Fairwater | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Fairwater

Item details

Name of item: Fairwater
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: House
Location: Lat: -33.8717694893 Long: 151.2493929140
Primary address: 560 New South Head Road, Double Bay, NSW 2028
Local govt. area: Woollahra
Local Aboriginal Land Council: La Perouse
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT88 DP1000045
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
560 New South Head RoadDouble BayWoollahra  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

Fairwater, is a large domestic residence constructed in 1882 with additions made in c.1901 and 1910, with former stable (c.1900s) and garage (1930), situated on a large suburban allotment fronting Port Jackson with mature garden landscaping including notable trees. The property is of rare historic, aesthetic, social and scientific significance in consideration of its continuing association with the Fairfax family, and as a large late-nineteenth century residence (with Edwardian era additions), of high integrity, designed by John Horbury Hunt. (Clive Lucas, Stapleton & Partners Pty Ltd, 1999, amended Read, S., 6/2006)
Date significance updated: 08 Jun 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.

Description

Designer/Maker: John Horbury Hunt (1882) & J.W. Manson (c.1910/11)
Builder/Maker: Post 1910 alterations undertaken by Stuart Bros.
Construction years: 1882-1970
Physical description: Property, grounds and stables:
11,210 square meters, stretching from New South Head Road to Seven Shillings Beach (Wilmot & Allen, 2018, 3).

The retaining walls are of rubble construction with no mortar in the bedding joints. The stone is sandstone, probably local.

The front (carriage) drive is surfaced in asphalt with brick edging. The brick edging is contemporary with the retaining walls.

The grounds could not be considered particularly interesting examples of a formal garden style. It does however retain a large area, with extensive lawns towards the harbour and a number of mature and fine specimens of native and exotic trees such as a Bunya Pine (Araucaria bidwillii), Port Jackson figs (Ficus rubiginosa), silky oaks (Grevillea robusta), camphor laurels (Cinnamomum camphora) and jacarandas (J.mimosifolia), which are indicative of earlier phases of occupation from, conceivably, the 1870s (Clive Lucas, Stapleton & Partners Pty Ltd, 1999, modified, Read, S., 6/2006).

The property contains a particularly fine specimen of twin-trunked Bunya pine and an unusually large Southern/evergreen magnolia of note in the lower rear garden to the beach. The front garden and driveway is a private glen of trees of massive proportions and scale. This area is dominated by the camphor laurels in the central turning area to the residence, while the upper area to the front property boundary is dominated by large Port Jackson figs with massive coalesced aerial roots and extensive buttressing. The canopies of these trees extend to the carriageway. The intertwined and entangled canopies of all these trees form a closed and wild woodland garden of great aesthetic appeal. In addition, this canopy is topped by two very tall emergent silky oaks which are amongst the largest in the municipality. These trees are native to the subtropical rainforests of northern NSW and south-eastern Queensland. Another specimen of this species of similar age and structure is located in the neighbouring property of 574 New South Head Road.

All these trees are notable as typical of plantings in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Their size and scale lend themselves to grand landscape schemes appropriate for early large estates. The lush green foliage of these trees continues a general theme throughout the harbourside suburbs and their position and size make them visually significant from the harbour, local environs and particularly on the approaches along New South Head Road. Moreover, the large neighbouring estate of 'Elaine' 550 New South Head Road and especially the neighbouring Council Chambers/Blackburn Gardens (former 'Redleaf') property have important collections of historic species and they visually support this planting theme (WMC, 1991).

Summary of Listed Trees (1991 Woollahra Significant Tree Register)
1 No. Bunya Pine (Araucaria bidwillii)
3 No. Camphor Laurels (Cinnamommum camphora)
2 No. Port Jackson Figs (Ficus rubiginosa)
2 No. Silky Oaks (Grevillea robusta)
1 No. Magnolia grandiflora (added by Stuart Read, noted later in S.T.R. text as significant proportions).

