Price Morris Cottage | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Price Morris Cottage

Item details

Name of item: Price Morris Cottage
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Cottage
Location: Lat: -33.2902331829 Long: 150.9671023380
Primary address: 37 Upper Macdonald Road, St. Albans, NSW 2775
Local govt. area: Hawkesbury
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT26 DP753793
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
37 Upper Macdonald RoadSt. AlbansHawkesbury  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Price Morris ComplexPrivate19 Oct 05

Statement of significance:

The wooden cottage is significant at the State level because it embodies to an unusual degree the features of pioneer settlement beyond the Hawkesbury River. The construction details of the house are significantly legible, showing expansion and adaptation as well as many original features. Its situation, on a levelled area on a hillside overlooking arible and grazing land beside the river, gives it high aesthetic qualities and is recognised by artists and travellers in the area. It is exceptional in having remained in ownership of the original family for over 160 years. Its importance to early Methodists in the lower Hawkesbury before a chapel was built is also significant (Jack 1999)
Date significance updated: 21 Dec 10
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.


Builder/Maker: Price Price Morris and family
Construction years: 1835-
Physical description: A slab cottage with weatherboard extrusion on a levelled area supported by stone walling. There are five rooms with verandahs on three sides and a detached fibro-clad kitchen. The main house has one large external stone chimney which has structural defects. There is a surrounding farm complex of stables, dairy and milking bails, honey house, packing shed and privy. All roofs are corrugated iron over shingles. The main house is protected by a high wire fence for security. (Jack 1999).

Cottage restored and in 1979 a bed-and-breakfast. Farm has dry stone walls (Kingston, Daphne, pers.comm., 2/11/2012).
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physical condition is poor to fair. Archaeological potential is high.
Date condition updated:27 Jul 00
Modifications and dates: c1835 - slab cottage. Four rooms initally
c1860s - weatherboard extrusion of 1 room
c1940s - fibro kitchen with stone chimney built

c1979 - cottage restored and operating as a bed-and-breakfast (Kingston, pers.comm., 2/11/2012).
Current use: Accommodation
Former use: Residence


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).

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.

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).

Price Morris Cottage:
Price Morris was a Welshman who was in 1812 transported, with a life sentence, to New South Wales. Morris was a man of about 29 when he arrived in the colony. After six years, around 1818, he married Mary, who was born in the colony and was twenty years her husband's junior. Over the first ten years of marriage, Price and Mary had five children, Sarah (b. 1819), Elizabeth (b. 182 1), Price junior (b. 1824), William (b. 1826) and Mary (b. 1828). By 1828 Price senior had his ticket of leave and the family was living on 12 hectares (30 a) at Lower Portland on the Hawkesbury, cultivating 10 hectares (25 a) and running half a dozen cattle.

Shortly after the surveyor Felton Mathew compiled his map of all the occupied farms in the Macdonald Valley in 1833-4 (on which the Morrises do not feature), Price and Mary moved to St Albans, acquiring portion 26 in Macdonald parish county Hunter and on this land, just to the south of the swampy land in the middle of the rectangular block, they built the slab section of the present cottage. The cottage was deliberately on an elevated site to minimise the danger of flooding and overlooked their cultivation paddock. The exact date of building is not known, but it is likely to be between 1835 and 1837. Certainly the house was in existence by 1838 when what is claimed to have been the first Methodist service in the area was held in the cottage.

Methodism was a strong bond between the Morrises and the Walker family who had moved from the Hawkesbury to the Macdonald around 1830 and established three generations of Methodist preachers. The Walters of the Industrious Settler, some of the Baileys and the large Thompson fan-lily were also Methodists living nearby. This Methodist group was a counter-balance to the powerful Catholic influence of Sheehy and Watson who gave land for the Catholic churches of St Joseph's and Our Lady of Loreto in 1839. Catholicism was also strong in the new township of St Albans.

The survey in 1837 and gazettal in 1841 of a government township just across the Macdonald River from Price Morris's cottage confirmed the strategic nature of his purchase. In the 1830s there was a long-established cattle drovers' camp and a 'bullock wharf' nearby on the river, at the head of navigation. The creation of the small grid pattern township of St Albans in the 1840s brought more population, much of it Catholic and Anglican, purchasing town allotments in 1842 and thereafter. The Anglican church was opened in 1843, in the township, the Settlers Arms in 1848. A Methodist church was finally built in 1853.'

By 1844 Price and Mary Morris had eleven children, establishing a network of interrelationships with other valley families. But the parents then returned to England and never returned to Australia. Price died in 1867, his wife in 1888. Price junior is presumably the Price Morris who was buried in St Albans cemetery in the year of his father's death, 1867.

Margaret, one of the daughters-in-law of Price senior, was 'Mag the Midwife' (b. 1839) whose business brought many visitors to the Morris cottage until her death in 1907.

The third generation included William Price Morris (1874-1957), a grandson of Price and Mary: his memories of nineteenth-century St Albans were extensively used by Mrs Hutton Neve in her history of the valley.

After William Price Morris died in 1957, the land remained in Morris hands but the original cottage was occupied by Miss Beatrice Rose, a member of a very early Hawkesbury and Webbs Creek family. In Miss Rose's time a fibro addition was made to the house, to serve as a dining-room, while she used both the huge indoor fireplace in winter and an outdoor fireplace in summer. Miss Rose died in the 1970s and the cottage has remained unoccupied. Linton Morris and his wife, the owners of portion 26, occupied a modem house on the north end of the land. After Mr Morris' death, his widow continued to own and occupy the land, assisted by her children. The property is now owned by her daughter, Mrs Joyce Stepto and her husband Doug. (Jack 2000)

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 (none)-
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. (none)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The cottage has high significance as the home of prominent Welsh Methodist settlers in the Lower Hawkesbury for several generations. It is the earliest intact slab complex in the valley and has particular significance as the earliest Methodist meeting place in the area.
(Jack 1999)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Perched on a terrace set on the limit of cleared land on a well-treed hillside, with a stone wall retaining the levelled building site, overlooking the original cultivation and grazing paddocks, the cottage is exceptionally well sited and visible.
(Jack 1999)
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
In the 1830s a centre for Methodist meetings. In the Victorian period a midwifes home. In the twentieth century a well known scenic attraction for artists and photographers and in the area known as the home of a significant family for seven generations, the cottage has high social significance.
(Jack 1999)
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
It has high significance for the details of vernacular building in various forms of wooden construction, detailing and wall coverings.
(Jack 1999)
SHR Criteria f)
The uncompromised setting is now rare in the area; no comparable houses in the area has such undisturbed family ownership; it is uncommonly legible and well-preserved for a study of vernacular building; and it has retained unusual social significance over its entire history up to the present.
(Jack 1999)
Integrity/Intactness: Most details of the structure are well preserved and despite decay through lack of occupation the building is basically conservable. The addition at the rear are part and parcel of growth over time.
(Jack 1999)
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
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.

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


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0144422 Dec 00 16813889

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenDharug and Lower Hawkesbury Historical Society1987The Ferry, the Branch, the Creek.
WrittenIan Jack1999NSW State Heritage Inventory form
WrittenIan Jack1990Exploring the Hawkesbury
WrittenKingston, Daphne2012personal communication
WrittenM Hutton Neve1978The Forgotten Valley
TourismNational Trust2006Price Morris Accommodation Information View detail
WrittenNichols, Michelle2010Macquarie and the Hawkesbury District
TourismPrice Morris Cottage2006Price Morris Cottage Accommodation Homepage View detail

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: 5051285
File number: H00/00417

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