Bronte House

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Bronte House
Painting of Bronte House by Georgiana Lowe
Painting of giant bamboo at Bronte House by Georgiana Lowe

Bronte House is an historic house in the Sydney suburb of Bronte. It is situated at 470 Bronte Road and is listed on the Register of the National Estate[1] as well as having a New South Wales state heritage listing.[2]

History and description[edit]

Bronte House was originally designed by the Colonial Architect Mortimer Lewis, who set it on the edge of what is now known as Bronte Gully. He obtained the first land grant of 12 acres which was right to the shoreline of Bronte Beach and was also known as Nelson Bay.[3] Lewis decided to consolidate his holdings including the whole area which formed Bronte Park and sited the house on the estate.[3]

Construction began circa 1838, but Lewis sold the house in 1843 for 420 pounds[4] when it was still incomplete, to the barrister Robert Lowe. Lowe completed the construction of the house in 1845 and its gardens and named it after Lord Nelson, who was known as the Duke of Bronte (a town in Sicily).[5]

Lowe's wife Georgina was a skilled watercolour artists, botanist and gardener. Georgina's sketches and watercolours provide the earliest images of Bronte House and the surrounding area. Georgina also sketched images of the New South Wales countryside. Her sketchbook is held at the State Library NSW.[6] Georgina also took an interest in the estate and established the first Bronte House gardens which have become so well celebrated. Georgina's original sketches note some of the original plants including a giant bunch of bamboo which is still there presently. The Lowe's lived in the residence for four years.[7] Robert Lowe, an Oxford Graduate and member of the English Bar, won a seat on the Legislative Council and was admitted to the New South Wales Bar.[8]

The house has been described as a "magnificent, mid-Victorian mansion".[9] It is a sandstone, one-storey bungalow with verandahs on the west and east sides. It features a service wing that extends to the south, plus two octagonal rooms with cone-shaped roofs.

In 1849 the Lowes sold Bronte House and returned to England where Robert was elected to the House of Commons and later appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer. In 1880 he became Viscount Sherbrooke.[10]

The garden was neglected over the years, until well-known Sydney restaurant critic, Leo Schofield, became the tenant. Schofield has been credited with restoring the garden.[11] The house is now owned by Waverley Counci l and is leased to private tenants, who are expected to maintain the house and gardens and open it to the public a few times a year. Since 2001 the garden layout has been directed by landscape designer Myles Baldwin.

Early residents[12][edit]

  • Robert and Georgina Lowe
  • George Alfred Lloyd 1853
  • J Lublin 1853-1854
  • John James Falconer 1854-1861
  • Joseph B Holdsworth and family 1861-1882
  • Stanley Ebsworth and family 1882-1948>
  • 1948 Waverley Council - In the mid 80's extensive restoration work was undertaken and Bronte House now remains in its former glory and is the oldest known home still standing in the Waverley Council area.

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Heritage of Australia, Macmillan Company, 1981, p.2/121
  2. ^ State Heritage website
  3. ^ a b "Bronte House and gardens". Bronte Park Draft of Management. March 1990. 
  4. ^ "A revival for Bronte House". The National Trust Quarterly. 2 April 1998. 
  5. ^ "Bronte House: Waverley's oldest property" (PDF). Waverley Council. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 December 2015. Retrieved 5 November 2015. 
  6. ^ "NSW State Library Listing: Georgina Lowe album of drawings of New South Wales views". NSW State Library. 1842–1850. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  7. ^ "Bronte House: Waverley's oldest property" (PDF). Waverley Council. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 December 2015. Retrieved 5 November 2015. 
  8. ^ "A revival for Bronte House". The National Trust Quarterly. 2 April 1998. 
  9. ^ State Heritage website
  10. ^ "A revival for Bronte House". The National Trust Quarterly. 2 April 1998. 
  11. ^ Bronte House Website
  12. ^ "Bronte House". Waverley's Heritage No.4. 1981. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°54′08″S 151°15′51″E / 33.9023°S 151.2643°E / -33.9023; 151.2643