Botanical Name: Araucaria bidwillii
Common Name: Bunya Pine
Significance Attributes: Component of Mixed Informal Group, Historic, Visual Dominance (Harbour/ District/ Local)
Origin: Ornamental/ Cultivated
Location: Located near the eastern boundary of the lower lawn terrace of the rear northern garden. property boundary with "Carthona".
Height: 22 metres
Canopy Spread: 10 metres
Trunk Diameter: 1.2 metres (@ 1.0 metre above ground level)
Estimated Age: 100+ years
Condition/ Health: Very good condition and health.

Botanical Name: Cinnamommum camphora
Common Name: Camphor Laurel
Significance Attributes: Informal Group, Historic, Visual Dominance (District/ Local)
Origin: Ornamental/ Cultivated
Location: Located in the front southern garden, main central vehicular turning area and entry to the residence.
Height: up to 26 metres
Canopy Spread:up to 25 metres
Trunk Diameters: multi-trunked, 1.5-2.0 metres (@ 1.0 metre above ground level)
Estimated Age: 100+ years
Condition/ Health: Generally very good condition and health. One tree has been severely lopped.

Botanical Name: Grevillea robusta
Common Name: Silky Oak
Significance Attributes: Two Specimens, Historic, Visual Dominance (Harbour/ District/ Local)
Origin: Ornamental/ Cultivated
Location: Located within the densely wooded front southern garden and approximately 3-5 metres below carriageway level.
Height: up to 25 metres
Canopy Spreads: 12-15 metres
Trunk Diameters: 900mm-1.0 metres (@ 1.0 metre above ground level)
Estimated Age: 100+ years
Condition/ Health: The smaller specimen is in very good condition with a dense canopy. The larger specimen has a damaged crown, possibly from the effect of storms and in need of tree surgery.

Botanical Name: Ficus rubiginosa
Common Name: Port Jackson Fig
Significance Attributes: Two Specimens Component of Mixed Informal Group, Historic, Visua Dominance (District/ Local)
Origin: Ornamental/ Cultivated
Location: Both specimens located in front southern garden, 3-s metres below carriageway level.
Height: up to 16 metres
Canopy Spread: up to 25 metres
Trunk Diameter: 1.0-1.5 metres (@ 1.0 metre above ground level)
Estimated Age: 100+ years
Condition/ Health: Both specimens in very good condition and health. The larger specimen has received major pruning to the crown.

Stables:
The stable is of brick construction with a timber-framed gable roof. The bricks used in the construction, being a dark red, are different in colour to that found in the main house.

House:
The residence is a double storey structure of brick construction with a timber-framed roof originally constructed in 1882 with additions c.1901, and in particular from 1910s. The exterior appearance is characterised by the use of a brick, which is pale yellow in colour. The roof is covered in slate tiles. Additions made c.1910/11 often include the use of sandstone (i.e. in the verandah and carriage porch) which is very reddish in colour.

The windows throughout are timber framed, being either single or double hung sashes, with some casement windows. Most windows are fitted with a set of timber louvred shutters. The window glazing, in addition to the predominant use of clear glazing, also includes diamond patterned leadlight, and stained glass.

The roof is a series of timbered gables with battened ends and pebble dash finish. These gables are the work of Manson and Pickering, architects, c.1910/11 and are in the Arts and Craft style embellishing Hunt's simple form by a series of projecting bay windows, and balconies.

The south elevation fronting New South Head Road includes a rusticated large sandstone carriage porch, and the north elevation fronting Double Bay has a wide verandah with a colonnade of sandstone columns in the Doric order. Manson and Pickering added both of these features in c.1910/1911.

The interior of the house is characterised both by the need to provide service and living wings, and the fact that the house is principally a conglomeration of the work of two architects - John Horbury Hunt and Manson and Pickering.

