Villa D'Este - house, stone retaining wall | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Villa D'Este - house, stone retaining wall

Item details

Name of item: Villa D'Este - house, stone retaining wall
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: House
Primary address: 1A Victoria Road, Bellevue Hill, NSW 2023
Local govt. area: Woollahra
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
1A Victoria RoadBellevue HillWoollahra  Primary Address
549 New South Head RoadBellevue HillWoollahra  Alternate Address

Statement of significance:

‘Villa d’Este’ is a sophisticated example of the Inter War Mediterranean architectural style.
It retains a high degree of associational historic significance as an outstanding and intact example of work of the architect F Glynn Gilling. The building appears not to have been significantly altered since its construction in 1930 and has retained a high degree of original fabric. This provides for a high level of aesthetic and moderate degree of technical significance, for its ability to demonstrate Gilling’s design, detailing and construction techniques in the Inter War Mediterranean architectural style.

1a Victoria Road demonstrates a high level of social significance through its listing by a number of special interest groups.

The house has a moderate degree of historical significance for its association with the original Cranbrook Cottage, the home of John Horbury Hunt. The listing of this building by a number of special interest groups indicates a relatively high level of social significance.
Date significance updated: 16 Jan 04
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: F Glynn Gilling whilst with Joseland & Gilling Architects
Builder/Maker: J. A. Smith
Construction years: 1930-
Physical description: ‘Villa d’Este’ is a two-storey lightly stuccoed Inter War Mediterranean style house sitting between New South Head Road and Victoria Road, Bellevue Hill. The low-pitched roof is clad in Spanish style pan tiles with a hidden gutter detail. The roof tiles end on a moulded fascia set flush against the face of the wall. Rectangular chimneys end in a simple pointed arch brick hood.

Smooth rendered quoins and keystone and ‘rope’ pattern surround the main entry opening along with ‘barley twist’ columns. Similarly decorated columns have been used on the ground floor loggia facing the harbour. The variety of treatments to the openings includes multi paned sashes fitted with metal security grilles and small windows with ‘fish scale’ patterned glazing bars. Also a number of windows are covered with turned timber grilles which sit out from the face of the wall under flat roofed awnings. French doors to a small semi circular Juliet balcony facing north have been detailed with the top corners cut out in a quarter circle fashion. Around the door is a wide, smooth rendered architrave with a patterned head to compliment it.

The front fence along Victoria Street is similarly rendered brickwork in a curved and stepped pattern, with decorative painted metal pedestrian and vehicular gates. On to New South Head Road is a major sandstone retaining wall with a pedestrian gate and steps leading up to the house.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The building appears to be in excellent condition externally and to have retained much of the original detailing intact. The joinery elements visible from Victoria Road appear to be in a very well maintained condition.
The interior of the house was not inspected.
Date condition updated:16 Jan 04
Modifications and dates: 1948 Extension to dining room and new ground floor bay window. New double doors to first floor bedrooms.
1985 Gazebo to pool.
Date unknown Small balconies to first floor bedroom doors.
Further information: Plans for two cottages on this site were prepared for Mr James Bennet and approved by Council in 1927, however they appear not to have been constructed on the site. The architect for these two cottages is unknown.
See also 1 Victoria road, ‘Daingeen
Current use: Residential
Former use: Residential


