Peninsula House, Tebbutt's Observatory | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Peninsula House, Tebbutt's Observatory

Item details

Name of item: Peninsula House, Tebbutt's Observatory
Other name/s: The Peninsular House; Peninsular House; Tebbutt's Observatory
Type of item: Landscape
Group/Collection: Farming and Grazing
Category: Homestead Complex
Location: Lat: -33.6072540002 Long: 150.8313288260
Primary address: Palmer Street, Windsor, NSW 2756
Parish: St Matthew
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Hawkesbury
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Deerubbin
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP731655
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Palmer StreetWindsorHawkesburySt MatthewCumberlandPrimary Address
John StreetWindsorHawkesburySt MatthewCumberlandAlternate Address
Stiles StreetWindsorHawkesburySt MatthewCumberlandAlternate Address
Livingstone StreetWindsorHawkesburySt MatthewCumberlandAlternate Address
Palmer StreetWindsorHawkesburySt MatthewCumberlandDuplicate Address
Livingstone StreetWindsorHawkesburySt MatthewCumberlandDuplicate Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Mr John TebbuttPrivate26 Mar 99

Statement of significance:

An important and unique group of early and late Victorian buildings remaining in good condition and having an interesting historical genesis. The buildings, with the surrounding rural landscape, make an outstanding contribution to the northeastern area of Windsor. (Sheedy 1975)

The Tebbutt Peninsula House was built in 1845 by famous amateur astronomer, John Tebbutt II, who discovered two comets which today bear his name. (AHC press release, 2004)
Date significance updated: 28 May 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

Builder/Maker: Observatory - John Tebbutt
Construction years: 1845-1845
Physical description: Site:
3.23 hecatres, located close to Windsor on high ground, which, when the river (Hawkesbury) floods, becomes a secluded, unspoilt island, filled with native plants and fauna and protected from development (Le Sueur, 2017, 7).

Garden:
A mature garden setting surrounds the house with large mature trees including towering hoop pines (Araucaria cunninghamii), Eucalyptus spp., Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis) and others (Stuart Read, pers.comm., 2/3/2012).

Peninsula House:
A two storey Georgian style house of sandstock brick. The main roof and verandah are slate, the latter supported on delicate cast iron columns, the centre bay marked with a simple pediment. Doors are six panel and windows are six pane double hung sashes with stone sills and were originally shuttered, whilst sandstone is used for the foundations, a string course and flagging to the verandah. A two storey late Victorian brick wing was built at the rear. The original house contains some fine Georgian marble chimney pieces and cedar joinery (Sheedy 1975).

Five bedrooms, two one-bedroom apartments. Marble chimney pieces and cedar joinery, wide verandahs and a slate roof on delicate cast-iron columns (Le Sueur, 2017, 7).

Tebbutt's Observatory:
There are two brick observatories in the old garden. The smaller one is circular with a segmental flat iron pitched roof. The larger one is also face brick with sandstone quoins, classical pediment over a porch and dentilled cornice to the roof parapet. Windows are of unusual proportions with stuccoed decorations and timber shutters, while the iron segmental roof is double pitched octagonal in form.

Other outbuildings:
Original stable building (Le Sueur, 2017, 7).

A separate building formerly used as a function centre, able to seat 100 guests (ibid, 2017).

Facliities such as a manager's office and lock-up storage bays (ibid, 2017).
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physical condition is good. Archaelogical potential is medium.
Date condition updated:25 Aug 97
Modifications and dates: 1845 - Peninsula House built
1864 - smaller observatory built
1879 - larger observatory built
Further information: Federal CHHP funding 2004/5 of $84,425 to replace the leaking roof and other repairs
Current use: Residence; restaurant & function centre
Former use: Residence and observatory

History

Historical notes: INDIGENOUS OCCUPATION
The lower Hawkesbury was home to the Dharug people. The proximity to the Nepean River and South Creek qualifies it as a key area for food resources for indigenous groups (Proudfoot, 1987).
The Dharug and Darkinjung people called the river Deerubbin and it was a vital source of food and transport (Nichols, 2010).

NON-INDIGENOUS OCCUPATION
Governor Arthur Phillip explored the local area in search of suitable agricultural land in 1789 and discovered and named the Hawkesbury River after Baron Hawkesbury. This region played a significant role in the early development of the colony with European settlers established here by 1794. Situated on fertile floodplains and well known for its abundant agriculture, Green Hills (as it was originally called) supported the colony through desperate times. However, frequent flooding meant that the farmers along the riverbanks were often ruined.

1794: The study area covering allotments at 23 through to 39 North Street, Windsor, is located on land first alienated for European purposes in a grant made by Francis Grose of thirty acres to Samuel Wilcox, who named it Wilcox Farm. It is likely that land clearance and agricultural activities as well as some building works took place during this period and during the subsequent of occupation;

Early 19th century: Former Wilcox Farm was incorporated into a larger holding of 1500 acres known as Peninsula Farm.

Governor Lachlan Macquarie replaced Governor Bligh, taking up duty on 1/1/1810. Under his influence the colony propsered. His vision was for a free community, working in conjunction with the penal colony. He implemented an unrivalled public works program, completing 265 public buildings, establishing new public amenities and improving existing services such as roads. Under his leadership Hawkesbury district thrived. He visited the district on his first tour and recorded in his journal on 6/12/1810: 'After dinner I chrestened the new townships...I gave the name of Windsor to the town intended to be erected in the district of the Green Hills...the township in the Richmond district I have named Richmond...' the district reminded Macquarie of those towns in England, whilst Castlereagh, Pitt Town and Wilberforce were named after English statesmen. These are often referred to as Macquarie's Five Towns. Their localities, chiefly Windsor and Richmond, became more permanent with streets, town square and public buildings.

