Elizabeth Farm & Hambledon Cottage
A TURBULENT PAST
With its deep, shady verandahs and elegant symmetry, Elizabeth Farm is an iconic early Colonial bungalow. Begun in 1793, it was extended and modified over the next 35 years for John and Elizabeth Macarthur, best known as pioneers of the Australian wool industry. (Taken from Internet Research)
And so, fellow Probus members, our wonderful day began. We appeared to have good numbers and absolutely glorious weather. Our very comfortable coach, left exactly on time. I am an avid fan of early Australian History and was so looking forward to our trip.
First stop, Elizabeth Farm for a tour, but first a Devonshire Tea to die for! I defy anyone to make a better scone!
Our guide for this property was Scott Hill. We learnt, very quickly, that Scott was absolutely passionate about his subject. His knowledge & expertise was extensive & very informative.
Looking at the property to-day, it was hard to imagine its beginnings as a simple four room abode. At one stage, John sent Elizabeth to Sydney to live as he did not think it was a suitable dwelling for her.
Amazingly this original house still stands as the central rooms of the bungalow that visitors see today. As mentioned above, over the next 35 years, many extensions and improvements were made, including the cool, wide verandahs, so necessary for our climate.
By 1881 Elizabeth Farm was falling into ruin and was sold. After some 22 years, during which the property was used for various pursuits, the Swann Family bought the property and coaxed it back to life. It was finally transferred to the NSW government.
When one enters these old buildings, there is an ambience of times past. A gentle, unhurried, way of living.
This is not altogether true of the Macarthurs as Elizabeth certainly had her share of worry as her husband’s health deteriorated.
We have lost so many of our heritage buildings. Thank goodness we have people like Scott and many volunteers who give up endless hours of their time to preserve such buildings and enthuse us with their history.
After a fantastic lunch at Rose Hill Bowling Club (buffet style, well worth a visit), we travelled virtually around the corner to Hambledon Cottage. This dwelling, originally still on Macarthur land and a stone’s throw from Elizabeth Farm was used to house male guests as the bedrooms at the homestead became rather limited.
Our guide pointed out to us there was a small room at the end of the veranda. This was set up for a guest who might arrive during the night. It was plainly furnished, perhaps with refreshments. The door to the interior of the house would be locked. The traveller then would make his presence known to the family in the morning.
In later years the Governess from Elizabeth Farm, Miss Penelope Lucas, resided at Hambledon, most probably with a servant. We were told she stayed about 9 years until her death. Also, when her husband was experiencing one of his manic ‘episodes’, Elizabeth, with her daughters, was known to stay at the cottage.
Hambledon Cottage fared a lot better in later life than the main house. After the Macarthur era, it was occupied by a series of private families. As it stood in an exclusive area of Parramatta, it attracted families of ‘means’. It is mainly due to their vigilance that the cottage stands so well today.
The building itself, and the rooms, are smaller in size than Elizabeth Farm, but once again Is presented as extremely comfortable and I am sure its various inhabitants found it a very welcoming home.
Currently, Hambledon Cottage is owned by Parramatta Council & leased to the local Historical Society. Recent maintenance includes a new roof and beautiful new sandstone paving for the outside verandahs.
The Society holds it’s meetings in the building as well as mounting exhibitions of interest.
In our own Macarthur area, we are very fortunate that we have many fine heritage buildings, some of which we are allowed entry from time to time. Funds are always scarce for these projects but we must endeavour to cherish them for future generations.
Thank you Steve for arranging such a wonderful programme.
In Probus friendship
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