The lower floor is a suite of living and service rooms, and the upper for the living and bathrooms for both staff and occupants. Individual elements of note are the stained glass picture windows of 1882, chimney-pieces, door furniture, a painted ceiling of 1882, and mosaic floor of 1882 (Clive Lucas, Stapleton & Partners Pty Ltd, 1999).
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physical condition is excellent. Archaeological potential is medium. (Clive Lucas, Stapleton & Partners Pty Ltd, 1999)
Date condition updated:24 Dec 13
Modifications and dates: Addition of the library and relocation of the stair hall, c.1900s.
Construction of stable, c.1900s.
Additions of the ground floor drawing room, port-cochere, verandah on harbour side, and an upstairs sitting room, c.1910/11. Manson and Pickering, architects.
Alterations to the upper floor of the servant’s wing, 1924. Weston and Hoare, architects.
Additional verandah on the second floor on the elevation fronting Double Bay. 1926. Stuart Bros. builders.
Construction of garage, and alteration to stable. 1930. Neave and Berry, architects.
Additional first floor bathroom off main bedroom and sitting room. 1936. Stacey A. Neave, architect.
Alteration to the window of the library. 1952. Stuart Bros., builders.
Alterations to upgrade bathroom fittings, staff quarters, etc., c.1966
Construction of swimming pool and reinforced concrete retaining wall, 1970. (Clive Lucas, Stapleton & Partners Pty Ltd, 1999)
Further information: Land title is in one lot, and closely approximates original leasehold title issued in 1863, with additions made in 1924 and 1936. Land title is inclusive of Seven Shillings Beach. Listing should exclude swimming pool and associated reinforced concrete wall.
Current use: Residential estate
Former use: Aboriginal land, rural estate, residential

History

Historical notes: The crown grant was part of Captain John Piper's 190 acres Point Piper Estate officially granted in 1820. This grant was subsequently acquired by Daniel Cooper and Solomon Levy in 1830. The subdivision of this part of Cooper's estate, known as the Point Piper Estate, commenced in the mid 1850s.

The first leasehold title to the allotment, which was to become Fairwater, was made in January 1863 to Edwin Thomas Beilby. Beilby (c.1822-1906) was a businessman associated with many of the prominent Sydney financial institutions of the nineteenth century. The leasehold title was for a period of 99 years 9 months, of an area of 2 acres 13 perches, with an annual rental set at (Pounds)52 for the duration of the lease.

During the mid 1870s Beilby was bankrupted, and in June 1875 Beilby's official assignee, F.T. Humphreys, sold the allotment through the auction house of L.E. Threlkeld. The purchaser of the leasehold allotment was James White of Cranbrook. White (1828-1890) was a member of the pioneering Hunter Valley family of pastoralists. After a short period as a member of the Legislative Assembly between 1864 and 1868, in 1873 White bought Cranbrook (which was built for Robert Tooth in 1859), directly opposite Fairwater,

In March 1882, Francis Edward Joseph purchased the leasehold title from James White for the sum of (Pounds)500 (plus the annual rental of (Pounds)52). Joseph (1858-?) was the only son of Samuel Aaron Joseph (1824-1898), MLA and MLC. Joseph is generally referred to as a stockbroker by profession. Joseph adopted his wife's family name (Carnegy) in 1915 on inheriting the feudal barony of Lour in Angus, Scotland.

Fairwater was constructed for Joseph in 1882 to a design by arguably the most original architect to practice in Australia in the last quarter of the nineteenth century - John Horbury Hunt. Hunt (1838-1904) was a Canadian born architect who arrived in Sydney in 1863. Closely affiliated with the Bishop of Armidale and Grafton, and the White family of pastoralists, Hunt's work is particularly evident in New England and the Hunter Valley.

The Josephs resided at the house, which was called Fairwater from c.1884, for the period 1883 and 1887. During 1888 to 1889 the property was leased to Thomas Forster Knox (1849-1919), son of Sir Edward Knox, the founder of the Colonial Sugar Refining Co., and later chairman of this company. The Josephs returned to occupy the house in 1890 and continued to reside there for most of that decade up to 1897 when the house was again tenanted, initially in 1897 by Thomas Buckland (the son of the merchant, pastoralist, and banker - Thomas Buckland), and then by the Royal Navy for the years 1899 and 1901.

