Rathven | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Rathven

Item details

Name of item: Rathven
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Villa
Location: Lat: -33.9107733430 Long: 151.2470782270
Primary address: 43 St Marks Road, Randwick, NSW 2031
Parish: Alexandria
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Randwick
Local Aboriginal Land Council: La Perouse
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP623700
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
43 St Marks RoadRandwickRandwickAlexandriaCumberlandPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
 Private25 Mar 99

Statement of significance:

Rathven constructed circa 1887 is a large two-storey house of high Victorian domestic architecture. It is associated with George Raffan who was a prominent Sydney businessman and grazier. He pioneered the cement industry and is associated with Portland Cement. The house and its features are unique in the Randwick area. (Heritage Branch files)
Date significance updated: 08 Sep 11
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: George Raffan
Builder/Maker: George Raffan
Construction years: 1887-1887
Physical description: Rathven is a large two-storey house of high Victorian domestic architecture. The roof has an unusual mansard and dormer design with a central tower, which is not part of the perimeter walls, with surrounding 'widow's walk'. In elevation the house is assymetrical with a rounded projecting bay on the southern end.

Rathven's interior details includes cornices, ornate ceilings and fine joinery remaining intact and in good condition.

It is set on a 2117 square metre site with with landscaped grounds in-ground swimming pool, spa, tennis court, lawn area, mature trees and shrubs. The house has six bedrooms, six bathrooms, double garage, formal living, dining rooms,reception and study. (Heritage Branch files) (Chancellor, SMH, 26-27/2/11).
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physical condition is good.
Date condition updated:22 Sep 11
Modifications and dates: 1980s - conservation and restoration

1980s sold in derelict condition. A double garage was built, later a swimming pool, spa and tennis court.

2007 Install door to double garage built in late 1980s to provide pedestrian access.
Current use: Private Residence
Former use: Private Residence, boarding house for school

History

Historical notes: Randwick history:
pre-1780s - local Aboriginal people in the area used the site for fishing and cultural activities - rock engravings, grinding grooves and middens remain in evidence.
1789 - Governor Philip referred to 'a long bay', which became known as Long Bay.
Aboriginal people are believed to have inhabited the Sydney region for at least 20,000 years (Turbet, 2001). The population of Aboriginal people between Palm Beach and Botany Bay in 1788 has been estimated to have been 1500. Those living south of Port Jackson to Botany Bay were the Cadigal people who spoke Dharug (Randwick Library webpage, 2003), while the local clan name of Maroubra people was "Muru-ora-dial" (City of Sydney webpage, 2003). By the mid nineteenth century the traditional owners of this land had typically either moved inland in search of food and shelter, or had died as the result of European disease or confrontation with British colonisers (Randwick Library webpage, 2003).

Colonial History:
One of the earliest land grants in this area was made in 1824 to Captain Francis Marsh, who received 12 acres bounded by the present Botany & High Streets, Alison & Belmore Roads. In 1839 William Newcombe acquired the land north-west of the present town hall in Avoca Street.

Randwick takes its name from the town of Randwick, Gloucestershire, England. The name was suggested by Simeon Pearce (1821-86) and his brother James. Simeon was born in the English Randwick and the brothers were responsible for the early development of both Randwick and its neighbour, Coogee. Simeon had come to the colony in 1841as a 21 year old surveyor. He built his Blenheim House on the 4 acres he bought from Marsh, and called his property "Randwick". The brothers bought and sold land profitably in the area and elsewhere. Simeon campaigned for construction of a road from the city to Coogee (achieved in 1853) and promoted the incorporation of the suburb. Pearce sought construction of a church modelled on the church of St. John in his birthplace. In 1857 the first St Jude's stood on the site of the present post office, at the corner of the present Alison Road and Avoca Street (Pollen, 1988, 217-8).

Randwick was...slow to progress. The village was isolated from Sydney by swamps and sandhills, and although a horse-bus was operated by a man named Grice from the late 1850s, the journey was more a test of nerves than a pleasure jaunt. Wind blew sand over the track, and the bus sometimes became bogged, so that passengers had to get out and push it free. From its early days Randwick had a divided society. The wealthy lived elegantly in large houses built when Pearce promoted Randwick and Coogee as a fashionable area. But the market gardens, orchards and piggeries that continued alongside the large estates were the lot of the working class. Even on the later estates that became racing empires, many jockeys and stablehands lived in huts or even under canvas. An even poorer group were the immigrants who existed on the periphery of Randwick in a place called Irishtown, in the area now known as The Spot, around the junction of St.Paul's Street and Perouse Road. Here families lived in makeshift houses, taking on the most menial tasks in their struggle to survive.

