Willandra | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Willandra

Item details

Name of item: Willandra
Other name/s: Ryde House
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Homestead building
Location: Lat: -33.8160306831 Long: 151.1020760020
Primary address: 782 Victoria Road, Ryde, NSW 2112
Parish: Hunters Hill
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Ryde
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP34639
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
782 Victoria RoadRydeRydeHunters HillCumberlandPrimary Address
782 VICTORIA Road (CNR DEVLIN)RydeRydeHunters HillCumberlandAlternate Address
Devlin StreetRydeRydeHunters HillCumberlandAlternate Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
City of RydeLocal Government16 Mar 99

Statement of significance:

Willandra is of cultural heritage significance to the people of New South Wales and Ryde. It has historical significance for its association with the early settlement of the colony of New South Wales and in particular the Ryde area. It is a fine and intact example of a colonial Georgian two storey residence, now rare in the County of Cumberland, if not New South Wales. It has been preserved for future generation as a result of prolonged lobbying by community groups and funding under newly established Federal and State heritage protection legislation.

The area now known as Ryde was the third settlement after Sydney and Parramatta. Willandra is part of a 30 acre grant in the Eastern Farms made to John Small in 1794. It was purchased by James Devlin, stepson to John Small in 1828 and when part of it was subdivided in 1841 as town allotments. It was one of the first two in Kissing Point and formed the core of the emerging Village of Ryde.

It was around this time that James Devlin built a mansion house now known as Willandra, a house which has become a landmark in Ryde and representative of a community’s endeavour to ensure the preservation of Ryde’s history.

Devlin, born a second generation settler, started his working life as a wheelright and through his enterprise became a member of the new gentry. He planted most of his land at Kissing Point as orchard, the district being the primary supplier of fruit and vegetables in Sydney. Devlin was later to become one of the first pastoralists in the Riverina District, was a magistrate at Ryde between 1864 and 1872 and instrumental in the establishment of the Municipality of Ryde in 1871 the first Council to which he was elected as an alderman.

Willandra was later owned by several prominent people of the time including Caroline Manning, wife of the merchant John Edye Manning. The Manning family lived at Willandra from around 1874 to 1896. It is believed that the property gained its name some time after federation in 1900. The name being attributed to the Aboriginal word for ‘rushing water’, there being several creeks on the property.

Willandra was fondly remembered by members of the local community for social occasions held there. In more recent times it became a focal point for community concern when it was threatened with demolition. Both the National Trust of Australia (NSW) and the Ryde District Historical Society lobbied for many years to prevent its demise.

The historic and aesthetic value of Willandra had long been recognised and when a proposal to demolish the building arose in the early 1970s the National trust of Australia (NSW) and the Ryde District Historical Society campaigned to save it. Willandra was purchased by Ryde Municipal Council in 1976 with the assistance of a Federal government grant under the national Estate program. It was one of a group of six properties which were the first in New South Wales to receive Federal funding under the national Estates program arising from the first commonwealth legislation enacted for the purpose of protecting the nation’s heritage. A further grant from the new South Wales State government under its infant heritage legislation contributed to heritage works.

Willandra is a rare and intact example of a Colonial Georgian residence and was one of the last to be built within the County of Cumberland as farming interest began to extend beyond the inner ring of settlement. Willandra has been described as the quintessential Colonial Georgian house (Broadbent, 1997) and architecturally very important, one of the best of colonial Georgian houses remaining in Australia (Lucas, 1977). Lucas states that its architectural value is derived from the quality of original detail which has survived, its architecture being of national significance.

Willandra retains a special association for the Ryde District Historical Society, who have been tenants of the property, along with the Ryde District Art Society, since its opening following the completion of the conservation works in 1980. (Willandra Draft CMP, DPC Heritage May 2007)
Date significance updated: 14 Jan 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.

Description

Designer/Maker: William Weaver (attrib.)(Maguire, 1984, 47)
Builder/Maker: James Devlin
Construction years: 1841-1844
Physical description: Site:
The original curtilage (30acres including Small's three orchards on his farm) of the house has been severely reduced through subdivisions over time and the context has been dramatically altered. The house originally stood in a rural landscape and now is in a suburban setting adjacent to two major roads. The alignments of both Victoria Road, Willandra Street and Church Street have been recently altered to define the land parcel today (Heritage Adviser's report, 3/3/09).

Willandra homestead formed part of an arrangement on the ridge at Ryde. The setting was laid out in accordance with English Arcadian landscape principles. The main section of the homestead building focused directly on Parramatta River with over looking the rural land in between. Ryde Village grew adjacent to Willandra by means of subdivision and land dontations to the church.