The Fairfax family ownership of Fairwater, which continues to this day, commenced in late 1900 with the assignment of the leasehold of 2 acres and 13 perches to James Oswald Fairfax. The purchase price of the leasehold title was (Pounds)5,350. James Oswald Fairfax (1863-1928) was the third son of the proprietor of the Sydney Morning Herald, Sir James Reading Fairfax (1834-1919), and grandson of the founder of that newspaper - John Fairfax (1804-1877). In March 1909 J.O. Fairfax bought out the leasehold title to the 2 acres 13 perches from the Cooper family.

Following the acquisition of freehold title, J.O. Fairfax engaged Sydney architect John Williamson Manson of Manson and Pickering to further remodel the Horbury Hunt house, with alterations being undertaken sometime after 1910. Manson (c.1863-1922) was Scottish born and trained in Glasgow in the office of Alexander 'Greek' Thomson (1817-1875). He arrived in Sydney in the mid 1880s. George A. Taylor's (the publisher of Building) obituary of Manson stated that 'he was one of the greatest architects of our time'.

After the death of Sir James Oswald Fairfax in 1928, the title to the property was transferred in 1930 to his widow, Lady (Mabel Alice Emmeline) Fairfax (1871-1965), son, Warwick Oswald Fairfax (1901-1987), and brother and power of attorney, Geoffrey Evan Fairfax (1861-1930).

Following the death of Lady Fairfax in 1965, the title to the property was transferred to Warwick Oswald Fairfax in August 1966. Warwick and his family moved permanently into Fairwater in late 1968. Warwick Oswald Fairfax (1901-1987) joined staff of Sydney Morning Herald in 1927, and was appointed director in 1927. Following the death of his father in 1928, Warwick was appointed managing director and chairman of directors in 1930. Following the incorporation of John Fairfax Ltd. in 1956 he was appointed chairman, a position he retained until 1977. He was knighted in 1967.

Following the death of Sir Warwick in 1987, the house continued to be lived in by his widow, Lady Fairfax. (Clive Lucas, Stapleton & Partners Pty Ltd, 1999). Also in 1987 their son, Warwick Fairfax privatised the publicly-listed media company, only for it to collapse (in a major stockmarket downturn) three years later (Macken, 2017, 4).

Lady Mary Fairfax (nee Marie Wein, b.15/8/1922) died in September 2017. In 1964 she established the Australian Opera Auditions, in cooperation with the Metropolitan Opera in New York. This was the first of a string of charitable organisations connected with the arts which she joined or initiated. She had lived at Fairwater since 1968, where she conducted a never-ending salon where guests were able to admire the art works of Rodin, Epstein, Dobell and Degas. Among those she entertained were actor Rudolf Nureyev, politician Pierre Trudeau, actor Phyllis Diller, entertainer Liberace, actor Glenda Jackson, Emilio Pucci and Imelda Marcos, first lady of the Philippines. The Sydney Swans were launched at Fairwater. In 1973 it was the scene of a ball for 1000 to celebrate the opening of Sydney Opera House. Another famous party at the house was the Concourse of Canine Elegance. Lady Fairfax was awarded an OBE in 1975 for her services to the community and the arts. Lady Fairfax was still active socially in the late 1990s (Lawson, 2017). Lady Fairfax had stated publicly that she planned to bequeath Fairwater to the people of NSW when she died. Following her death on monday (18/9/17) aged 95, it remains to be confirmed if her beneficiaries plan to hold to that long-ago plan (Macken, 2017, 4).

For nearly 60 years, Lady Fairfax had an extraordinary impact on the social, artistic, philanthropic, political and cultural life of not just Sydney, but the entire country. Since she became Warwick Fairfax's third wife in 1959, Lady Fairfax had assumed the position of First Lady of a mind-bogglingly large and influential media empire, which at its peak ranked as one of the most impressive in the world, publishing a raft of prestigious newspapers including 'The Sydney Morning Herald', 'The Age' and 'The Australian Financial Review', as well as a vast network of magazines, radio and television stations (Hornery, 2017, 1). Over the years, Fairwatre housed one of the most extraordinary collections of priceless artworks and objets d'art, not just in Australia, but the world. These include a 2m tall bronze nude sculpture by Rodin, other priceless works by Chagall, Degas and Boyd (Hornery, 2017 (2), 18).

