Rose Bay Cottage

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Rose Bay Cottage (then called Rose Bay Lodge) circa 1855 when it was owned by Sir Daniel Cooper

Rose Bay Cottage (also called Rose Bay Lodge or Salisbury Court) is a heritage home in Rose Bay, Sydney, Australia. It is listed by the Heritage Council as a building of historical significance. It is the oldest surviving house in the Woollahra Municipality.[1]


The well-known architect John Verge built Rose Bay Cottage in 1834 for James Holt, who lived in it until 1843.[2] In 1843, Sir Daniel Cooper, who was the brother-in-law of James Holt,[3] arrived in Sydney and took up residence at the cottage.

Rose Bay Cottage as the residence of Sir Daniel Cooper[edit]

Sir Daniel Cooper

Daniel Cooper was born in 1821 in Lancashire, England. He was the second son of Thomas Cooper, a merchant, and came to Australia with his parents while still a child. He returned to England at the age of 14 to complete his education, but came back to Australia in 1843 and became a commercial partner with James Holt.[4] In the same year, he moved into Rose Bay Cottage as a bachelor but three years later, in 1846, he married Elizabeth Hill who was the third daughter of William Hill Esq of Sydney.[5] The couple lived in the house until 1848. In the Sydney Morning Herald in March of that year, there was an advertisement stating that "Rose Bay Cottage", the residence of Sir Daniel Cooper was available to rent.[6] James Moffitt (1802–1872) who was a notable stationer, bookseller and engraver, leased the house for 7 years. Sir Daniel Cooper returned to the cottage in 1855. There is a birth notice for a daughter to Mrs Daniel Cooper in the Sydney Morning Herald in August 1855. This time the cottage is referred to as "Rose Bay Lodge".[7]

By this time, Sir Daniel Cooper was a member of Parliament and had been elected as Speaker of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly.[8] He must have made some substantial improvements to the garden, as the photo of his house shows a fountain. Mr Francis Grundy, in his memoirs, made a note of Rose Bay Cottage. He said "Rose Bay and its one large low house, alone and its orderly grounds, crisp trim lawns and splashing fountain (is) where Sir Daniel Cooper once dispensed his generous hospitality'.[9] A photograph of his house in 1855 showing its isolation in Rose Bay and a close up picture of the fountain referred to is shown below.

Sir Daniel Cooper lived at Rose Bay Cottage while his new house was being built nearby called Woollahra House. The next resident appears to be Walter Lamb as a birth notice is in the Sydney Morning Herald in July 1860 for a son born at "Rose Bay Lodge" to the wife of Walter Lamb.[10] It is not certain how long Walter Lamb resided here but the Sands Directories show that Sir John Hay was in residence from 1866 until his death in 1892.

Rose Bay in 1855 showing Rose Bay Cottage almost alone and the fountain in the Grounds of Rose,
Bay Cottage 1855.

The residence of Sir John Hay[edit]

Sir John Hay, resident of Rose Bay Cottage between 1866 and 1892

Sir John Hay was born in 1816 in Scotland. In 1838 he married Mary Chalmers and soon after the couple sailed to Sydney. They settled in the Upper Murray and in partnership with his brother in law, James, became a very successful farmer. In 1856 he became a politician and represented several rural electorates in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales and was elected as Speaker in 1862. He moved from the Legislative Assembly to the Legislative Council in 1867.[11] When he became a politician in 1856 he lived in Sydney but it is not until 1866 that he is shown to be residing at Rose Bay Cottage in the Sands Directory.

Sir John Hay was a very keen gardener and may have further added to the garden at Rose Bay Cottage. He also owned some land not far from this house called "The Garden" which according to an advertisement was about 4 acres (1.6 ha) in size and was "laid out into gardens, ornamental grounds and on which is already erected a gardeners cottage."[12] Some of these grounds have been preserved in the present Overthorpe at Double Bay.

Sir John and Lady Hay did not have any children and when they both died in 1892 his property was inherited by the children of his brother James.