The setting has been modified by 20th centry transport infrastructure and design values. Today Willandra is set on a much smaller site at the corner of a busy intersection (Devlin Street and Victoria Road), which has visually cut the connection between Willandra and the buildings that made Ryde Village. Surrounding developments have greatlydecreased the grandeur of Willandra because of their scale and proximity. However, Willandra maintains some of its original notoriety by being quite elevated, exposed to a corner and mainting axial views to Parramatta River.

Garden:
There are a number of large shrubs and trees in the south-east corner. The old hoop pine (Araucaria cunninghamii) now just outside the current boundary adjacent, is in a very poor condition. It is believed that this may be the same tree seen in a c.1863 photograph and is at least the tree known to have been a mature tree in 1935 (DPC Heritage, 2007, 3.14).

The garden is now much reduced on the original and chiefly consists of a driveway from the south-east across the front of the house past a stone retaining wall and steps (original, with wide steps running parallel to the house's southern (main) verandah), areas of lawn and some fringing tree plantings framing views, being Chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia) and Norfolk Island hibiscus/white oak/ cow itch tree (Lagunaria patersonae) to the south-east, a large Moreton Bay fig (Ficus macrophylla) to the south-west.

A Port Jackson fig (F.rubiginosa) is on the western boundary fence (Ryde City Council, 2012).

Little of the Lucas Fisher-designed garden remains, despite that the plan (1978) was never fully undertaken in the 1980s. The lemon trees on the level below the garden stairs have died as well as the existing silky oak (Grevillea robusta). The box hedge (Buxus sp.) around the edge of the front verandah has been removed due to water damage to the structure but Kaffir lilies (Clivea miniata) have now been planted (as intended) in its place. The Port Jackson fig (Ficus rubiginosa) on the east side of the verandah remains and a sweet box (Murraya paniculata) hedge has been planted against the picket fence along the eastern boundary (this was intended to be Cape plumbago (P.capensis). The rear garden has two plaques, one a commemoration of the 1988 bicentennary and the other in honour of Bill Stacey, the first president of the Ryde District HIstorical Society which has been placed at the foot of a young gum tree. The Lucas Fisher landscape concept specified this tree to be a peppercorn (Schinus molle var.areira) tree. Another peppercorn tree is nearby to the east. (DPC Heritage, 2007, 3.14).

To the house's west is mainly a connecting access drive which curves back to Victoria Road at the north-west, to a back set of entry/exit gates. A paling fence faces Victoria Road. Picket fences flank the front gates to Willandra Street. Two sets of gates face both Willandra Street and Victoria Road. The rear of the house (north) facing Victoria Road has grassed area between the two house wings, and perimeter shrub plantings (recent, in 2009) comprising white Cape plumbago (P.auriculata), apple blossom (Abelia grandiflora) and Chinese lantern (Abutilon x hybridum cv.s).

Compacted gravel/granite comprises the driveway and pedestrian path which flanks the house's eastern side, parallel to Willandra Street (Stuart Read, site visit, 19/3/09).

House:
Willandra is a colonial Georgian Revival style house, two storied, hipped roof, deep eaved, five bayed, with shuttered French doors below and 12 light double sash windows above, decorative fanlight over the front door and encircled by single storeyed, stone paved, stone columned verandahs. Exterior walls are rendered sandstock brickwork. Ceilings are generally plastered with decorative cornices. Floors are a mixture of blackbutt, kauri pine/oregon and snadstone flagging. Timber doors and windows in Australian cedar (Tropman and Tropman, 1997).

Sandstock brick building.

The kitchen retains it s original wood-fuelled stove. Wood panelling closes off the dairy room from the kitchen (Cashman, 1982, 39).
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physical Condition is good.
There are a number of large shrubs and trees in the south-east corner. The old hoop pine (Araucaria cunninghamii) now just outside the current boundary adjacent, is in a very poor condition. It is believed that this may be the same tree seen in a c.1863 photograph and is at least the tree known to have been a mature tree in 1935 (DPC Heritage, 2007, 3.14).

A full archaeological study of the site has not been undertaken. Although an archaeologist inspected the site in 8/1999 in relation to proposed excavation for drainage works, he did not report any potential archaeological deposits in the subject area.

Documentary evidence would suggest that there is archaeological potential in relation to outbuildings. Oral evidence suggests that there may be a well or cistern on the north-west side of the house but, as with the outbuildings on this side, evidence of it may have been destroyed or covered over during road widening. Similarly documentary evidence suggests that there was potential of archaeological evidence to the east of the house in the location of the former stables, stores and workshops associated with Willandra. That area was disturbed by recent road works in Church/Devlin Street. Assessment was undertaken by the RTA and the finding of archaeological deposits have not been reported, if they were ever found.

