Discussions on the history and historiography of Australia's New England

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Grand designs for early Northern NSW homes

Lake Innes House: An 1837 oil painting of Lake Innes House then at the peak of its luxury. The house is now in ruins. This is the fifth in my new series on New England's built landscape and architecture. 

European occupation came to Northern New South Wales in waves, waves that are reflected in the varying pattern of the built environment across the North.

The Hunter Valley was first occupied as a penal colony. In January 1812, a small number of convicts were allowed to take up land for farms. From 1817, further settlement was allowed, but it was not until the opening of the penal colony at Port Macquarie in 1821 and the subsequent closure of the Newcastle penal colony that Valley was opened to full European occupation.

From 1826, squatters from the Hunter Valley and Hawkesbury began to seek grazing beyond the Liverpool Plains. In 1830, the Port Macquarie area was opened for settlement, creating a new route to the Tablelands. Whereas those in the Hunter and at Port Macquarie could gain full ownership of land by grant or purchase, those inland or further north were simply squatting on the land.

By the time the New England squatters were building their first slab huts, an established built landscape had emerged further south, one that we can still see today.

The presence small farmers meant that there were smaller homesteads, while some owners began the construction of New England’s first grand homes. The remains of two very early examples survive today.
Fine example: Dalwood House south view from the river. The French doors open into a central courtyard, creating air flows. 
In 1829 in the Hunter, George Wyndham began the construction of Dalwood House, a house later memorialised in Judith Wright’s Generations of Men.

A National Trust property included in the Australian Government’s Register of the National Estate, Dalwood House is the oldest known example of an Australian house built in the Georgian Grecian style that was becoming so popular.

Probably designed by Wyndham himself, the house is built of locally quarried stone and bricks fired on the site with cedar for the fine joinery cut from trees on Edward Gostwyck Cory’s nearby Gostwyck holding on the Patterson River.

It was Cory who discovered the route over the Moonbi Range later followed by the Great North Road and then established Gostwyck, Terrible Vale and Salisbury Plains stations.

Less remains of the second grand house, Lake Innes House built by Archibald Clunes Innes near Port Macquarie using convict labour. .Construction began soon after Innes arrived back in Port Macquarie in 1830 to take up a land grant and continued over much of the next decade.

By 1840, the house had 22 rooms with an underground cistern, a bathroom, privies and a boiler for providing hot water, providing a base for the lavish entertainment and hospitality .Separate bachelor quarters, servants quarters and an estate workers village were nearby, as well as stables and various farm building.

The ruins at Lake Innes are now administered by the NSW Parks and Wild Life Service which offers guided tours. 
Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 4 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. 


Johnb said...

Lake Innes House would appear to have been like Topsy Jim, it grew and it grew..I always thought the Liverpool Plains were accessed and settled via the Murrurundi Gap, will have to do some further reading on the Hastings River Settlement and John Oxley’s journeys.

Hels said...

Dalwood House used Georgian architecture, a style the architects presumably learned in cold climates. How clever for Dalwood to incorporate designs that would maximise internal cooling via air flow.

Jim Belshaw said...

I think that's a fair description of Lake Innes, John. I think that's right re Murrurundi. The Moonbi range is the other side. The penal settlement at Port Macquarie is a fascinating story.

Hi hels. Wyndham probably drew his initial ideas from Dinton House - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philipps_House - a truly Georgian pile. I am sure that you are right on the climate adjustment. I have a number of photos that I should share.