The Rougiers in residence at Rose Bay Cottage[edit]

The next resident of Rose Bay Cottage was Mrs Rosa Haigh. According to the Sands Directory she first came to Rose Bay Cottage in 1893. In 1895 she married Dr Emile Rougier who at that time was Director of the Pasteur Institute.[13]

The Rougiers liked to entertain and some of their social events are mentioned in the newspapers. For example, in July 1899 they held a luncheon for many notable guests including two Consul-Generals.[14] In 1902 they held a garden party in the grounds of Rose Bay Cottage. The Sydney Morning Herald reported the event as follows.

"The charming grounds of Rose Bay Lodge were quite en fete on Wednesday afternoon when Dr and Madame Rougier entertained a large number of guests at a garden party. Owing to the threatening aspect of the weather and the keen wind which was blowing, the guests were received in the drawing room and refreshments were served on the verandah, part of which was enclosed. The reception rooms were decorated with beautiful roses and lilac."[15]

Rosa Rougier died in July 1910 at her residence in Paris. She left most of her property to her children two of whom are named as her executors in her will. These are Victor Louis Bosker Haigh and Ruth Grace Ann Haigh (married name Friedricks).[16] Rose Bay Cottage was advertised for sale in February 1911. The ad contained a very detailed description of the house as follows.

"Rose Bay Lodge is situated in the centre of delightfully laid out grounds comprising an area of about seven acres and occupying one of the best positions in Rose Bay in close proximity to the tram and with extensive harbour views.
The house itself is a commodious one of pleasing elevation and most substantially constructed of brick and stone, cemented and painted slate roof, verandahs on three sides and balcony on one side and contains hall, double drawing-room, billiard-room, eight bedrooms, three bathrooms, kitchen, laundry and large cellarage accommodation. Stabling built of stone comprising coachhouse, four stalls, loose box, loft, harness room and man's room. Detached from the main building is a weatherboard cottage, verandah in front containing three rooms"[17]

The house was again put on the market later in the year. This time it was marketed as "Rose Bay Lodge Estate" which consisted of 37 allotments and the house which was to be sold separately on four allotments fronting Salisbury Road.[18]

Deterioration and restoration of the house[edit]

Rose Bay Cottage today, fully restored

The house was bought in 1912 by a woman who converted it into the Ritz Flats. Over the next 70 years, the building was added to unsympathetically so that by the 1980s it was completely unrecognisable. A story and picture in the Sydney Morning Herald illustrates this (online link is included in the reference).[19] In 1993, the house was bought by Peter Bracher; with his partner Jo and brother-in-law Peter Harris, he restored Rose Bay Cottage. They did this by using, as much as possible, the original materials which were still substantially included in the house.[20]


  1. ^ Heritage Council, "Salisbury Court" Online Reference
  2. ^ Heritage Council, "Salisbury Court"
  3. ^ Martin, A. W., "Cooper, Sir Daneil (1821-1902)", Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol 3, Melbourne University Press, 1969, p. 452.
  4. ^ Martin, A. W., p. 452.
  5. ^ Burke, Sir Gernard, 1891, "Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Colonial Gentry", E. A. Petherick and Co., p. 54.
  6. ^ Sydney Morning Herald 6 March 1848, p. 4.
  7. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, 27 August 1955, p. 8.
  8. ^ Martin, A. W., p. 452.
  9. ^ Grundy, F. H., 1879, "Pictures of the Past: Memories of Men I Have met and Places I Have Seen", p. 291.
  10. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, 21 July 1860, p. 10.
  11. ^ Martin, A. W., 1972, "Hay, Sir John (1816-1892)", Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol 4, Melbourne Uni Press, p. 361.
  12. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, 2 May 1892, p. 3.
  13. ^ The Sydney Mail, 3 August 1895, p. 220.
  14. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, 15 July 1899, p. 7.
  15. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, 18 October 1902, p. 7.
  16. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, 28 September 1910, p. 10.
  17. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, 11 February 1911, p. 23.
  18. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, 23 September 1911, p. 24.
  19. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, 10 August 1984, p. 5. Online reference,4946459
  20. ^ Gregory D., "Heritage Cottage Blooms After Loving Restoration", Sun Herald 30 October 2005.

Coordinates: 33°52′21″S 151°15′26″E / 33.8726°S 151.2571°E / -33.8726; 151.2571