The area around the rear of the house has been disturbed due to the building of additions associated with the service station, including a WC in the approximate location of the courtyard. These have since been removed which would have caused further disturbance.

An assessment of the archaeological potential of the site would assist with identifying whether disturbance of subsurface material is likely in relation to excavations for services etc (DPC Heritage, 2007, 5.29).

1/2015: Generally in good condition, well maintained. Some fabric has deteriorated and is in need of repair. Most of the deteriorating fabric is associated with reconstruction works done in 1979-80. As well, internal wall and ceiling surfaces need repainting and some internal timber joinery requires refurbishing (TKD Architects, 2014, 2).
Date condition updated:08 Jan 15
Modifications and dates: 1841 estate subdivision (of Devlin's c.24 acres)
1841-5 construction of Ryde House (now Willandra)

1921 and 1925 subdivisions

1932 Small had installed a petrol bowser for his personal use at the house.
1935 Devlin Street was extended southward to join Church Street and Ryde Bridge. The new line of road followed the alignment of the lane or yard of the Small's farm buildings.
Small leased the property to Mr Tharratt, who built a garage and motor trimming shop across the Victoria Road facade of the house.
A top floor verandah was superimposed on the original awning verandah between the rear two annexes, and four rounded brick arches supporting bearer joists, for the ground floor verandah, and four similar arches above to support the upper roof. A truck backed into one of the brick arch supports and rendered the arches unsafe. This hastened the restoration of the original concept of teh awning verandah (between 1975-80)(Cashman, 1982, 40).

1950s Victoria Road widened which may have affected some garden plantings at Willandra.
1952 house and land bought by Shell Australia and converted the garage on site to a service station, which operated until 1970. This used the single storey annexes at the rear of the house (only). A false brick wall was built at the northern end and the north-eastern wall was filled with plate glass, This false wall was removed (1975-80) (Cashman, 1982, 40).

1970 Hooper closed the service station and opened a second hand car yard, renting out the rest of the house to a succession of tenants.

1974 the house was bought by Ryde Council and progressively restored - work was completed in 1980.
1974: essential repairs and maintenance to protect from vandals and weather. Elementary maintenance had been neglected, although tennants occupied part of the main house while work was waiting to begin. A taxi radio station mast had been installed in the roof gulley, and water came through and caused extensive damage to ceilings. The top windows had deteriorated badly as the upstairs shutters had been removed by a previous owner and rain from the south and north east has caused rot in the broad cedar sills and architraves. There were very few roof slates missing or misplaced, but there was some damage to celings under the openings. It did not take long to seal the roof, but the guttering, although not old, was mutilated, cheifly because of poor installation. This had to be replaced and fixed to barge boards.

One of the hardest jobs was to ensure that downpipes, when replaced, did not carry water under the house. This had happened over a period of years and there was rising damp to head height on inside walls. Another big job was to suspend the inside walls and damp-proof-course them. This was so well done that only three millemetres in height was lost. A Canadian-type drain was run under the floor to carry away any water.

1975-80: restoration:
Where the floors suffered from rot, the bearers from larger rooms were cut down to size for smaller rooms: floor boards could be used in the same way and this ensured minimal replacement timber.

Boards were not sawn to identical thickness in the 1840s and they were notched on the underside over the joists. Sanding smoothed over what little uneveness there was and some boards were replaced where rot was extensive. The downstairs floors were of blackbutt- still preserved in the main - and the upstairs florrs of North American Pine.
Restoration of top floor windows and surrounds was in cedar, but little lighter in shade than the original. Windows, architraves and sills were removed where necessary to make inlays and mullions as exact replicas of the originals.
The wallpaper was not original and was not worth preserving so the walls were stripped and surfaces made good before painting. Ceilings are painted and lath but were a ceiling was too far gone to be easily repaired, sheets of plaster or gyprock were put below it. The better rooms have heavy cornices while the lesser ones are squared at the wall ceiling junction. The better rooms have marble chimney pieces and the lesser ones Marulan sandstone. The top north-eastern bedroom has the chimney piece pilasters grained to resembel wood , while the mantelpiece is painted black. The grate in this room is elaborate iron. This and all the chimney pieces were stolen, together with the cedar doors, but they were recovered, thanks to the slertness of a neighbour.

