Aberglasslyn House: The monumental Georgian pile designed by architect John Verge for George Hobler remained unfinished following Hobler’s insolvency in the crash of the early 1840s. This is the seventh in my series on New England's built landscape and architecture.
The economic collapse in the early 1840s that followed the excesses of the previous two decades brought to an end the first phase of mansion building.
At Aberglasslyn outside Maitland, Aberglasslyn House, the monumental Georgian pile designed by architect John Verge for George Hobler, remained unfinished following Hobler’s insolvency.
At Dalwood, George Wyndham took his family north in search of new opportunities, leaving Dalwood House vacant for a number of years. At Port Macquarie, Lake Innes House went into decline as Archibald Clunes Innes’ financial difficulties worsened.
While severe, the downturn was relatively short and was followed by four decades of economic expansion. Wool prices were good, while the gold rushes created a demand for meat and other agricultural products. With greater security and more funds, the squatters began to invest in new homesteads.
Yugilbar Castle: It took Ogilvie and his German workers six years and £8,000 to complete the 40 room dwelling to Ogilvie’s satisfaction.
In 1859, Edward Ogilvie returned from
Europe with his new wife. Determined to establish a home
that would match his dynastic ambitions, in 1860 he began construction to his
own somewhat idiosyncratic design of the building that would become known as . Yugilbar Castle
Built from local materials with imported decorations and finishings, it took Ogilvie and his German workers six years and £8,000 to complete the forty room dwelling to Ogilvie’s satisfaction.
Another surviving homestead from this period is Strathbogie near Glen Innes. Built for Hugh Gordon in 1868 to a design by
architect John C Dury, the twin gabled
homestead is built from local pink granite. Sydney
In 1861, the passage of the first Robertson Land Act had a significant effect on the
built landscape. The legislation was intended to break up the big squatting
stations making land available for closer settlement, but had two opposing
Some land was opened for closer settlement. The free selectors had to occupy and improve their blocks, leading to the creation of smaller and simpler homesteads, the development of new small settlements. We can still see this pattern in the local landscape.
While some land was open to closer settlement, the squatters were also able to use the legislation to expand their own freehold title, using a variety of sometimes dubious techniques such as dummying. This involved sponsoring someone to select land on the basis that they would subsequently sell it back to the squatter.
These actions came at a cost, leaving station owners with smaller runs, more freehold title, but also greater debts that had to be serviced. As debt reduced, the now second generation owners began to plan new homesteads.
The result was something of a building boom, creating some of the bigger mansions that now form such a prominent part of the built landscape.
Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 18 October 2017. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because they are not all on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited/History Matters columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014, here for 2015, here for 2016, here 2017.