|CAMDEN HISTORIC PLACES
(These articles were written by Christine Robinson, January 2000 and last updated July 2012)
Camden has a unique place in Australia's History. The town is home to many heritage listed attractions which reflect its links with the early settlement of the colony. Most of the attractions can be found here.
A comprehensive Camden Heritage Walk Brochure produced by Camden Council can be picked up at the Museum or downloaded by clicking the link.
This was formerly the "Plough and Harrow" built as a single-storey Inn by Samuel Arnold c. 1850-51.
Samuel Arnold was brought to work at Camden Park by the Macarthurs in 1837. He arrived from Dorset with his wife and daughter.
In 1841 he established a wheelwright business on the corner of Hill and Argyle Street, later building the "Plough and Harrow" opposite in Argyle Street. Tenure was given to John Galvin who later bought the "Camden Inn" from the Lakemans in 1855.
The building's appearance has altered over the years but the old columns remaining along the footpath clearly indicate its early beginnings. It is still used for the purpose for which it was built.
Belgenny Farm "Birthplace of Australia's Agriculture" has the most historic group of farm buildings in the country.
The earliest building on this site c.1806 was a simple slab and bark hut, situated a few hundred yards north of the old Belgenny Cottage. The hut was there in 1810 when Governor Macquarie visited Elizabeth Macarthur.
Belgenny Cottage was built in several stages, the earliest dating 1820 from a design by Henry Kitchen. It is here that John Macarthur died in 1834.
The rear section was erected around 1920. Other buildings on this site are: the Dovecote, the pidgeons used to carry messages between Belgenny and Elizabeth Farm at Parramatta; Stables c.1820's; Engine Room c. 1901; Mill; Blacksmiths Shop c.1937 using some of the material from the original; Fuel Shed c. 1945, the most modern building on site; a Well, now covered, provided fresh water for the whole farm group; Slaughterhouse; Shearing Shed; Carpenters Shop; Pig-sties; Smokehouse; Granary c.1840's; Creamery c.1820's and Community Hall.
Belgenny was the home farm for the Camden Park Estate and it is here that the Macarthur flocks were brought. James and William Macarthur continued their parents' work, William, in particular, bringing to the Colony many new plants and trees. Orchards and vineyards were established with great success.
The descendants of the original Macarthur flocks are at Belgenny and the vineyard again produces wine. Belgenny remains a working farm.
Situated at 39 John Street this cottage is thought to be one of the oldest houses in Camden possibly dating from the late 1830's. The original builder is unknown.
Its side wall was once attached to the stables of "Macaria". The stables were demolished in 1973.
The cottage was at one time the home of Captain "Bill" Larkin a prominent auctioneer and long-time employee of Wm. Inglis and Sons. This colourful man was a member of the Camden Mounted Rifles, an Alderman and Mayor of Camden. He was the first Town Clerk of Picton. He was an excellent horseman.
Camden Court House
Camden Court House is built on land set aside for this purpose by James and William Macarthur at the time the town allotment plans were laid down. The brothers also offered 100 pounds towards the cost of building.
The first Clerk of the Bench in the area was James Pearson who was Clerk at Cawdor until his death on 13 July 1841.
A Court of Petty Sessions at Camden was established by Proclamation on 20 July 1841 after lengthy opposition from both Campbelltown and Picton who were requesting that the Cawdor Court be removed either to Campbelltown or Picton. Until that date the Court was still at Cawdor.
John Downes Wood, a nephew of Charles Cowper was appointed the first Clerk of Petty Sessions for Camden by Government Proclamation on 23 September 1841.
The first buildings on this site were a timber lock-up and Chief Constable's residence. The present building was commenced in 1855 and completed in 1857 with cells underneath and at the rear. The building was designed during William Weaver's term as Government Architect. A new lock-up was built to replace the old one between 1859-61.
When the new courthouse was completed the Clerk of the Bench was J.B. Martin, who retained this position for 35 years.
Camden Park House
The building and design of Camden Park House which preoccupied the mind of John Macarthur in the last years of his life was begun by his sons, James and William in 1832 and completed in 1835 a year after his death. He lived to see the realization of his architectural ideas.