In stripping the hall walls, a stencilled frieze was uncovered. From a section of this, another stencil was cut and the design has been replainted around the back section of the hall and half way up the sairway. The front door is semi-elliptical in shape with a blunt triangles of glass within its cedar mullions. There is a frieze along either side of the hall wall.
The ceiling in this part of the hall is clearly the original plaster and lath, restored on its original laths. Just inside the main door- prehaps for inwelcomed guests- there is a trap door which originally had a handhole and ring-pull of brass. The wood of the lid is cedar but the rest of the floor is, ofcourse blackbutt.

Designed as a perfectly symmetrical house, the restoration has bought it back to it;s orignal concept except that there is no chimney through the roof on the old ballroom. The shutters of the ballroom and kitchen open onto a courtyard reached from the main back door. These shutters are not cedar as the original shutters disintergrated years ago and were replaced with lesser wood, which has also disintegrated and been restored with pine.

The entire exterior, except for the sandstock brick filling in the ballroom and kitchen exterior walls, has been painted in deep terracotta. Although this colour seems to have been the predominating clour found by the restorers, it was a shock to those who had never known WIllandra as other than a cream colour.

Landscaping was made possible through the efforts of the Ryde Rotary Club. A large thick concrete tarmac had to be listed out before replanting began. Ivy and plumbago wer set along the fence and near the verandah, and lawn was laid. Two peppercorn trees are now growing well. An oleander at the rear and three yuccas near the gate add the old-time touch (Cashman, 1982).
1983 subdivided and the house used as rental apartments.

1990 RTA environmental impact statement for a road underpass to carry Devlin Street under Victoria Road, adjacent to Willandra. Demolition of some 16 houses and buildings, including one heritage item (Borambil), relocation of another (Westward Cottage) and major earthworks. Devlin Street has moved slightly westward of its 1935 alignment and away from Willandra House. Much of the surviving Ryde village context in the south-western part of Devlin's 1841 subdivision has been destroyed. There is now a permanent and obvious spatial separation of the house from the proposed historical precinct that covers the remnants of the old village (Tropman & Tropman, 1997, 50).

1996-8 Works associated with the Devlin Street Victoria Road underpass were undertaken
1999: bitumen driveway replaced: new drainage and ground works to the site surrounding the house comprising compacted granite/gravel driveway and pedestrian path to east.
Current use: community uses
Former use: farm residence, service station (site)

History

Historical notes: The Ryde area was highly suitable for farming and orchards, and early grants to marines were given to encourage agriculture. In 1792 land in the area was granted to 8 marines; two were in the modern area of Ryde. Isaac Archer and John Colethread each received 80 acres of land on the site of the present Ryde-Parramatta Golf Links, now in West Ryde. Later in 1792, in the Eastern Farms area, 12 grants, most about 30 acres, were made to convicts. Much later these were bought by John Macarthur, Gregory Blaxland and the Reverend Samuel Marsden. The district remained an important orcharding area throughout the 19th century.

The grants in the Ryde area were originally called Eastern Farms, later Kissing Point, because of a rock shelf in the Parramatta River bed. At low tide the keels of boats graxed the rock shelf, which in nautical terms is called 'kissing'. The whole settlement became known as Kissing Point - right up the hill and over the area where Devlin was to built Ryde House (later Willandra)(Cashman, 1982, 36).

The land on which the house was built was part of John Small's original 1794 grant and was acquired (Cashman, (1982) says 'inherited') by James Devlin in 1828. Devlin was born in NSW in 1808, the son of Irish exile Arthur Devlin. Arthur had survived the Great Rebellion of 1798 in Ireland, and the Robert Emmet revolt of 1803. A great number of his comrades of 1798 were shipped to New South Wales as convicts, but Arthur managed to bargain for his terms of surrender and came to Sydney as an exile, and not as a convict, with a few of his relatives. Soon after arrival (1831) Arthur married colonial-born Priscilla Squire (Cashman, 1982 36). She was the daughter of James Squire, patriarch of Kissing Point, land owner, brewer and man of business (Cashman, 1982, 36).

Priscilla died after the birth of their first son, James. Arthur Devlin's second wife was Suzannah Hughes, granddaughter of John Small.

Not long after Arthur Devlin died, his mother re-married, this time to Thomas, son of a first Fleeter, John Small. Thomas and Priscilla became the owners of a 30 acre (12 hectare) grant to John Small. And James Devlin was to become heir to some of James Squire's considerable fortune, when Squire died in James's 14th year. When James reached maturity he in turn was granted the land by succession.

