Aberglasslyn | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Aberglasslyn

Item details

Name of item: Aberglasslyn
Other name/s: Aberglasslyn Homestead
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: House
Location: Lat: -32.6867897884 Long: 151.5407443900
Primary address: Aberglasslyn Road, Aberglasslyn, NSW 2320
Parish: Gosforth
County: Northumberland
Local govt. area: Maitland
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Mindaribba
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT3 DP255369
LOT5 DP255369
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Aberglasslyn RoadAberglasslynMaitlandGosforthNorthumberlandPrimary Address
Aberglasslyn LaneAberglasslynMaitlandGosforthNorthumberlandAlternate Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Dr Ken & Mrs Jill DoblerPrivate11 Oct 10

Statement of significance:

It is arguably the finest extant Greek Revival style villa (in the 18th century sense of the word) in Australia. The configuration of its fabric, largely in its c1860 form, is patent physical evidence of the high expectations of colonial settlers of the 1830s and early 1840s and the severity of the economic crash of the 1840s. It is the earliest known surviving example in Australia of a house design generated in part by considerations of an integrated sanitary plumbing system. The building is one of a group of surviving pre-1850 in the vicinity of Maitland. The house and setting is physical evidence of the pattern of land settlement and leasehold farming in the Maitland area. It contains elements of high individual and often unique quality, including a domed stairwell and geometric stair of unique quality and design in Australia. The place is perceived by many knowledgeable people to be one of the major sites of cultural significance in Australia. On a regional basis the building is an historic landmark (monument). It is an exemplary example of the 19th century builder's art embodied in the quality of the stonework, brickwork, timber selection, carpentry and joinery, plasterwork, hardware etc. (Clive Lucas & Partners 1985:32-33).
Date significance updated: 27 Oct 15
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 Verge
Construction years: 1840-1842
Physical description: This is an incomplete two storey early Victorian house overlooking a bend in the Hunter River. It is built of finely worked Ravensfield sandstone with a slate roof. It is a large rectangular house, drawing in plan from the compact form of the late 18th and early 19th century English neo-classical villas, with well proportioned rooms arranged around a central square hall containing a geometric staircase describing a circular wall beneath a hemispherical dome. Because of the disastrous financial depression of the early 1840's the house was not finished to the original plan - planned rear single storey wings containing offices were not built and only part of the interior detailing was completed. In the late 1850s most of the unfinished detailing was made good in a simple manner with mitered, moulded architraves instead of the elaborate aedicular forms of the original work. At this time two storied verandahs of cast iron columns on sandstone plinths were built instead of the single storey colonnade originally planned, for which sandstone columns had been quarried and moulded.

The workmanship of the first build and the materials used - in particular the Ravensfield stone and the cedar - are of the highest quality. The house retains in its wallpapers and paint finished, together with its services (bells, water closet and ballroom) remarkable evidence of both building, the effect of the financial depression and the taste of its builders.

Aberglasslyn is intimately sited close to the Hunter River. It commands extensive pastoral views and is a dramatic European monument set in isolation in an Antipodean landscape.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physical condition is good. Archaeological potential is medium.
Modifications and dates: 1840 - construction commenced
1842 - construction stopped
Refer to Conservation Plan by Clive Lucas & Partners for detailed information
1985 - work undertaken
1992 - work undertaken
Current use: Private residence
Former use: Residence, boarding school

History

Historical notes: On 3rd July 1823 Henry D Owens received a crown grant of 1100 acres in the Parish of Gosford. In 1824 Owen built a cedar and bluegum cottage on the property. In 1828 the estate and uncompleted house nearly 90 feet long was sold to Sir John Jameison. During the next eight years the estate was let to John Dow and during his occupation the name 'Aberglasslyn' appeared. The property is also let to George Fletcher.

In 1835 George Hobler leased Aberglasslyn for a year from Sir John Jameison with an option to purchase. In July 1836 the land was purchased by George Hobler for 5,000 pounds.