Architect, John Verge, designed a mansion in the Palladian style with a central two-storey block with one-storey wings and extensions at each side. The interior detailing is particularly fine.
The house stands on 960 acres of the original 5,000 acres granted to John Macarthur in 1805. Macarthur descendants still occupy Camden Park House.
The family Burial Ground, carefully established over the decades, is located nearby and is the last resting-place of John Macarthur and his direct descendants.
Camden Police Station
Camden Police Barracks were built in 1878. Earlier the Police presence was maintained with a timber lock-up and adjoining residence (c.1844) for the Chief Constable on the site of the present courthouse.
The barracks are a good example of the police buildings for that period. The verandah was once enclosed but has been fully restored in recent times.
The building is no longer used as a Police Station since the new Local Area Command Police Station was opened at Narellan on Friday 12 August 2011.
Camden Post Office
The first Post Office in Camden was in part of a rented cottage which was located in Argyle Street next door to the Camden Inn on the corner of Argyle and Elizabeth Streets in 1841, the Post Office having recently been removed from Elderslie to Camden "at great inconvenience to the residents of Elderslie and Narellan". Mrs. E. Pearson was appointed postmistress.
The earliest information at hand about the Post Office appeared in the Camden News Paper.
The Postmaster of Elderslie was accused of stealing a letter and cheque in November 1838. "John George Pettingale, general dealer, and Robert Spencer, clerk, were indicted for stealing an order for £185 16s. 3d., the property of Charles Cowper. A second count laid it as the property of Launcelot Iredale." Pettingale and Spencer were subsequently cleared but Pettingdale subsequently sold his shop in May 1840 to Joseph Thompson, the shop being run by his sons Samuel and Henry. It appears that by 1840 Pettingale was no longer Post Master.
By 1848 Camden was part of a daily mail coach service from Sydney to Goulburn.
A Telegraph Office was opened in 1877 and in 1878 it was proposed to combine the two offices into a Government built building. Tenders were called and a post office on the present site was completed on 8 February 1882.
At that time it consisted of a 20 feet by 15 feet office, four rooms, a servants room and a kitchen. Additional improvements including a second story of the residence and a balcony above the public area were approved in 1897.
Postal business was conducted in rented premises until their completion on 20 September 1898.
(Extracted from official post office history. Courtesy Bruce Bennedick, who's father Arthur Edward "Ben" Bennedick was Post Master at Camden 1958-1971.)
Camden Sale Yard
William Inglis established the firm of Wm. Inglis and Sons Stock Auctioneers in 1867 in Sydney.
Born at Heriot Cottage, Sussex Street, Sydney in 1833, he was the eldest son of Thomas and Catherine (Ross) Inglis who sailed for the Colony of NSW in 1829 from Scotland.
Governor Bourke granted Thomas Inglis land west of Camden in 1831. He named this property "Craigend". A good portion of this original grant is still owned and operated by the Inglis family. William Inglis made his son J.T. Inglis a partner when the lad was only seventeen. J.T. went on to further develop Wm. Inglis and Sons and became well known as an expert in the horse industry.
This firm has been doing business in the Camden area since its inception, at one time using the saleyard that was located behind the Plough and Harrow Inn.
Having maintained a long-standing presence in the Camden Area, Wm. Inglis and Sons established a branch in Camden in the 1930's. The Inglis family has been and continues to be a presence in the community of Camden, including a strong involvement in the Camden Show.
Descendants of the first William Inglis, William "Dick" Inglis and his sons, still conduct business for the firm of Wm. Inglis and Sons at their premises in Edward Street Camden next to the saleyard.
Monday evenings in Camden can still bring back the sounds of days gone by when cattle in the saleyard can be heard for kilometers around.
"Camelot" stands on the site of explorer John Oxley's Kirkham Mill. The original grant was made in 1810 and extended in 1815.
John Horbury Hunt designed Camelot for James White of Cranebrook in the late 1880's. It is constructed from brick and has a romantic silhouette of turrets, chimney stacks, gables, arched verandahs and projecting bays.
"Camelot" was reportedly built with the winnings from "Chester", a racehorse which won the Melbourne Cup in 1877, owned by James White.