Already in 1837, James had joined the land rush, and he must have felt confident in the early 1840s when he began to build. In the 1850s the previous decade's optimism was replaced with one of the worst depressions to befall New South Wales. It perhaps indicates Devlin's financial position that he could conceive such a grand building plan when conditions seemed so inopportune. In any case he mortgaged the property almost immediately it was completed. But unlike many others, he was able to survive the bad times and retain his property. At that time few buildings were nearby. St. Anne's church was then a small, insignificant building, doing duty as church and school until 1838. In that year a school was built down the road, opposite the police station. The rector of St.Anne's was the Rev. G.E.W.Turner, recently arrived with his wife from the Isle of Wight. Mrs Turned fancied there was a resemblance in the area to her old homeland, and the expatriates began using the name 'Ryde', although it was variously called Hunters Hill, Kissing Point and Field of Mars. Devlin called his new house 'Ryde House' and in 1841 the Post Office was named Ryde (Cashman, 1982, 36).

Devlin was originally a wheelwright. Later he became pound-keeper and postmaster (Government contractor for the district, until 1839 (Cashman, 1982, 34)) of Kissing Point before becoming a successful developer and contractor (Blaxell, 2004, 165).

At the time Ryde House was built, Governor Sir George Gipps was controlling NSW and there was growing resistance to the inflow of convicts into New South Wales. Devlin chose the Georgian style of architecture, even though Queen Victoria had been reigning since 1837 (Cashman, 1982, 34).

About 1840 the name 'Ryde' began to be used in the locality. The 1841 subdivision is the earliest documented use of this name. Martin has shown that the names Ryde and Turner Street were both used by James Devlin in his subdivision to honour the new Anglican Minister, Rev.George Turner, whose wife was a native of the English Ryde. Devlin and his neighbour, James Shepherd, had some 40 lots surveyed in a subdivision they named the Village of Ryde, with Devlin's 'East Ryde' facing St.Anne's Church and Shepherd's 'West Ryde' facing the road to Parramatta.

Devlin's new Ryde House crowned the ridge between the two precincts. Wilson interprets this name change as indicating a desire by 2nd and 3rd generation Devlins, Shepherds, Farnells and others to distance themselves from convict origins. The new name Ryde emanated from Ryde House, which could be seen from the Parramatta River and main roads and partly obscured the church, reinforcing the social control of the new local gentry (Tropman & Tropman, 1997, 43).

Devlin began building Willandra in 1841 on the old Small's farm and occupied his new house in 1845. Devlin was declared bankrupt in 1844 but was released from insolvency in 1845. In 1852 he purchased 8 acres from the estate of Mrs Blanch, to the south of Small's (ie: Devlin's) farm. The family lived there until 1874.

Architect and engineer William Weaver lived and worked in NSW from 1851 to 1864. He was Colonial Architect from 1855-56. He set up in private practice in 1856, at the age of 28, in Pitt Street, Sydney. Weaver, his wife and first son, William Broughton Weaver, lived at Ryde during 1856-58 and since an 1860 advertisement mentioned that he 'erected many villas on the Parramatta River' he must have been involved in designing, consulting and surveying there. Willandra at Ryde is similar to some of Weaver's residences and the Devlin family who owned it were closely invoved with St. Anne's Church (Maguire, 1984, 46-47).

Devlin acquired property in the Riverina district (Blaxell, 2004, 165) becoming one of the first pastoralists in that region. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Municipality of Ryde in 1871 to which he was elected an alderman (TKD Architects, 2014, 2). It is he whom Devlin's Creek and Devlin Street are named after (Pollen, 1996). Devlin was a magistrate at Ryde from 1864 to 1872. When he sold Ryde house in 1874 (1875, sold to Jane Darvall, widow of Major Darvall of nearby Ryedale, say Ryde City Council, 2016), the family moved to one of his properties near Wagga Wagga.

In 1874 Devlin released a second subdivision of land on the north-west of Small's (i.e: Devlin's) farm, selling the southern portion sold to Jane Darvall. James Devlin died in 1875.

Jane Darvall sold Ryde House in 1878 to merchant John Edye Manning (mainly known for his ownership of Parramatta River Ferries). John's wife Caroline and family lived here from around 1874 to 1896.
RCC add that by 1879 it had passed to William Henry Suttor (Jr.) and Benjamin Buchanan in trust for Caroline Elizabeth Mary Manning (nee Suttor) through the will of her late father, William Henry Suttor (Sr.) and the name of the house changed from Mansion House to Willandra, reflecting a squatting run held by the family in the Riverina (RCC, 2016).

