Hopewood House | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Hopewood House

Item details

Name of item: Hopewood House
Other name/s: Bailey House
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Mansion
Location: Lat: 0 Long: 0
Primary address: 201 Centennial Road, Bowral, NSW 2576
Local govt. area: Wingecarribee
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
201 Centennial RoadBowralWingecarribee  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

Hopewood is significant as a an example of a large scale residential property built within the Southern Highlands in the late nineteenth century. It is associated with the Osborne family and the Hordern family (also associated with Milton Park and Kerever Park). The property is also socially significant due to its use as childrens home from the end of WWII to 1967.

Hopewood is an excellent example of a late 19th Century Gentlemen’s Country Retreat. Despite the removal of all of its rural holdings, the remnant site demonstrates a lifestyle enjoyed by wealthy landholders in the Southern Highlands between 1880 and the Second World War. The house is an important example of the development of the area as a summer resort for the wealthy of Sydney
commenced after the establishment of the Southern Railway Line and the development of a station at Bowral. (Criterion a)

The place is significant for its association with its various owners, and in particular the Benjamin Osbornes who built it in 1885 and the Lebbeus Horderns who expanded the rural activities and established the elaborate gardens between 1912 and 1929. Alterations to the main house were carried out by Mr S.E. Sibley between 1929 and 1943. In the Post war era the place is significant for the philanthropic work of Leslie Owen Bailey who established the place as a Children’s Home. In the late
20th century the property was owned by the Society of St Gerard Magella and was used as Youth Centre and Retreat House.(Criterion b)

The Scottish Baronial style of the main house and the quality of its interiors make Hopewood an outstanding example of Late Victorian Design. This is enhanced by the later pleasure gardens that extend around the house and include a rare aviary/pavilion, tennis court and croquet lawn. The place has exceptional aesthetic appeal as a result of the various layers of development. (Criterion c)

Hopewood also has social significance for the many children who were raised there under the patronage of the Australian Youth and Health Foundation established by "Daddy" Bailey. (Criterion d)

Hopewood is one of a relatively small group of surviving rural building complexes in the area that demonstrate the evolution of living in the Southern Highlands from the 1880s to the present time. Despite its former use for some decades as a Children’s Home and a Religious Retreat, it remains as a private residence with the ability to demonstrate important aspects of this type of property and the lifestyle of its former owners. (Criterion g)

The significance of Hopewood is partially diminished by its separation from all of its surrounding rural holdings and the activities that took place there as an adjunct to the house and garden.
Date significance updated: 16 Aug 07
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: 1886-
Physical description: Hopewood contains a large house, two separate cottages, ‘The Pavilion’ a tennis court, a swimming pool, a croquet lawn, an aviary, a garden shed and several machine sheds and garages. The house is surrounded by a large formal garden containing walks, ponds, terraces and drives. The Pavilion is partially screened from the main house and gardens.

Hopewood was built in the Dutch Colonial style, with high ceilings, cedar woodwork, marble firplaces, stained glass panels and a large porte-cochere.

The house is of a general Victorian design, with one largely unexplained feature. The design leans heavily on South African Dutch Colonial architecture and houses similar to ‘Hopewood’ are quite common in the Cape colony.

Later additions include the portico, the large servants’ quarters on the main house, the pavilion and chauffeur’s quarters.

On the first floor each of the main bedrooms opens onto the verandah and on the bottom floor, the two main rooms have access to the verandah.

On a section of the verandah is an enclosed area of gauze wiring leading to the Solarium.

The verandah and solarium provided a summer/winter environment. In summer protection from insect pests was provided by the gauze and in winter, the solarium provided warmth of the sun without the cool wind that accompanied the winter temperatures.

Plaster was used on walls and ceilings and for decoration. Most of the cornice work would have been cast on site and possibly the designs may have been sculptured for the house.