The house was owned later on by the Faithfull-Anderson family. Upon her husband's death in 1912 Mrs. Frances Faithfull-Anderson paid for the erection of a memorial drinking fountain in the middle of the intersection of Argyle and John St. The fountain was subsequently moved to Macarthur Park where it now rests. A smaller matching memorial was erected at Camelot at the same time.
Camelot also has a fine brick stable with arched wooden ribbing, a brick smokehouse and an octagonal aviary. Today it is being lovingly cared for and will possibly be open to the public on a limited basis in the future.
Carrington Centennial Hospital for Convalescents, the first of its kind in NSW, was officially opened on 20th August 1890.
The hospital owes its existence to the generosity of Mr. William Henry Paling (Palings Music Stores) a Dutchman who arrived in Sydney in 1853. Mr. Paling gave his farm "Grasmere" together with 10,000 pounds as a Centennial gift to the people of NSW.
The hospital is named after Lord Carrington who was Governor of NSW at the time of the Colony's Centenary (1788-1888). The Architect for the project was Harry C. Kent.
There were several cottages in this complex; Grasmere Cottage (used for the treatment of children in the early years), Redman Cottage and the Freemasons Cottage. Alpha Cottage (no longer standing) was used to house patients prior to the building of the hospital. It is thought to have been situated on the opposite side of the road from the hospital.
Today Carrington is a blend of the old and the new providing accommodation for older persons consisting of a Nursing Home, Day Centre, Paling Court Hostel, Mary MacKillop Hostel and Self-care Units.
The land on which Cawdor Uniting Church stands was once part of the Macarthur estates.
As early as 1804 there was a slab hut on this site for the use of the Government Herdsman, whose job it was to watch over the Colony's herd of wild cattle. The herd had built up from the few cattle that had strayed in 1788 and were discovered in 1795 by a party led by Governor Hunter.
In 1819 a house was built for the stock superintendent with room to accommodate Governor Macquarie on his southbound journeys. The site of this house was in front of and to the left of the present church.
The first church was built here in 1850 with the first burials in the cemetery taking place c.1853. The church as it appears today is the result of rebuilding the original church and dates c.1880.
In 1855 the Cawdor Wesleyan Trust received 1 acre 19 perches from James and William Macarthur.
The church is still in use and the cemetery is the resting-place for many early settlers and their descendants.
Situated on the corner of John and Argyle St. Camden this building is a fine example of late nineteenth century bank building. It was designed by G.A. Mansfield and built in 1877.
A one-storey extension was added in the 1970's and has followed the style and detailing of the original building. The architects were Laurie and Heath.
Having a fine stone entrance porch and cast iron verandahs this building is still used for the purpose of banking as per its original design.
The first Manager of the C.B.C. Bank in 1877 was Mr. R. King.
Dr. Crookston's House
The Macarthurs built this two-storey brick house c.1860 for one of their overseers Mr. Druitt. Robert Henry Druitt died in 1899 at age 49 having been gored by a bull at "Camden Park".
The two-storey house is built in the style of St. John's Rectory with a verandah on two sides and a one-storey kitchen wing at the rear.
Dr. R. B. Crookston lived and conducted his medical practice here from 1913. Dr. Crookston was Government Medical Officer, Alderman of Camden Municipal Council and Mayor of Camden from 1932-1934.
Heavily involved in the local community, Dr. Crookston was awarded the O.B.E. in 1975 for services to the community and to medicine.
Originally named "Buckingham" the property now "Gledswood" was a grant of 400 acres made to Gabriel Louis Marie Huon de Kerillian in 1810. De Kerillian was a French nobleman who fled the Revolution and joined the N.S.W. Corps as Gabriel Lewis, arriving on the "Surprise" in 1794. He was at one time a tutor to John Macarthur's sons.
De Kerillian was issued with 8 convicts who constructed a residence on the property. This first building later became the kitchen for the homestead. The second building was a coach house and the third a cottage for the convicts in which they were chained at night. These buildings still stand and are distinguished from later buildings because they are made from local sandstone.
In 1816 the property was sold to James Chisholm for 250 pounds. Convict labour was also used to build the Homestead. There is no record of the Architect or completion date. Conjecture puts the date at c.1829, the time of Chisholm's marriage to Elizabeth Kinghorne.