The Mannings changed its name to Willandra House. It is unknown when that name change occurred. This may have been some time after Australia's Federation in 1900. The name is attributed to the Aboriginal word for 'rushing water', there being several creeks on the property. Willandra was fondly remembered by members of the local community for social occasions held there (TKD Architects, 2014, 2). The earliest recorded use of the name 'Willandra' in the Sands Directory was in 1911, when John T.Craig rented the house from the Manning trustees (Tropman & Tropman, 1997, 43). Cashman (1982, 36) records the name change as occurring in the early to mid-1890s, when the house was owned by the Suttor Brothers, on behalf of their sister, Mrs J.E.Manning.

The property was subdivided in 1893 and the house used as rental apartments.

Miss Ellen Blundell Pye rented Willandra from 1894 to 1899 and operated the Rydalmount Boarding and Day School for Girls. Other tenants followed (RCC, 2016).

The estate subdivisions in 1921 and 1925 used the name 'Willandra Estate' and it is perhaps this usage that gave the name popular currency in the locality, especially with the naming of Willandra Street in 1925 (Tropman & Tropman, 1997, 43).

The property was subdivided in 1926 and the house passed to descendents of the Small family in 1932 (RCC, 2016).

In 1935 the Ryde Bridge opened for road traffic joining the bottom of Church Street with Uhr's Point in Concord. As part of associated road works, Devlin Street was extended southward to join Church Street. The new line of road followed the alignment of the lane or yard of the Small's farm buildings. Earlier in 1932, new owner Roland Small had installed a petrol bowser for his personal use at the house. Small travelled to St.Leonards and back each day for work, and presumably petrol was difficult to obtain en route. The location of the bowser at the junction of these two important roads seems to have attracted car users, and when Small decided to move he leased the property to Mr Tharratt, who built a garage and motor trimming shop across the Victoria Road facade of the house.

In the 1950s Victoria Road was widened, resulting in a loss of a belt of trees associated with neighbouring 'Borambil' and may have also affected some garden plantings at Willandra.

In 1952 the house and land were bought by Shell Australia who converted the garage on site to a service station. This operated until 1970 when the property was bought by Mr Hooper, who closed the service station and opened a second hand car yard The rest of the house was rented for residential use with a succession of tenants (Tropman & Tropman, 1997, 49). Willandra was never without occupants until restoration, but during its 140 years as a freehold property, it suffered at the hands of various owners, and, in its later stages, from neglect and the ravages of the weather (Cashman, 1982, 37).

In 1973 the house came under threat (of demolition for its materials, which were to be bought and re-erected in the Paterson Valley. Approaches were made by the Ryde & District Historical Society to Ryde City Council and the State Government and other interested bodies. (Cashman, 1982, 34, 37). Agitation by concerned organisations, especially the Ryde District Historical Society, secured a Federal Government grant of $100,000 in 1973/4; $48,000 in 1979) in 1979. This enabled Ryde Council to purchase the property in that year. (RCC, 2016 date the acquisition to 1976).

The Federal funding was a grant under the National Estate program arising from the first Commonwealth legislation enacted to protect Australia's heritage. It was one of a group of six properties which were the first in New South Wales to receive such Federal funding (TKD Architects, 2014, 2).

Willandra's Restoration (1979-80):
Tom Uren, Federal Minister for Regional and Urban Development, did much to make this grant available. The NSW Government insisted on the funds being filtered through the State Department of Planning and Environment. This had some advantages, particularly with legal and procedural advice (Cashman, 1982, 37). The funds were finally passed to Ryde Council for 'purchase and restoration'. The terms were that the restoration was to be overseen by representatives of Ryde Council, the National Trust of Australia (NSW) and Ryde Historical Society. There was protracted negotiation with the owner over price and an offer was made, roughly half way between the Valuer-General's estimate and that of a private valuer. It was finally bought by Ryde Council for $85,600. There was very little money left for restoration and that was spent mainly on essential repairs and maintenance to protect it from the weather and vandals. Ryde Council made a further $45,000 available and later the then Minister for Planning and Environment, Mr Landa, made a $48,000 subsidy contingent (under its infact heritage legislation, the NSW Heritage Act 1977)(TKD Architects, 2014, 2) on a dollar-for-dollar contribution by Ryde Council (ibid, 37).

On 5 January 1979 an interim heritage order was placed over the property. And on 14 December 1979 a permanent conservation order was gazetted (Heritage Branch file, folio 243).