Macquarie also appointed local men in positions of authority. In 1810 a group of settlers sent a letter to him congratulating him on his leadership and improvements. It was published in the Sydney Gazette with his reply. He was 'much pleased with the sentiments' of the letter and assured them that the Haweksbury would 'always be an object of the greatest interest' to him (Nichols, 2010).

In marking out the towns of Windsor and Richmond in 1810, Governor Macquarie was acting on instructions from London. All of the Governors who held office between 1789 and 1822, from Phillip to Brisbane, recieved the same Letter of Instruction regarding the disposal of the 'waste lands of the Crown' that Britain claimed as her own. This included directives for the formation of towns and thus the extension of British civilisation to its Antipodean outpost (Proudfoot 1987, 7-9).

In 1842 John Tebbutt's father who had migrated as a free settler in 1801 to the Hawkesbury as a successful farmer: Le Sueur, 2017, 7) acquired land on this 'peninsula' and built the Peninsula House (also known as Peninsular House) in 1845. A two storey wing was later added at the rear.

John Tebbutt (1824-1916) was born at Windsor, educated locally and developed an interest in astronomy (ASHET, 2008, 3). He was inspired by his school teacher, Edward Quaife, who encouraged him. He became passionately interested in mechanical objects and 'celestial mechanisms', gradually accumulating instruments and experience (Le Sueur, 2017, 7).

Tebbutt bought his first instrument, a marine sextant, in 1853. He achieved international fame when he was the first to discover the 'Great Comet of 1861', announcing his discovery of one of the finest comets on record. In 1862 he refused the position of Government Astronomer for New South Wales (ASHET, 2008, 3) because it meant leaving Windsor.

In 1864 John Tebbutt erected a small round wooden observatory in the garden (since demolished) and in 1879 he built a second, larger circular observatory close to the old one. (Le Sueur, 2017 says the first wooden observatory was builtin 1863 (since demolished), a second circular structure was built in 1874 and in 1879 he built a further square building).

Tebbutt was a private astronomer, a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (ASHET, 2008, 3) who continued to make patient, reliable astronomical observations and published regularly, building an international reputation (ASHET, 2008, 3).

From the observatories he watched various astronomical phenomena - lunar occultations of stars, Jupiter's satellites, comets, minor planets, double stars, transits of Mercury and Venus - and his work won international acknowledgement.

In 1872 he bought an 11.4cm refracting telescope with which he observed the transit of Venus in 1874 and in 1886 imported a 200mm Grubb refracting telescope and housed it in a substantial brick observatory building on his property at Windsor. The telescope later went to New Zealand but was returned to Australia at the time of the Bicentenary and rehoused in its original location. Hawkesbury City Council now owns the telescope.

Tebbutt spent his whole life at Windsor, devoting most of his time to astronomy. He never left Australia, but corresponded with colleagues around the world and published widely. Tebbutt's 'Astronomical Memoirs' of 1908 listed his 371 publications in various learned journals. His image was on the $100 note from 1984-1996.

He had 6 daughters and one son. His direct descendents still own and occupy the property at Windsor. He died in 1916 and was buried in the Anglican cemetery in a vault that he designed himself. The funeral was one of the largest ever held at Windsor. (ASHET, 2008, 3).

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 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-
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 countryside of rural charm-
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 demonstrating styles in landscape design-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Science-Activities associated with systematic observations, experiments and processes for the explanation of observable phenomena (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Science-Activities associated with systematic observations, experiments and processes for the explanation of observable phenomena Astronomy-
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 (none)-
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 Country Estate-
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 regional 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 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. 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. Living in a rural homestead-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Visiting heritage places-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with John Tebbutt Jr., private astronomer-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
An important and unique group of early and late Victorian buildings remaining in good condition and having an interesting historical genesis. (Sheedy 1975) Associated with amateur astronomer John Tebbutt who achieved international recognition for his work at Windsor.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Unusual and fine early observatory structure. The buildings, with the surrounding rural landscape, make an outstanding contribution to the north eastern area of Windsor. (Sheedy 1975)
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Rare early private observatory.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Characteristic of early colonial houses in the area.
Integrity/Intactness: Good condition.
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 workHeritage Act general maintenance garden maintenance
Also, refer to standard exemptions gazetted 23 October 1998.
Refer to standard exemptions gazetted 23 October 1998.

Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1):
(1) The maintenance of any building or item on the site, where maintenance means the continuous protective care of existing material.
(2) Garden maintenance including cultivation, pruning, weed control, the repair and maintenance of existing fences, gates and garden walls, tree surgery but not extensive lopping.
Jul 10 1987
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 0002802 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0002814 Dec 79 1786349
Local Environmental Plan  18 Dec 89   
Register of the National Estate  21 Mar 78   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Other   
WrittenASHET News (Australian Society of Historical Engineering Technology)2008John Tebbutt, Ken Beames and their observatories
TourismAttraction Homepage Tebbutt's Observatory View detail
WrittenD Sheedy1975National Trust Classification Card - Tebbutts Observatory
WrittenHelen Proudfoot1987The Historic Buildings of Windsor and Richmond
WrittenLe Sueur, Angela2017'1844 Peninsula House, Windsor - One of a kind - and seeking an owner'
WrittenNichols, Michelle (Local Studies Librarian)2010Macquarie and the Hawkesbury District

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: 5045697
File number: EF14/4715; S90/6128;HC 32162


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