The same year the architect Henry Robertson advertised for tenders for building a house on the estate. Construction did not commence until 1840 when Hobler recorded in his diary laying the foundation stone. It appears that during the delay Robertson was replaced as architect by John Verge. So closely does the house resemble Verge's work in its planning and detailing that it is accepted that it is the work of the premier architect, John Verge.

Before Hobler could finish the house, he had fallen prey, as so many of his contemporaries had, to the financial depression of the early 1840s which devastated the colony. Hobler stopped work on the house in 1842, filed his 'Insolvent Schedule' and was declared bankrupt. Hobler had completed the entrance hall, stair hall, drawing room and breakfast room. The rest of the house was left unfinished.

Hobler stayed on until 1845 although the estate was sold in 1843. In 1846 William Nicholson leased the estate and he bought it in 1853. He made the remainder of the house habitable at this time. This work appears to have been completed by 1858 when the house was leased to Walter Hall and his sisters as a boarding school. It continued in the Nicholsan family until 1910, then passed through marriage to the McKeachie family.

In 1966 the McKeachie family sold the house, by then deteriorated, to Mr Jackson a local plumber. In 1977 Jackson subdivided the land into four lots. The house and two of the lots were sold to Mr and Mrs Phillip Jones who undertook urgent and major conservation work.

Since 1983 the property has been under various ownerships. (Lucas 1985)

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Pastoralism-Activities associated with the breeding, raising, processing and distribution of livestock for human use (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
It is arguably the finest extant Greek Revival style villa (in the 18th century sense of the word) in Australia. The configuration of its fabric, largely in its c1860 form is patent physical evidence of the high expectations of colonial settlers of the 1830s and early 1840s and the severity of the economic crash of the 1840s. It is the earliest known surviving example in Australia of a house design generated in part by considerations of an integrated sanitary plumbing system. The building is one of a group of surviving pre-1850 in the vicinity of Maitland. The house and setting is physical evidence of the pattern of land settlement and leasehold farming in the Maitland area. (Clive Lucas & Partners 1985:32)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
It contains elements of high individual and often unique quality, including a domed stairwell and geometric stair of unique quality and design in Australia. It is one of a handful of pre 1850s villas in Australia designed integrally with a terrace wall, designed for a single-storey colonnade and to be planned around a central staircase in the Palladian manner of Taylor and Soane. The surrounding landscape is the setting for a building of great cultural significance. (Clive Lucas & Partners 1985:32-33)
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The place is perceived by many knowledgeable people to be one of the major sites of cultural significance in Australia. On a regional basis the building is an historic landmark (monument). The place has provided and has potential to continue to provide an educational function. (Clive Lucas & Partners 1985:33)
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
It is an exemplary example of the 19th century builder's art embodied in the quality of the stonework, brickwork, timber selection, carpentry and joinery, plasterwork, hardware etc. The construction of the stone geometric staircase is unique in Australia. The design and construction of the surviving section of the sanitary plumbing system is unique in Australia. The building is one of the best examples of the use of Ravensfield stone. The present incomplete state of the building provides a rare opportunity for the study of superior quality 19th century building techniques. (Clive Lucas & Partners 1985:33)
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
It is the earliest known surviving example in Australia of a house design generated in part by considerations of an integrated sanitary plumbing system
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 0019502 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0019504 Sep 81 1344733
Local Environmental Plan  03 Sep 93   
National Trust of Australia register   01 Jan 62   
Register of the National Estate  21 Mar 78   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Management PlanEJE Architecture2000Aberglasslyn House Conservation Plan Review
WrittenM Walker and J Broadbent1984National Trust Classification Card - Aberglasslyn (first listed 1962 amended 1984)
WrittenMorris, Kate2010'Historic home safe, claim developers', in "Mercury News"
WrittenNational Trust of Australia1984Aberglasslyn House Submission to the Heritage Council of NSW in respect of an application pursuant to section 60 of the Heritage Act 1977
WrittenTaylor, Ken1995Aberglasslyn House : heritage landscape and visual catchment conservation study

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

rez rez rez rez rez rez
rez
(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: 5045377
File number: S90/02938 & HC 32082


Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

All information and pictures on this page are the copyright of the Heritage Division or respective copyright owners.