The architect for the restoration was (heritage architect) Mr Clive Lucas and the builder was Gledhill Constructions. Extensive conservation works were undertaken under Lucas' direction in 1979-80 (TKD Architects, 2014, 1). By this stage Willandra had degenerated badly. Elementary maintenance had been neglected, although tenants occupied some of the main house while work was waiting to begin. A taxi radio station mast had been installed in the roof gulley and predictably, water came through causing extensive damage to ceilings. The top windows had deteriorated badly as upstairs shutters had been removed by a previous owner and rain from the south and north east had caused rot in the broad cedar sills and architraves. There were very few roof slates missing or misplaced, but there was some damage to ceilings under the openeings. The roof was sealed, but the guttering, although not old, was mutilated chiefly due to poor installation. This had to be replaced and fixed to the barge boards.

One of the hardest jobs was ensuring the downpipes, when replaced, did not carry water under the house, which had happened over a period of years causing rising damp to head height on inside walls. This was so well done that only three millimetres in height was lots. A Canadian-type drain was run under the floor to carry away water. Where floors were rotted, bearers from larger rooms were cut down to size for smaller rooms: floor boards could be used in the same way and this ensured minimal replacement timber. Boards were not sawn to identical thickness in the 1840s and they were notched on the underside of the joinsts. Sanding smoothed over what little unevenness there was and some boards were replaced where rot was extensive. The downstairs floors are blackbutt - still preserved in the main - and upstairs floors of American pine.

Top floor windows and surrounds were restored in cedar, but a little lighter in shade than originals. Windows, architraves and sills were removed where necessary to make inlays an dmullions as exact replicas of originals. The wallpaper was not original and not worth preserving so the walls were stripped and made good before being painted. Ceilings are plaster and lath but where they were too far gone to be easily repaired, sheets of plaster or gyprock were put below it. The better rooms have heavy cornices while lesser ones are squared at the wall ceiling junction. The better rooms have marble chimney pieces and lesser ones Marulan sandstone. The top north-eastern bedroom has its chimney piece pilasters grained to resemble wood, while its mantle piece is painted black. The grate in this room is elaborate iron. This and all the chimney pieces were stolen, together with the cedar doors, but these were recovered thanks to an alert neighbour. In stripping the hall walls, a stencilled frieze was uncovered. From a section of this another stencil was cut and the design has been repainted around th eback section of the hall and half way up the stairway. The front door is semi-elliptical in shape with blunt triangles of glass within cedar mullions. There is a frieze along either side of the hall wall. The ceiling in this part of the hall is clearly the original plaster and lath, restored on its (Cashman, 1982, 37-8).

Further Government grants allowed restoration to be undertaken (supervised by Clive Lucas & Partners) which was completed in 1980. Part of the works was to construct a landscape on the small parcel of land suggesting some elements of Victorian landscapes. Key elements in the hard works were the fences and gravel pathways and driveways. A 2m high timber paling fence with curved tops was erected along Victoria Road and partly around Willandra Street to suggest that this is the rear of the house. Small sections of a low painted picket fence with a scalloped profile between posts and incorporating gates were also included. There is a pair of gates addressing Willandra Street (to the east) and a set addressing Victoria Road (to the north) to suggest entrance driveways. The gravel pathways are defined by brick curb and gutters (Heritage Adviser's report, 3/3/09).

Designed as a perfectly symmetrical house, the restoration has bought it back to it;s orignal concept except that there is no chimney through the roof on the old ballroom. The shutters of the ballroom and kitchen open onto a courtyard reached from the main back door. These shutters are not cedar as the original shutters disintergrated years ago and were replaced with lesser wood, which has also disintegrated and been restored with pine.

The entire exterior, except for the sandstock brick filling in the ballroom and kitchen exterior walls, has been painted in deep terracotta. Although this colour seems to have been the predominating clour found by the restorers, it was a shock to those who had never known WIllandra as other than a cream colour.

Landscaping was made possible through the efforts of the Ryde Rotary Club. A large thick concrete tarmac had to be listed out before replanting began. Ivy and plumbago wer set along the fence and near the verandah, and lawn was laid. Two peppercorn trees are now growing well. An oleander at the rear and three yuccas near the gate add the old-time touch (Cashman, 1982).

Willandra was then reoccupied, with the Ryde District Historical Society and the City of Ryde Art Society as joint tenants. (Blaxell, 2004, 165-6) for use as a local museum, art gallery and classes (Heritage Branch file), folio 243). Willandra is open to the public at weekends (Cashman, 1982). Clive Lucas & Partners won a merit award from the NSW Chapter of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects for their work on Willandra (Historic Australia, January-February 1982, 10).

