Monday, 3 September 2012

The House Built by the Man Who Saw Fisher's Ghost

The charming house "Denfield" was reported to be built by John Farley in 1837- the man who first saw Fisher's ghost in 1826. Farley, an emancipist, was transported for life arriving in the "Guildford" in 1812. Capable and industrious according to Reverend Thomas Reddall, he received a conditional pardon and as his farming prospered he added Denfield to his property in 1826. He settled down with his wife Margaret on their 325 acre farm on the Appin Road, south from Campbelltown.



John Farley's grave in St Peter's Anglican Cemetery. He died in 1841. (Verlie Fowler Collection).

In 1840 Farley sold Denfield to John Bray and it remained in the Bray family for many years. Bray was appointed magistrate in Campbelltown in 1852.

In 1866 Joshua Bray wrote from Denfield "They are very much excited about here, the Mail was robbed ten days ago....The night before last they stopped it about a quarter of a mile from this house- the coachman and passengers came about 4 o'clock in the morning to tell us. These robberies take place in the night...they were hiding all their jewellery. Papa has loaded his pistol".

The house was built of sandstone brick on stone footings with stone flagged verandahs. The kitchen was detached to reduce the risk of any kitchen fires spreading and was linked to the main house by an open "breezeway" with a flagged stone pathway.

Denfield was typical of the colonial homesteads of the time with a wide central hallway and bedrooms running off the hall and a lounge/sitting room with an open fireplace and marble mantlepiece.

The property passed from the Bray family about 1917, to people named Hickey, who leased it to the Carroll family. The house became derelict and was vacated in 1963. It was restored about a year later by the architect S.C. Palmer.

Like most old homesteads there is supposed to be a resident ghost that haunts Denfield's kitchen. A past female owner would never go to bed until her husband was ready to join her.

Today the surrounding housing estates hug the perimeters of Denfield. The original 320 acres of rolling hillsides with the picturesque views are now groaning under the pressure of urban sprawl.



Unidentified family on the verandah of "Denfield" taken on March 14, 1914. (Gately collection)

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