Extensions and renovations were last done in the 1860's. Chisholms and their descendants lived at "Gledswood" for approx. 120 years.
There are close ties to the Macarthur family through marriages and wine growing. There is a story that James Chisholm was bailed up by Jack Donahoe the "Wild Colonial Boy" but was allowed to proceed on his way because he was good to his convicts "of which I was once one".
The locality known as Glenmore forms part of two separate grants made to Robert Johnston in 1833 and Hannibal Macarthur in 1834.
Johnston's grant was purchased by Edward Moore in 1851 (Glendiver Estate). He divided the property into three portions that were sold to three of his sons, James, Robert and Joseph, in 1856.
James Moore continued to call his portion "Glendiver" while Robert and Joseph came to refer to their properties, and the locality, as Glenmore. The brothers purchased 1400 acres of the Macarthur grant, selling 1000 acres to their father, Edward, in 1862. They had earlier sold 400 acres to E. Whybrow and J. Rhuan.
Joseph Moore's Glenmore House began as a simple settler's hut of ironbark slabs c.1828. The sandstone cottage was built c.1840 and linked to the hut by a covered walkway. Now owned by the Robertsons is has been restored to its present state.
Robert Moore established a store in part of his house, servicing settlers as far away as Burragorang.
The stone set over the porch of Glenmore Church gives the date of 1860. The church was begun in 1859 on land given by Joseph Moore. James Rogers of Picton was given the contract to build and local builder, Mr. Stokes, carried out the work. Elizabeth Moore, wife of Edward, laid the foundation stone. The first service was held on 19th March 1860. The cemetery alongside the church contains the headstones and memorials of the areas early pioneers.
There is a stone house to the east of the church, built in 1869 as a schoolhouse and used for this purpose until 1911. Miss Lewis was the schoolteacher. The house was later the first Glenmore Post Office with Mrs. Lewis as postmistress.
John Oxley Cottage
John Oxley Cottage is built on land that was originally part of the grant made by Governor Lachlan Macquarie to John Oxley, 1000 acres in 1815 - Kirkham and 850 acres in 1816 - Ellerslie.
No record has been found of its original builder but it is a typical "workman's cottage" thought to have been built in the 1890's as part of a row of similar cottages along the road into Camden.
The cottage is built from bricks most likely to have been made at the brick works in the town of Camden. The original roof of wooden shingles can be seen under the eaves of the back verandah. There were separate outbuildings located beside a brick well.
It is believed that the cost of connecting electricity to the cottage was paid for by Miss Faithfull-Anderson of "Camelot", known for her generosity done quietly and without public attention.
The house was known for some time as "Curry's Cottage" and was once owned by the Curry family (although not the main farmhouse) after whom the adjoining reserve is named.
Today this lovely cottage is home to Camden Visitor Information Centre.
Built on Naval Officer, Surveyor-General and Explorer John Oxley's grant of 1815, which he called "Kirkham" after his birthplace in Yorkshire, the stables are all that remain of Oxley's original country estate.
The date 1816 is inscribed on the wall of the stables and this is commonly thought to be the year of completion. The original residence was across the road and "Camelot" now stands where Oxley built his mill.
The stables are made from rendered brick and have two storeys. It has been consistently used as stables through the years.
The grounds contain a memorial to John Oxley in the form of an anchor and nearby is the grave of "Chester", the prize-winning horse owned by James White of "Camelot".
When John Oxley died in 1828 his family retained the estate and both of his sons went on to represent Camden in the N.S.W. Parliament.
Henry Thompson built "Macaria" in 1859-60 for the purpose of a school for teacher William Gordon, who was under his patronage, Thompson having several school-age sons. The school did not eventuate, Gordon moving instead from Camden to "Macquarie Grove".
Henry Thompson and his brother Samuel came to Camden as independent investors, setting up a general store and steam flour mill next to one another. They prospered being the middlemen for the local farmers.
The next two owners of "Macaria" were the Milfords, father then daughter. It later became Camden Grammar School and eventually was bought by Camden Council and is used as offices for the Mayor and Town Clerk.
"Macaria" has had a sad history with previous owners dying in tragic circumstances and is reputedly haunted.
Built in the picturesque style, "Macaria" has gabled windows, high chimneys, and stone trims with wooden porch and verandah.