Also in abundance at ‘Hopewood’ are the fireplaces. Around the fireplaces are the mantelpieces as one of the principal decorative elements in the dining room and the drawing room. Marble mantelpieces were preferred because it was more elegant than timber. Of all the rooms at ‘Hopewood’ that have a fireplace and ornamentation, they are marble except for one which is of wood and is painted to represent marble.

The chimney and the chimney breast is on the inside of the wall and not an attachment to the outside of the building. It followed the British practice where instead of the heat escaping out into the air, more of the heat can come through the brickwork into the room..

The Victorian love of ornament is seen in the tiles on the front downstairs verandah, in the bathrooms and kitchens.

Cast Iron as a decorative was popular in the 1870s and 1880s and ‘Hopewood’ originally had Cast Iron around the front and back first floor verandahs before they were closed in. The Cast Iron posts around the front top of the verandah remain.

Decorative glass was the rage in the middle to later part of the 1880s and at ‘Hopewood’, leadlight, painting, transfers and embossing were utilised to provide an element of decoration. The front door of the house is surrounded by leadlight stain glass. The general theme at ‘Hopewood’ seems to be that of ‘birds’, supposedly native ones. It seems that Lebbeus Hordern was responsible for some of these windows when he carried out extensive renovations on ‘Hopewood’.

‘Hopewood’ started with gaslighting. On the arrival of Lebbeus Hordern he converted the building to electric light and installed an electric generator. Many of the wall fittings where electric light is used, were originally the spots for the gaslighting.

Hopewood lies in is an area of some 5 hectares of remnant land excised from a larger rural property containing a large Late Victorian House and associated outbuildings including two cottages and a former stables complex converted as a function centre. The house is set in extensive formal gardens including terraced walks, pools, aviary, tennis court and croquette lawn.

The main house is of two storeys and is designed in a Scottish Baronial style with rendered walls a slate roof and a glazed conservatory. Later classical elements comprising a Porte Cochere and two storey verandah are additions from the late 1920s. A large two storey service wing is located at the rear of the house and connects with a single storey servant’s cottage.

To the east of the house is a conservatory structure that attaches to the house.

The house is approached from Centennial Road by a long driveway that divides to provide access to the house and to the function centre in the former stables.

A Tennis court and Edwardian Tennis Pavilion are located to the north of the house and a Croquet lawn is surrounded by low stone walling.

The gardens are terraced to take up the falls in the land and include long pergola walks, avenues and a pool and Aviary defined by clipped hedges.

To the west of the house approached by a teardrop shaped driveway and screened by vegetation are the former Edwardian Stables which have been substantially enlarged and modified and are known as The Pavilion.

A late 20th century visitor’s cottage and storage sheds are located to the north of the Pavilion.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The house, its outbuildings and grounds are in good condition and despite the separation of surrounding rural land and farm buildings represent an outstanding surviving example of a Gentleman’s Rural property of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Date condition updated:09 Dec 08
Modifications and dates: 1912 Alterations by Lebbeus Horden including construction of the Stables, now the Pavilion Function Centre. Reconfiguration of the gardens construction of Tennis Court Croquet Lawn , Aviary and Pool. Possible redecoration of the interiors of the house.

1929 Additions of Porte Cochere and two storey verandah to main house by S.E. Sibley in Classical Style.

1940s Enclosure of first floor verandahs and alterations to the original stables to create dormitories associated with the use as a Children’s Home.

Late 20th Century construction of visitors cottage 2 and garden shed

2000 Modifications to the Pavilion to enhance the function centre use of the building.
Further information: The main house has been substantially restored in recent times with the exception of the Conservatory and upper verandah.

The Gardens have undergone a process of renewal in the past 10 years including some modifications and additions of structures and plants.

Alterations to the original stables to create the dormitories and later the function centre have had a permanent impact on the heritage values of that building.
Current use: RES Religious
Former use: Residential


Historical notes: Ben Marshall Osborne purchased the western portion of the estate of the explorer John Oxley (12 acres) and built a large house in 1885 and called the property "Hopewood". The property was called after his first son, Hamilton Hope.

Hope was born on 2nd April 1869 on board Hawkesbury, enroute from England and legend has it that he was born as the ship rounded the Cape of Good Hope.

