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"Greycliffe House" Top 5 Page for this destination Historic Buildings Tip by iandsmith

Historic Buildings, Sydney: 11 reviews and 19 photos

  Splendid gothic Greycliffe House
by iandsmith

Favorite thing: If you go down Vaucluse Road at Vaucluse you'll end up at Nielsen Park, a lovely spot worth a visit in its own right.
Whilst there you'll probably notice a lovely old mansion and think it has historic significance. It does. It's called Greycliffe House and was built around 1850, being completed in 1851. The owner was an early property developer called John Reeve and he married (1847) into a famous family by wedding Fanny Catherine Wentworth (William Charles Wentworth's daughter). The amazing thing is though, they never lived in it!

Fondest memory: Indeed, they returned to England and for the next 60 years bankers, business men and politicians took up residence here.
One of the more colourful was Lady Isabella Martin who resided here with her 14 children, obviously before television was invented! She loved it here because she could escape from the "lethal air" and "floating germs" of Sydney city.
Fitzwilliam Wentworth purchased the building in 1887, even though he was living in England at the time (though he had leased it earlier), but it wasn't until 1894 that he moved in.
Just three years later there was a devastating fire that destroyed a large collection of furniture, artworks and china that Wentworth had brought out from England.
It was rebuilt in similar vein though the roof was made out of fire resistant tiles instead of shingle this time.
Under public pressure the house was bought by the government in 1911 and became a children's hospital for treatment of gastroenteritis until 1934 when it was turned into a Mothercraft Training Centre.
The original property was a 32.4 hectare estate purchased by Thomas Laycock, quartermaster of the N.S.W. Corps. It was then purchased to Captain Bennett in 1897 but he sold it to the colourful identity Captain John Piper who was the collector not only of customs but also some extra money (12,000 pounds) for his own pocket which led to him being sacked and W.C. Wentworth took possession in 1827 and added a further 370 acres to the estate, including the site of Greycliffe House. In those days it took several hours by horse to get to Sydney and these estates were self sufficient in many ways, particularly when it came to food.

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jun 23, 2009
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