Mrs. Elizabeth Macarthur-Onslow, a granddaughter of John Macarthur, gifted the tranquil oasis of Macarthur Park to the people of Camden in 1905. It is named Macarthur Park in honour of Elizabeth's father James Macarthur.
The park's original area was 6 acres. Camden Council holds the land in trust for the people of Camden in perpetuity, on the condition the land remains a public park.
Two palm trees planted at the official opening on 10th October 1906, at which Mrs. Macarthur-Onslow officiated, can be seen on either side of the main entrance in Menangle Road.
The park is home to Camden's War Memorial and the Faithfull-Anderson Fountain which once stood, where the roundabout is now, at the intersection of John and Argyle St. The Park is well know for its Heritage Rose Garden.
In 1905 Camden was a rural village and the land for the park was at the perimeter of residential blocks. The forethought used in donating the park has ensured the people of Camden can still enjoy the rural atmosphere of the past that the park engenders.
Situated at No. 1 Mitchell Street, Camden, Nepean House has both a colonial and picturesque appearance. James and William Macarthur sold this 83' x 83' corner block to James Bensley, a prominent Camden citizen, in 1855 for 75 pounds.
It is thought the house was built between 1855 and 1859. In 1862 the property was sold to Surgeon John Bleeck from Melbourne for 83 pounds. Dr. Bleeck lived and worked in Camden for over 20 years. The Packenham family lived there from 1884-1944.
The house has small gabled windows on the first floor. Both the roof and window gables have decorative bargeboards. The cast iron railings on the verandah are a later addition.
Since the beginning of settlement the Nepean River has been a vital part of this areas history, development and recreation. The river was the boundary for the infant colony.
Once the wild cattle were discovered at the Cowpastures two constables were stationed in a hut c.1805 (the earliest known building) on the eastern side of the river at Elderslie, upstream from the present Cowpasture Bridge, to protect the Colony's Herd.
The first bridge opened in 1827 was designed by a convict named Wainwright. The opening of the country to the west of the Nepean River for settlement followed. The bridge formed part of the Great South Road (Hume Highway) and anyone who wished to cross had to pay a toll and on Sundays was forbidden to cross at all.
Several bridges have preceded the present one which was opened in 1976. Until the long Macarthur Bridge was opened, upstream from the Cowpasture Bridge, in 1973, Camden became isolated whenever the river was in flood.
Apart from the obvious agricultural benefits, as the town of Camden developed, the river became a focal point for social gatherings along its banks with regattas, fishing and swimming in its waters.
Today, the Camden Cycleway follows the river from near Cowpasture Bridge to Elizabeth Macarthur Road near Belgenny Farm. Along this route are several scenic picnic and rest areas.
St. John's Church
Camden's most visible landmark set on the hill in Menangle Road overlooking the town of Camden with its spire visible for many miles around is built on land donated by the Macarthurs.
Bishop Broughton laid the foundation stone in 1840. The design is attributed to Colonial Architect Mortimer Lewis, the building contractor being Richard Basden. The 386,000 bricks used were made by James Lacey from clay from Mr. Davies' property. The stone was quarried at "Denbigh" and laid by Buchan. The brickwork was done by Richard Basden and the timberwork by Jonathan Wheeler. Craftsman Le Fevre used locally cut shingles for the roof.
The consecration of the Church took place on 7th June 1849. The first Rector of the Parish was Reverend Dr. Forrest 1839-1848. The East Window in the chancel completed in 1872 is dedicated to the memory of James Macarthur who died in 1867.
The Rectory, which adjoins church grounds in Menangle Road, was built in 1859 on land given for the purpose by the Macarthurs. The builder was Richard Basden.
This two-storeyed building has small-paned windows and timber shutters. The front verandah facing East across the Nepean River to Elderslie was removed about twenty years ago and replaced with a portico.
St. Paul's Camden
James and William Macarthur gave the site for this church and from c.1845 a small brick Church stood here, built by Father Gould, and was part of Campbelltown Parish.
The first Mass in the area was celebrated by Father Therry in Thomas Galvin's Cottage, Elderslie, in the early 1820's.
In February 1859 with 800 people in attendance, Bishop Polding laid the foundation stone for a more substantial building beside the smaller one. It was consecrated the following November.