In 1990 the Roads & Traffic Authority (RTA) prepared an environmental impact statement for a road underpass to carry Devlin Street under Victoria Road, adjacent to Willandra. The demolition of some 16 houses and buildings, including one heritage item (Borambil) and relocation of another (Westward Cottage) and major earthworks had several effects. Devlin Street has moved slightly westward of its 1935 alignment and away from Willandra. Much of the surviving Ryde village context in the south-western part of Devlin's 1841 subdivision has been destroyed. There is now a permanent and obvious spatial separation of the house from the proposed historical precinct that covers the remnants of the old village.

In the 1880s new transport routes separated the manor from the common. In the 1990s this has been repeated with the mansion now separated from its village. The southern vistas are now the principal contextual link remaining between the present Willandra and the mid-19th century Ryde House (Tropman & Tropman, 1997, 50).

Works associated with the Devlin Street Victoria Road underpass were undertaken from 1996-8.

Willandra was transferred to the State Heritage Register on 2 April 1999.

Willandra retains a special association with the Ryde District Historical Society, who have been tenants of the property, along with the Ryde District Act Society, since its (re-)opening following completion of conservation works in 1980 (DPC Heritage, 2007).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Clearing land for farming-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Orcharding-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Ancillary structures - wells, cisterns-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements Service Stations-
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 farming 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. Gentlemens Mansions-
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 Naming places (toponymy)-
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 Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Resuming private lands for public purposes-
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 Granting Crown lands for private farming-
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 towns in response to topography-
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-
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. Building in response to natural landscape features.-
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 - colonial homestead-
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 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. Interior design styles and periods - Colonial-
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 on the urban fringe-
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. 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 a rural homestead-
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 Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Visiting heritage places-
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 Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Developing clubs for social improvement-
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 museum-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Joining together to study and appreciate local history-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with William Weaver, Colonial Architect 1855-6, architect-engineer-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with James Devlin, settler-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Willanda is historically significance for its central role in the attempt to establish a gentry hegemony in the locality during the 1840s following the end of convictism in NSW, for its associations with attempts to transplantthe customas of the English manor to the colony, for its role in the creation of the Village of Ryde, for reinforcing the locality name of Ryde, for its longassociations with persons such as James Devlin and John Edye Manning and for its identification as an element of the nation's architectural heritage in the 1970s. (Tropman and Tropman 1997)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Willandra is aesthetically significant as a historic landmark, located in a visually dominant position on the ridge at Ryde, with commanding views of the Parramatta River. The building is a fine and locally rare example of a colonial Regency style manor with quality detailing. With its elevated, corner siting and former gandeur, Willandra has strong viual appeal. The stong, symmetrical form is a reminder of the intended stability and control intended by the Ryde gentry over the rural workers. (Tropman and Tropman, 1997)
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Willandra is identified as an important item and resided in by community groups. Willsnadra is held in high esteem by the Ryde Historical Society who are based in the building. It is valued by the Ryde Arts Society for providing a suitable atmospeher for holding art classes and displaying art works. The building is also viewed by members of the community for its unique role in the development of Ryde, for its aesthetic character and its commanding, identifiable setting. (Tropman and Tropman 1997)
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Willandra has technical/research significance because it is an intact form which represents the past manor tradition through its form, siting and relationship to Parramatta River and the Ryde township. The construction/design of the building has arare elements such as sandstone columns which were turned in one piece on a lathe and a geometric stair case (north coast cedar used in the house). (Tropman and Tropman , 1997)
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.

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 0002602 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0002614 Dec 79 1786349
Regional Environmental Plan  05 Jun 90   
Local Environmental PlanLEP 105 17 Jan 03   
National Trust of Australia register Willandra10813   
Register of the National Estate 292821 Mar 78   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Historic Australia1982 Gavin Cashman  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenBlaxell, Gregory2004The River - Sydney Cove to Parramatta
WrittenBroadbent, James1997The Australian Colonial House
WrittenCashman, Gavin1982Willandra (article)
WrittenCouncil of the City of Ryde2016Ryde Heritage Walking Trail View detail
WrittenDPC Heritage (Kim Ketelby)2007Willandra: Conservation Managerment Plan (draft)
WrittenHistoric Australia1982Willandra Restoration Award
WrittenMaguire, Roslyn1984'Introducing Mr. William Weaver, architect and engineer'
WrittenPollen, F. (ed.) & Healy, G.1996Ryde (entry) in The Book of Sydney Suburbs
WrittenTropman and Tropman Architects1997Heritage Condition Assessment

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

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(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5045158
File number: EF14/5265; S90/6185; HC 32077


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