Harper's Mansion

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Coordinates: 34°30′24″S 150°20′13″E / 34.5066°S 150.3369°E / -34.5066; 150.3369

Harper’s Mansion
Harper's Mansion front.jpg
Harper’s Mansion
General information
Type Homestead
Architectural style Georgian
Location New South Wales
Address corner of Oxley and Wilkinson Streets, Berrima, New South Wales
Owner National Trust of Australia (NSW) - Trustee

Harper’s Mansion is a historic homestead in Berrima, New South Wales. It is recognised for its Georgian design. Harper's Mansion is now a property of the National Trust of Australia (NSW), which acquired it in 1978.[1][2]


James Harper, a district constable in Sutton Forest, completed his house in 1834. He was also the first licensee of the Surveyor General Inn at Berrima.

Harper died in 1845 with financial difficulties. It appears he had overreached himself and was caught by the recession of the 1840s. Berrima failed to develop as he had hoped. Many blocks had been sold to speculators, but few had been developed and the streets were not cleared until 1837. In 1846 William Hutchison, as mortgagee in possession, took ownership of Harper's house.

The house was leased by the church from 1853. It was used as a presbytery for the priests of St Francis Xavier Church Berrima in 1853. In 1898 the priest was relocated to Moss Vale and the house was vacant until four Sisters of the Daughters of Our lady of the Sacred heart, who had opened a school in Berrima, used it as a convent from 1903 to 1909.[1]

Between 1909 and 1970 the Church leased the house to various tenants and Harper's' Mansion progressively fell into disrepair. In 1950 the two-storeyed verandah, which had replaced the earlier single-storeyed verandah, collapsed. By then the upper storey, with broken panes stuffed with sacks, was no longer in use. The original detached brick kitchen had collapsed and a fuel stove had been installed in the room to the right of the front door. A small corrugated iron shed near the back door served as a laundry and bathroom with water being drawn from the well by a rope and bucket.

In 1970 the Church sold the now derelict property to Mr and Mrs W.G.E. Williams. The new owners intended to restore the house, but on realising the enormity of the task, they decided to sell. Eager to have the house restored, the Mittagong Shire Council applied for a grant, then transferred the grant to the National Trust of Australia (NSW) and facilitated the sale of the property in 1978 which included a subdivision. The firm of the heritage architects Clive Lucas Stapleton and Partners undertook the restoration and Harper's Mansion was opened to the public in 1985.

Public property and garden[edit]

In 2007, the property was re-opened to the public and further work was begun on the garden, which had been laid out in 1999.[3] The Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales Colonial Plant List provided information about the most likely original plantings. In 2011 the eastern main bed of perennials was replaced with heritage roses, many of which would have entered the commercial market before the middle of the 19th century. Among them are: Aimée Vibert (1828), Belle Isis (1845), Bullata (1809), Chapeau de Napoleon (1828), Charles de Mills (before 1790), Hermosa (1840), Konigin von Danemark (1816), Rosa bracteata, Rosa gallica officinalis and Rosa laevigata.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Harper's Mansion". The National Trust, New South Wales. Archived from the original on 2012-09-20. Retrieved 2012-09-06. 
  2. ^ Beaumont, Ann (2013). A light in the window: Harper's Mansion - Berrima, the place and its people. Millers Point, NSW: National Trust of Australia (New South Wales). ISBN 9780980446487. 
  3. ^ a b Savage, Eric. "Harper's Mansion transformed". National Trust Magazine. No. Summer:Nov-Jan 2015. p. 17. 

External links[edit]