To this day, gardeners tend Fairwater's lawn and 'cook' remains busy in the kitchen and maids hurriedly make their way around the labyrinth of stairways and rooms to the constant whir of vacuum cleaners. Fairwater is a real-life, modern-day Sydney version of Downton Abbey, though no longer home to once-formidable chatelaine Lady (Mary) Fairfax, who died in September, aged 95. The contents of Lady Fairfax's will, details of which were published in the Murdoch press, to the horror of the Fairfax family - provisions were made for Fairwater to continue providing a roof over the heads of a collection of long-term live-in staff who served, waited on and cared for the Fairfax family for generations. PS gleaned this week that there were about eight full-time staff working at Fairwater at the time of her death, as well as care nurses and her beloved 'private secretary', the equally formidable and steadfastly discreet Lee Thomas. Named as one of the executors of the $600m plus estate, she gets to call Fairwater home. Thomas is now spending more time at the property. She worked exclusively for Lady Fairfax for more than 30 years, organising everything from her social engagements to her charitable pursuits, as well as helping compile the eight page christmas card for which Mary was famous. Over the years, Thomas' job evolved into managing Fairwater, ultimately as director of some of Lady Fairfax's companies, though her key role was ensuring the overall welfare of the aging matriarch (Hornery, 2018, 20).

Lady Fairfax, with Thomas' help, employed and managed a small army of staff, often with mixed results, such as the time a maid 'cleaned' a marble garden statue with bleach, destroying its patina. There was her chauffeur 'Ted', who had once worked for the Australian diplomatic corps in New York, only to spend many years ferrying Mary around Sydney in one of her Rolls Royces. In the 1980s she was once banned from flying for five days by her New York doctor because of an eye ailment. She famoously ordered her chauffeur to buy a Rolls Royce to drive from New York to Los Angeles. Living in a cottage on Fairwater's grounds for many years were Joe and Doreen Welton, a husband and wife team who were her butler and maid from the 1960s to late 1980s, when they retired to Queensland. But even after retirement the Weltons would return to Fairwater to help their beloved 'Lady M' for big occasions. Doreen ided five years ago, and Joe last year. Fairwater's title was transferred to the will's executors on February 20, following probate being granted in January. Ultimately Lady Fairfax's estate is to be divided between her four children: Garth Symonds, Warwick Fairfax, Anna Cleary and Charles Fairfax. But given the will's provisions to provide a home for her live-in staff for an indefinite period, any plans the children may have to sell the sprawling house and grounds, considered by many to be the best in the country, could face some serious hurdles (Hornery, 2018, 20).

Fairwater is for sale with a price tag of $100m plus, making it the most expensive Australian residential property to go to market. Ken Jacobs of Christies International is dealing with Sothebys International over the listing. The appointment to sell it was made by the trustees of the late Lady Fairfax's estate. The property will be sold with vacant posession. Its size allows subdivision. The will made no explicit mention of how Fairwater was to be bequeathed, although trustees had power of sale of all assets in the trust fund. The four executors became individual trustees of the new Lady Fairfax Trust. Her fortune was left to her four children. Warwick Fairfax Jr., who launched the failed Fairfax takeover in 1987, her adopted children Charles Fairfax and Anna Clearly and lawyer Garth Symonds, Lady Fairfax's son from a previous marriage (Wilmot & Allen, 2018, 3).