Historical notes: The house “Villa d’Este was built for Cecil Rhodes-Smith in 1930 to designs by Joseland and Gilling Architects. It lies on land that was originally part of the Point Piper Estate and later part of the grounds of “Cranbrook Cottage” built in 1873 by architect, John Horbury Hunt as his family home. Hunt was granted permission to purchase, on a 99 year lease, this half acre site on the corner of Victoria Road and New South Head Road because of his close associations with James White, who at that time owned Robert Tooths ‘Cranbrook Estate’. The cottage remained Hunts’ home until 1902 when he suffered financial losses and the property was foreclosed upon. Sir Thomas Hughes purchased “Cranbrook Cottage” in 1910 and resided there until 1925 when the house was demolished for the widening of New South Head Road. The remaining land was divided into two building allotments and Lot B was purchased by Cecil Rhodes-Smith in 1928. By 1933 Rhodes-Smith had purchased both allotments and had constructed the house Villa d’Este on allotment B. He re-subdivided the two blocks to give Villa d’Este more land and sold the new allotment A to Ethel Maude Packer, widow to the well known Sydney newspaperman Robert Clyde Packer in 1935. The house “Villa d’Este” was designed by architects Joseland and Gilling in June 1927 and was constructed in 1930. It would appear that Rhodes-Smith also engaged Joseland & Gilling to design the home that would later be built on allotment A. The property remained the home of the Rhodes-Smith’s until the death of Gladys Rhodes-Smith in 1979. The current owner, Brian Wade Rayment purchased the property with his wife and mother in 1979 and in 1990 became the sole owner.

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The site was originally part of a larger block containing ‘Cranbrook Cottage’, the home of John Horbury Hunt from 1873 till 1902. The house he designed for himself was demolished in 1925 to allow for the widening of New South Head Road from 66 to 100 feet.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
‘Villa d’Este’ exhibits a high degree of comparative and historical associational significance as one half of adjacent similarly styled houses designed by Gilling within five years of each other.

1A Victoria Road, Bellevue Hill, retains a high degree of associational historic significance as an example of the Inter War Mediterranean style of work practised by the architect F Glynn Gilling out of the offices of Joseland and Gilling. It has not been significantly altered over time so that the original external form of the building and manner of the detailing is still clearly interpretable.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
‘Villa d’Este’ contains a high degree of aesthetic significance. The building appears not to have been significantly altered since its construction in 1930. This structure is an example of the domestic commissions undertaken by Gilling. A high degree of original fabric survives to allow for further investigation and interpretation.

The building is a good example of the Inter War Mediterranean Style which was popular in the Inter War period.

An internal assessment was not carried out. Should intact original planning and/or fabric be found then the aesthetic value of the site would be significantly enhanced.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The listing of this building by a number of special interest groups indicates a high level of social significance.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
‘Villa d’Este’ contains a moderate degree of technical significance for its ability to demonstrate Gilling’s detail and construction techniques in the Inter War Mediterranean style.
SHR Criteria f)
The building does not fulfil the inclusion criteria for this value.
SHR Criteria g)
1A Victoria Avenue is significant for its role as one of the body of built examples of the work of F Glynn Gilling, and in its role as an intact Inter-War Mediterranean style design in the Woollahra Municipality generally.
Integrity/Intactness: The original fabric of the building remains largely intact externally. Aspects that make up the aesthetic significance of the building include the intact two-storey form with the entry porte cochere, retaining and front walls and external detailing.
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:

It is recommended that any future proposals for modifications to the house should respect the restrained manner of the massing and detailing of the original Gilling design. There should be no alterations that remove or modify the roof configuration, style and proportion of windows, associated glazing patterns and security grilles. A detailed internal and external measured survey and photographic recording of the building and site should be carried out and lodged with Council and the local heritage association. Authentic colour schemes should be employed on extant fabric.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanWoollahraLEP 199510 Mar 95 28 
Local Environmental PlanWoollahra Local Environmental Plan 20144223 May 15   
Heritage studyWoollahraBH-2301 Jan 84   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Inter-War Houses and Flats2001 Noel Bell Ridley Smith & Partners Architects  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenE Lindsay Thompson ‘Domestic Architecture in New South Wales’
WrittenLand Titles PA 1233 (1902)
WrittenLand Titles CT Vol 1636 Fol 248 (1905)
WrittenLFA (aust) Pty Ltd1997‘Villa d’Este’
WrittenSands Directory1932C Rhodes-Smith
WrittenSands Directory1931C Rhodes-Smith
MapSydney Water Various-as shown on each sheet
GraphicWoollahra Council Archives Former Building Applications submitted to Council

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: 2711464

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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