From 1860 Camden had its own Catholic Parish with Father Jerome Keating as Parish Priest followed by Father John Ridney.
William Munro designed the Church and the builder was J.B. Elphinstone. The smaller Church became Mrs. James' home and schoolhouse. This was demolished in 1901 and a new school built on the site in the early eighties.
In later years it became apparent with the fast growth of the Macarthur area that a new church was needed. The new and larger church and presbytery were built in 1987.
St. Paul's Cobbity
The Reverend Thomas Hassall, the first chaplain of the Cowpastures, built Heber Chapel in 1827.
Heber was dedicated in 1828 by Thomas Hassall "the Galloping Parson" and his father-in-law the Reverend Samuel Marsden. It is named after Bishop Heber of Calcutta whose Diocese encompassed Australia. The architect is unknown. The Chapel contains the original chancel niche and cedar joinery.
Thomas Hassall remained Rector until his death in 1868. Thomas' brother Samuel died in 1830 and his is the first vault in the churchyard.
The foundation stone for St. Paul's Church was laid in 1840 and the Church was completed in 1842.
The Church is built of stone and was designed by Colonial Architect John Verge and John Bibb. It is of a cruciform plan with a tower and stone spire.
The Chapel and Church are situated in a peaceful and picturesque setting with a mixture of trees and stone monuments in the Churchyard.
When Reverend Thomas Hassall (Rector of St. Paul's) died in 1868, "Denbigh" was no longer available as a Rectory (Thomas Hassall and family lived here until his death). It then became necessary for St. Paul's to have its own Rectory. The Rectory was built in 1870, the Architect being G.A. Mansfield.
It is a two-storeyed stone building with a steeply pitched slate roof in which dormer windows are set. The inside joinery is cedar. The small verandah on the northeast side was added in 1882.
Studley Park House
Present day Studley Park was originally two properties. The first grant was to William Parrott on 1st Jan. 1810. William arrived in the Colony as a convict in 1791 and by 1807 was working as a shoemaker at Camden Park.
The second grant was to John Condron on 25th Aug. 1812. John was transported from Ireland arriving in the Colony in 1800 and by 1806 was employed at Camden Park as a herdsman.
Both properties changed hands several times over the years and in 1888 the combined properties were sold to William Charles Payne who commissioned the building of Studley Park House.
Built in the High Victorian style it was also known as "Payne's Folly". Payne sold the house to its architect, Francis Buckle, in 1891 and Buckle sold it in 1902 to Dr. Henry Oliver.
Studley Park House became Camden Grammar School until 1933 when the property was sold to Arthur Gregory, a Hollywood movie mogul. Gregory, a keen golfer, commissioned the construction of a nine-hole golf course, later adding another nine holes.
At the start of WW2 the Dept. of Defense took over the property. In 1951 the first intake of the newly formed Women's Royal Australian Army Corps began training at Studley Park House.
Today Camden Golf Club owns and is restoring this lovely house. It is open to the public during the year on specially planned Open Days and for functions to raise money for restoration.
Charles Cowper built "Wivenhoe" on the 600 acres granted to his father Rev. William Cowper in 1812. It was named after his wife's (Eliza Sutton) home in England.
Charles Cowper was one of the three original Camden Magistrates and in 1840 was one of the chief promoters for the building of St. Paul's Church, Cobbitty. Sir Charles later became the Member for Cumberland in the Legislative Council and Premier of N.S.W.
The house was completed in 1838 and its design has been attributed to Colonial Architect John Verge. The lofty stone-flagged entrance hall behind a classical portico, stuccoed stone walls and windows of generous proportions characterizes the house. It has been added to and extended over the years and has stables, an enclosed courtyard, coach house and servants quarters.
By 1873 "Wivenhoe" had been increased in area to approx. 950 acres and had an extensive vineyard and beautifully landscaped grounds. The property was purchased at this time by H.A. Thomas and remained in the family until the death of his widow in 1903 when it passed to Captain Oswald Watt.
In 1910 it was sold by Captain Oswald Watt to the Catholic Church for 7000 pounds and became Mater Dei Orphanage.
Today the stables are used as an art and craft gallery and the house is used for receptions, balls and a B&B.