While the pending sale of Fairwater is awaited, specluation on the fate (likely auction) of its considerable contents ensues. Sothebys International will market the real estate property. It is unclear who might auction its contents first (Hornery, 8-9/9/2018). Mike Cannon-Brookes, co-founder with Scott Farquhar of Atlassian, bought Fairwater estate for about $100 million on Wednesday. Farquhar bought neighbouring Elaine, the Fairfax family estate, in 2017 for $71m. Property and iron ore billionaires might dominate the top rungs of the rich list, but Atlassian's rise shows how the wealth tide is changing and a flotilla of tech entrepreneurs are becoming a force in Australian business circles (Kruger, 2018, 2).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Topography: How did the environment, topography and the River influence early settlement? Is there a strong relationship-Peopling the Continent Contact
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Cultural - Coasts and coastal features supporting human activities-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services Printing-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Communication-Activities relating to the creation and conveyance of information Communicating by the printed word-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Developing local, regional and national economies-National Theme 3
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Sydney and Australian Landmark-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes and gardens of domestic accommodation-
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. Housing the prosperous - mansions in town and country-
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. Gentlemens Mansions-
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. Housing famous families-
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. Housing professional people-
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. A Picturesque Residential Suburb-
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. Victorian era residence-
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. housing (suburbs)-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal 1820s-1850s land grants-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Changing land uses - from rural to suburban-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Sub-division of large estates-
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 19th century suburban developments-
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 Subdivision of urban estates-
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 Urban residential estates-
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 Creating landmark structures and places in suburban settings-
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 living in the suburbs-
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 Cultural Social and religious life-
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 Garden-
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 Gentlemens Villas-
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 Developing suburbia-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Servants quarters-
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. Interior design styles and periods - Victorian-
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. Architectural styles and periods - Federation Arts and Crafts-
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. Landscaping - Federation period-
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. Adaptation of overseas design for local use-
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. Landscaping - 20th century interwar-
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. Landscaping - Victorian gardenesque style-
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. Architectural styles and periods - Victorian (late)-
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. Editing and publishing newspapers-
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. Building in response to climate - ocean pools and baths-
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. Designing landscapes in an exemplary style-
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. Building in response to climate - verandahs-
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. Designing in an exemplary architectural style-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Ways of life 1850-1900-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Ways of life 1900-1950-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Ways of life 1950-2000-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Living in suburbia-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Ornamental Garden-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Kitchens and servants-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Living in, adapting and renovating homes for changing conditions-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Valuing women's contributions-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Outdoor relief-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation musical gatherings-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Activities associated with relaxation and recreation-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Gardening-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Going dancing-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Going swimming-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Gathering at landmark places to socialise-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Community volunteering-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Red Cross activities-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Fund-raising activities for community charities-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Places of informal community gatherings-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Participating in women's organisations-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Developing exclusive clubs-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Developing and maintaining a local art gallery-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Developing local clubs and meeting places-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups (none)-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with John Horbury Hunt, architect-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Sir Warwick Oswald Fairfax, businessman-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Francis Edward Joseph, stockbroker-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Sir James Oswald Fairfax, businessman, newspaper proprietor-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Lady Mabel Fairfax, society wife-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with the Hon. James White, grazier, horse breeder and racer, MLC-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Manson and Pickering, architects-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Lady Mary Fairfax, philanthropist-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Fairwater is of historical significance in consideration of its long association with the Australian publishing family company founded by John Fairfax in 1841, whose descendants have lived in the house since c.1901 to the present. It is also historically significant for it association with the Joseph family of merchants who built the house in 1882, and the architect they employed to build it - John Horbury Hunt. (Clive Lucas, Stapleton & Partners Pty Ltd, 1999)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Aesthetically, Fairwater is an excellent and rare example of the combined works of John Horbury Hunt and James Williamson Manson, the architect who sympathetically enlarged the Hunt era house to a form that is basically seen today. The exterior includes excellent examples of face brick work with rusticated sandstone details, while the interior retains period finishes and fittings such as stained glass picture windows, painted ceiling, decorative mosaic floor, door leafs and door furniture, panelled walls, and chimney-pieces which are now rare in consideration of their integrity and quality. The grounds contain an extensive system of sandstone retaining walls which is significant in consideration of its age and rarity, and a number of mature trees (such as a Bunya Pine, Port Jackson Figs, Silky Oaks, Camphor Laurels, and Jacarandas), dating, in part from the initial European improvement of the area following subdivision. (Clive Lucas, Stapleton & Partners Pty Ltd, 1999)
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Fairwater has social value in that it is recognised by the community as a place of high historic interest in consideration of its association with the Fairfax family, and as a place which demonstrates through its siting, scale and quality, a style of living of the upper middle classes which has now largely vanished. (Clive Lucas, Stapleton & Partners Pty Ltd, 1999)
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Fairwater has research value as a rare example of a large Victorian/Edwardian domestic residence and grounds, which retain a high degree of integrity in both its individual components and planning. (Clive Lucas, Stapleton & Partners Pty Ltd, 1999)
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The association between Fairwater and the Fairfax family in view of the longevity of ownership and occupation by two generations, Sir James Oswald Fairfax (1863-1928) and Sir Warwick Oswald Fairfax (1901-1987), of managing directors of this family publishing company.