Ben’s wife Lucy, (nee Throsby) created a long driveway up to the house ending in a circular carriageway surrounding formal garden beds edged with tiles.

A pool, fountain and statues decorated the gardens to the side of the house.

Ben Osborne sold the property in 1912 to Lebbeus Hordern, the younger brother of Anthony Hordern (Milton Park) and Sam Hordern (Retford Park).

Mr S E Sibley owned the property between 1929 and 1943 and planted thousands of tulips and a large vegetable garden. He used ‘Hopewood’ as a country home. The property was maintained by a Manager and the dairy continued to operate. A new addition, the piggery, was begun.

The next owner was Leslie Owen Bailey who owned the property until 1967 when he willed it to the Society of St Gerard Majella. From the end of the Second World War, ‘Hopewood’ was a children’s home and the growing of fresh fruit and vegetables for the children took precedence over flower beds. Milk came unpasteurised from the dairy and was mixed with liquified molasses.

Bailey founded the Australian Youth and Health Foundation He was known as "Daddy Bailey" by the children who called ‘Hopewood’ home. He died on the 16th September 1964. The circumstances through which ‘Hopewood’ was given to the Society of St Gerard were unusual and unique. When some members of the then very tiny order agreed to sing at a wedding at Moss Vale in 1966, they didn’t know that the groom, Ronald, was a ‘Hopewood’ boy or that the wedding would introduce Mrs E M Cockburn, Governing Director of Youth Welfare and Brother John G Sweeney, the Superior General and Founder of the Society of St Gerard Magella. From that meeting came the gift from Youth Welfare Association of the house and 8 acres of surrounding land for the Society to establish a Youth Centre and Retreat House. A substantial amount of money was also given to begin the ongoing process of restoration and renovation.

‘Hopewood’ was used in the early stages for the retreat house and when the pavilion, the brick stables, became available the retreats were moved. This allowed the Society of St Gerard to continue to restore ‘Hopewood’ back to its early glory days.

In May 1997 Barry and Lynne Anstee bought the property and are restoring the house and garden to its original design.


In 1854 John and Henry Oxley, sons of John Oxley explorer, were granted 4,200 acres in the Parish of Mittagong. This land was part of 5000 acres which Governor Brisbane had authorised their father to buy but he had died after only paying a deposit for the land. In 1828 Governor Darling recommended the land be given as a gift to John Oxley’s sons as an acknowledgement of their father’s service to the
country but it wasn’t until August 1855 that deeds were finally issued by the Court of Claims. The grant was made in two portions with 4200 acres in the Parish of Mittagong and 800 acres in the Parish of Berrima.

Henry conveyed his share of the grant to his brother John who made the first subdivision of the land, an area of 200 acres, when he heard that the railway would be constructed through the district. The Southern Line was opened in 1869 with a station built at Bowral.

In 1869 John Oxley sold portion of the land to John Piggott who sold it to Benjamin Marshall Osborne in two sales dated 1869 & 1870. Osborne, the son of Irish immigrants owned large land holdings throughout NSW, and he constructed the house at Bowral as his family home in 1885. He named the house ‘Hopewood’ supposedly after the name of his first son, Hamilton Hope Osborne who was born
onboard the "Hawkesbury" as the ship rounded the Cape of Good Hope. ‘Hopewood ‘was constructed in a Scottish Baronial style.

Ben Osborne had married Lucy Throsby, of Throsby Park Berrima, in 1866 and the couple had ten children born between 1869 and 1889.They initially lived in the two storey stone building now known as the White Horse Inn in Berrima before building ‘Hopewood’ to house their large family.

Lucy Osborne was a keen gardener and created the long driveway and circular carriageway in which she created a formal garden in the form of a large parterre. These formal garden beds have been retained and are still an integral feature to the entrance of the historic home.

Old photographs show that much of the formal areas of the garden were laid out by the second owner Lebbeus Hordern who purchased the property in 1912.

