Wednesday 29 May 2024

If I were a rich man

If I were a rich man...I'd buy Macquarie Field House! This brilliant old house and property recently went on the market and is expected to fetch a price of $10-12 million dollars. Still a while to wait for the inheritance, so better make sure I get myself a ticket for the next lotto draw! 

There is so much history in this 65-acre property. Macquarie Field House was built in 1840 and has an interesting history. It was built by Samuel Terry for Sydney's first mayor John Hosking and is acknowledged as one of the finest examples of early Australian domestic architecture. It is built in the regency style. In 1858, George Fairfowl Macarthur leased the property to St Marks Collegiate School for boys. In 1868 the school amalgamated with the Kings School at Parramatta with most of Macarthur's pupils moving to this prestigious school. It was later owned by J. Ashcroft and then the Ross brothers, then by a syndicate of Kershaw and Hipsley. In 1944 the Department of Agriculture acquired the property. The house had come to the attention of the National Trust after it became severely dilapidated- a melancholy ruin that seemed destined for demolition. David Jamieson purchased the property in 1963 and thankfully restored it to its former splendour.

The house around 1960 before restoration

The house was later classified by the National Trust and a Conservation Order was placed on it in the early 1980s. After David Jamieson, the house was owned by the Department of Public Works and then a number of private owners.

Built before Macquarie Field House and located to the west of the house was the building known as Meehan's Castle. Named by Governor Macquarie, it was built by James Meehan on his Macquarie Field grant. It was a large two storey brick building with a barn-like appearance that Meehan built before 1820. It was demolished and gone by the 1950s and sadly hardly any trace remains.

Another early brick building of eleven rooms also once existed on the property. This was probably the cottage for Meehan to live in. An eight-stall stable and out houses could also be found.

Although still privately owned, the house has not been lived in since it was last sold in 2015. Today the site is on the State Heritage Register, meaning any proposed development is subject to strict controls designed to maintain the strict heritage significance of not only the house itself, but also its "intact 19th century rural cultural landscape". Given this heritage protection, it is likely to appeal to private buyers rather than developers. Better start getting friendly with that rich great aunt.

Macquarie Field House in the 1980s

The property today surrounded by modern suburbia (

Written by Andrew Allen

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