around Sydney Harbour, the Rose Bay Convent rented the property and sent their primary school boarders to live at The Rift.

The property was sold in 1952 to the Marist Brothers who operated a school on the property. A chapel with dormitories above was constructed in the levelled area to the west of the house. The chapel was later relocated to Gerroa. The Marist Brothers sold the property to Colin and Helen Foley in 1966. The Foleys extensively renovated and remodelled the house, coachhouse and garden over the following 40 years. (Chris & Charlotte Webb, 2011)

The Coach House is a large eclectic building with gable/hipped and skillion roof elements. It was originally built as a modest coach house, with a loft, stables, and coachman's residence. It was then enlarged with two extra wings to provide extra bedrooms for the boarding school, for which the Rift was used during the 1920s. It was at this point that the coach house took on its Federation appearance. The addition of extra rooms and the infill of the verandah on the north side and external stair to the south, reflect evolutionary add-ons to the building.

While the coach house is eclectic, it displays Federation decorative elements, such as the gable finials and turned verandah posts, c 1910. Cheaper and recycled materials were used to construct and adapt the building to meet changing needs.

The Rift would originally been part of a rural setting, when it was built as a gentleman's retreat. The residence and outbuildings are now part of a residential streetscape that includes buildings from various architectural periods, on smaller allotments.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Technology-Activities and processes associated with the knowledge or use of mechanical arts and applied sciences (none)-
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 (none)-
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. (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
This item is assessed as historically significant locally.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
This item is assessed as aesthetically significant statewide.
SHR Criteria f)
This item is assessed as aesthetically rare statewide.
SHR Criteria g)
This item is assessed as historically representative regionally.
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.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Regional Environmental PlanIllawarra REP No. 1 11 Apr 86 601595
Local Environmental PlanWLEP 2010I07816 Jun 10   
Local Environmental Plan - LapsedWLEP 1989 12 Jan 90 00700288
Heritage studyHeritage Study 1991 (JRC Planning Services)    

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Wingecarribee Heritage Study1991WI0078JRC Planning Services  Yes
Data base updating as part of Heritage Adviser duties.2007 Peter Kabaila and the people of Wingecarribee Shire.  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenCavanough, J., et.al.1988Gardens of the Southern Highlands Mrs C. Foley
WrittenChris & Charlotte Webb Pty Ltd2011Statement of Heritage Impact (LUA11/0899)

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: 2680078

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