The Hordern family owned other large properties in Bowral. Lebbeus’ father Samuel Hordern owned Retford Park which he built in 1887 and his brother Anthony Hordern built Milton Park in the early 1900s.

Lebbeus Hordern owned ‘Hopewood ‘until his death in 1929. He built the stables and the tennis pavilion and it is also thought that he erected the Aviary and the Pool. He was a keen gardener and during his ownership many of the formal areas of the gardens were laid out including the long brick pathways, the formal rose garden and sunken fernery garden. Much of this garden was restored during the 1990s.

The third owner, Samuel Edward Sibley, purchased the property in 1930 and lived there with his wife and daughter. During this period the Porte Cochere and the enlarged verandah were added to the original house. Sibley planted thousands of tulips and a huge vegetable garden. The family occupied only a small part of the main house and rented out the land for rural uses. Sibley sold the property, following much persuasion by Leslie Owen Bailey in 1944.

Leslie Owen Bailey, a wealthy Sydney businessman had founded the Youth Welfare Association of Australia in 1942 to care for destitute mothers and their babies. He had initially purchased ‘Belhaven’ in Bellevue Hill to accommodate pregnant women and babies and when this proved too small he looked for a larger property in the country where the children could have the benefit of fresh air and where fresh fruit and vegetables could be grown. 2 At ‘Hopewood’ the Youth Welfare Association raised eighty six children from babyhood through into their teenage years.

Bailey purchased ‘Hopewood’ on 746 acres for £41,000 in 1944. It included the house, land, furniture and equipment. He converted the old stables into a building known as The Pavilion which together with the main house were used to accommodate the children who called Hopewood their home. The open verandahs of the main house were enclosed for use as dormitories.

Bailey, who had studied nutrition following his own illness earlier in his life, believed in giving the children in his charge a balanced diet of natural foods and they were all raised as vegetarians. Ten acres of the grounds at Hopewood were used for vegetable growing while an orchard produced an abundance of fruit. As a result the Hopewood children had excellent health and were almost never ill.

The Hopewood experiment on childrearing is almost unique in Australian history and has been the subject of academic study.

When the children were teenagers Bailey decided it would be more beneficial to house the children in smaller family groups and purchased houses in Manly, Mosman, Canberra and Maroubra. Finally only a few boys remained at ‘Hopewood’ some still studying and others running the dairy and farm.4

Following the death of Leslie Owen Bailey in 1964 a new owner was sought for Hopewood House. Bailey had left instructions that the house continued to be used in the area of youth welfare and in 1970 the house on just over 9 acres was given to an order of the Catholic Church, known as The Society of Saint Gerard Majella, and ‘Hopewood’ was used as a monastery and retreat centre for youth. During this time the brothers worked to restore Hopewood and its gardens to its former grandeur. The nine acres did not initially include the Pavilion (stables) which were leased to the Youth Hostel Association until 1983 when it was transferred to The Society of Saint Gerard Majella and used as a retreat centre and conference centre. Each Christmas The Pavillion was made available for the Hopwood Children’s Christmas reunion. The property now contained 4.594 ha just over 11 acres.

In 1994 the order was closed following revelations of child molestation by the three founders and all their properties were sold.

In 1997 Hopewood House and gardens were purchased by Relgrove Pty Limited. The house became the owner’s private residence while the Pavilion (old stables) were renovated and converted for use as a conference and function centre. During this ownership the house interiors were extensively restored and the grounds were brought back to their early 20th century grandeur.

The current owners Michael and Suzanne Anderson purchased Hopewood in September 2007 for use as their family home and to continue a commercial use for The Pavilion.

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 (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)-


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanWLEP 2010I53216 Jun 10   
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Wingecarribee Heritage Study1991WI0532JRC Planning Services  Yes
Database updating by Strategic Planner2008 Sarah Websdale Farnese  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written  Historic Hopewood
WrittenNoel Bell Ridley Smith & Partners2007Conservation Management Strategy for Hopewood, Centennial Road, Bowral

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

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2680532

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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