The association between Fairwater and the Joseph family in view of the family’s notable commercial and political achievements.

The association between Fairwater and the retention of a land title boundary, which fronts Port Jackson.

The location of Fairwater within an area of heritage items and its contribution to this waterfront precinct of high aesthetic value.

The location of Fairwater on the foreshore of Double Bay in consideration of the views of Port Jackson.

The hard landscaping feature of the stone retaining walls being both part of the earlier build of the house and as an element which set the garden and house within the land allotment.

The plantings within a large land holding situated on the foreshore of Port Jackson. (Clive Lucas, Stapleton & Partners Pty Ltd, 1999)
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The association between Fairwater and J.W. Manson in view of the house being one of a number of new buildings undertaken by Manson and Pickering in the local area during the period c.1900-1912. (Clive Lucas, Stapletopn & Partners Pty Ltd, 1999)
Integrity/Intactness: Of high integrity in view of the retention to date of the original leasehold (made in 1863) allotment size.

Of high integrity in view of the continuation of the historical use of the house with principal and staff quarters.

Of high integrity as a large family residence which at its core is John Horbury Hunt’s simple, but avant-garde design, embellished by the Manson and Pickering alterations. (Clive Lucas, Stapleton & Partners Pty Ltd, 1999)
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:

Preparation of a CMP prior to any proposed change of use, and/or change in ownership.

Recommendations

Management CategoryDescriptionDate Updated
Recommended ManagementProduce a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) 
Recommended ManagementPrepare a maintenance schedule or guidelines 
Recommended ManagementCarry out interpretation, promotion and/or education 

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

FRANK SARTOR
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0138127 Mar 00 392389
Local Environmental Plan  10 Mar 95   
National Trust of Australia register      
Register of the National Estate  21 Mar 78   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenClive Lucas, Stapleton & Partners Pty Ltd1999Fairwater, Assessment of Significance
GraphicDavis, W.H1901Photograph Album
WrittenHornery, Andrew2018'Lady Fairfax stakes a claim to being fairest of them all'
WrittenHornery, Andrew2018'Art world salivates at Fairwater sale'
WrittenHornery, Andrew2017'Lady Mary Fairfax, 1929-2017: From frock shop to media dynasty: raising eyebrows along the way'
WrittenHornery, Andrew (2)2017'Waiting game for Lady Fairfax family'
WrittenKruger, Colin2018'Rise of the tech heads: changing of wealth tide'
WrittenLawson, Valerie2017'Lady Mary Fairfax: 1922-2017: Her motto: touch every life with good'
WrittenMacken, Lucy2017'What next for Point Piper Fairwater estate?'
WrittenNesta-Griffiths G1970Point Piper - Past and present
WrittenSimpson Caroline Australian Dictionary of Biography - Fairfax family entries
WrittenSouter G1981Company of Heralds
WrittenWilmot, Ben and Allen, Lisa2018'Sydney's finest home all yours for a lazy $100m'
WrittenWoollahra Municipal Council1991Register of Significant Trees - Significant Trees under Private Ownership - 560 New South Head Road - 'Fairwater'

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: Heritage Office
Database number: 5014213
File number: H99/00531


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