In 1858 when the NSW Government passed the Municipalities Act, enabling formation of municipal districts empowered to collect rates and borrow money to improve their suburb, Randwick was the first suburb to apply for the status of a municipality. It was approved in Februrary 1859, and its first Council was elected in March 1859.

Randwick had been the venue for sporting events, as well as duels and illegal sports, from the early days in the colony's history. Its first racecourse, the Sandy Racecourse or Old Sand Track, had been a hazardous track over hills and gullies since 1860. When a move was made in 1863 by John Tait, to establish Randwick Racecourse, Simeon Pearce was furious, expecially when he heard that Tait also intended to move into Byron Lodge. Tait's venture prospered, however and he became the first person in Australia to organise racing as a commercial sport. The racecourse made a big difference to the progress of Randwick. The horse-bus gave way to trams that linked the suburb to Sydney and civilisation. Randwick soon became a prosperous and lively place, and it still retains a busy residential, professional and commercial life.

Today, some of the houses have been replaced by home units. Many European migrants have made their homes in the area, along with students and workers at the nearby University of NSW and the Prince of Wales Hospital. (ibid, 218-9).


Rathven:
Rathven was constructed circa 1887 by George Raffan as a residence on land that extended to the bottom of Glebe Gully, with its gardens featuring Norfolk Island pines (Araucaria heterophylla), huge bamboos (probably Bambusa balcooa) and two Port Jackson fig trees (Ficus rubiginosa).

George Raffan was a prominent Sydney businessman and grazier. He was a northern Scot, born in the county of Banffshire and arrived in New South Wales in 1874. After his arrival he had a shop on Bridge Street, Sydney near the Tank Stream. He commenced business as a building contractor, and within five years became one of the leading contractors of Sydney. He pioneered the cement industry and became a pastoralist, owning Lue and Cooyal stations at Mudgee. He died suddenly in Sydney in 1915.

The following information is from the Sands Directory:
1888 - G Raffan - Builder
1889-1912 - same entry as above
1913 - G Raffan J.P - Contactor
1915 - Gordon Dixon
1918 - Gordon Dixon
1921 - J.N. Silk
1925 - Abraham M Loewenthal

After its 1927 sale by Dr Abraham M.Loewenthal, Rathven operated as a boarding school for Sydney Grammar School until 1976. During this period a large two-storey classroom wing was added and the billiard room demolished. The school vacated the property in 1977/78 and was sold to a developer in 1979.

In January 1979 community respresentations were received from the Randwick and Districts Historical Society, Randwick Residents Action Group and the Randwick Glebe Gully Preservation Group concerned that Rathven was to be demolished as part of a proposed development of the Glebe Gully.

An Interim Heritage Order placed over the property on 4 May 1979. A Permanent Conservation Order under the NSW Heritage Act was placed on the property in 23 October 1981 by then Minister for Planning, Paul Landa, after 72 residential apartments were proposed for the site.

It was purchased in 1982 by Dr Terry Bolin and his wife Robin who with the financial assistance of the Heritage Council Heritage Incentives Programme completed a considerable schedule of works conserving and restoring Rathven.

It was transferred to the State Heritage Register on 2 April 1999. (Randwick and District Historical Society) (Heritage Office files)

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
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 professional people-
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 Changing land uses - from rural to suburban-
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-
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 urban settings-
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. Architectural styles and periods - Victorian Italianate-
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. Landscaping - Victorian gardenesque 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. Wealthy pastoralists homes in the city-
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 new house-
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 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 Gardening-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with George Raffan, carpenter, cement industry pioneer, pastoralist-

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 0013902 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0013923 Oct 81 1585448
Local Environmental PlanRandwick Local Environmental Plan 1998 - Sch3 30 Apr 99   
National Trust of Australia register  9451   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Tourism 2007Rathven View detail
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Rathven View detail
WrittenChancellor, Jonathan, "Domain - Houses", in Sydney Morning Herald, 26-27/2/112011Randwick's Record-beater
WrittenPollon, F. & Healy, G.1988Randwick entry, in 'The Book of Sydney Suburbs'
WrittenRay White Real estate2011real estate advertisement, Rathven

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: 5045400
File number: S90/06075 & HC 32206


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