Places

Memories of Your Suburb: Harrington Park

Captain William Campbell was granted land in 1815 and built Harrington Park homestead in 1827 named after the supply brig Harrington of which he was commander. The property was bought by Sir Warwick Fairfax in 1944 and an extensive garden created.

Gatehouse at Harrington Park, 1880s. Copyright: Camden Council Library Service.

Gatehouse at Harrington Park, 1880s. Copyright: Camden Council Library Service.

In 1990s a residential estate centred around a 15 hectare lake was developed and further stages of development continue.

Memories of Your Suburb: Kirkham

John Oxley the surveyor general of the colony was granted land in 1815 on the eastern bank of the Nepean which he called Kirkham after his home in Yorkshire. Only Kirkham Stables 1816 remain from this period. Oxley’s son built a flour mill on the estate which operated until rust destroyed wheat crops in 1863. In 1885 James White a later owner of the property built a Gothic Revival styled mansion named ‘Camelot’ by the subsequent owners, the Faithful-Anderson family.
In 1811 Rowland Hassall was granted 400 acres in a loop of the Nepean river, west of Kirkham which he named Macquarie Grove. Camden Airport now occupies much of this property and was used in the Second World War as a flight training centre.

Camelot, 1983. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

Camelot, 1983. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

Charles Cowpers’s residence Wivenhoe was built in 1838 and was sold in 1910 to the Catholic Church. It is now the site of Mater Dei School.
Kirkham railway station at the bottom of Kirkham lane was a stop on the Camden to Campbelltown tramway to pick up passengers and milk. Remnants of the embankments for the line can still be seen.

Interior view of stables at Camelot, Kirkham. c.1995. Copyright: Camden Council Library Service.

Interior view of stables at Camelot, Kirkham. c.1995. Copyright: Camden Council Library Service.

From the 1990s there has been large block residential development of some parts of Kirkham with a preservation of hilltops and flood prone low lying land.

Memories of Your Suburb: Camden

Camden is one of Australia’s most historic towns, enclosed on three sides by a sweeping bend in the Nepean River on land originally home to the first inhabitants, the Dharawal people. Camden and its surrounds were originally known as The Cowpastures after missing cattle from the Sydney colony were eventually found in the area.

Agriculture was key to the prosperity of the district, with the Macarthur family establishing wool growing, dairying, wheat growing, vineyards and orchards on John Macarthur’s original 5,000 acre land grant, from 1806 onwards. The village of Camden was created following sales of land by the Macarthurs in 1841. The Macarthur family became synonymous with Camden, being responsible for the construction and establishment of landmarks such as Camden Park house, St John’s Church, Macarthur and Onslow Parks.

John Street Camden, c.1890. (Copyright: Camden Historical Society)

John Street Camden, c.1890. Copyright: Camden Historical Society

The Macarthur family’s agricultural enterprises also provided employment for immigrant workers, who came to the area under Governor Burke’s 1835 plan as tenant farmers. Many later obtained their own landholdings and established businesses in the area. Descendants of these families remain in Camden today.

Originally part of Nepean Shire, The Municipality of Camden was proclaimed in 1889. Camden township contains many historic buildings which were established during the 19th century to provide services such as the police, Court House, churches, schools, banks and School of Arts (now Library and Museum). The present day town reflects the layout of its earlier establishment in the 1840s, and some of the shopfronts and facades remain from the early decades of the 20th century.

Aside from agriculture, industries such as mining provided employment for the inhabitants. Mines situated in the outlying areas provided coal and silver ore, which was shipped by rail once the tramway was established in 1882. One of the locomotives, affectionately known as ‘Pansy’, travelled on the branch-line from Campbelltown, and in the 1940s had 24 weekday services which were a mixture of goods and passenger services. The line ceased operation in 1963 and was replaced by road transport when coal trucks were a familiar sight in Camden. Today there exists a mix of rural, retail, and light industrial activities in Camden, with many residents now employed outside the local area.

From a population of 242 in 1846 the Camden Local Government area has dramatically increased to include a population of 51,000 in 2006. This expansion follows the State Government’s Growth Centre Plan from the 1970’s and continues with current government plans for increased urbanisation and expansion. The geography of Camden township, with the surrounding flood plain, has allowed the township to retain much of its historic form, with development being concentrated in non-flood prone areas.
(Information provided by Camden Historical Society, Camden Council Library Service and Camden Council Community Profile)

Oran Park: Raceway to Residential

Oran Park is one of the newest and most rapidly developing residential areas in the Camden LGA. But that does not mean it doesn’t have a long history. Featuring an extensive legacy as a raceway and possessing a fine example of colonial architecture, Oran Park is far from being the new kid on the block.

Oran Park House* was built some time before 1939 by John Douglas Campbell. The land was part of a land grant given to John Campbell’s uncle, William Douglas Campbell, called Harrington Park, itself also subdivided into a housing estate earlier this century.

Oran Park House. Copyright: Camden Council Library Service.

Oran Park House. Copyright: Camden Council Library Service.

The house, like many of its contemporaries including Camden Park House, was in a Georgian palladium style, featuring expansive vistas. Like other Macarthur Era homes of its kind, it was one of the domains of the “powerful colonial elite” (Ian Willis, quoted in Ward, 2011). However, unlike the continued residence of the Macarthur descendants in Camden Park House, Oran Park House was sold to the Moore family of Bagdally and Campbelltown. It would continue to move through several owners and uses, including a golf club, military camp and grenade firing range in WWII, until the estate was subdivided into small hobby farms in 1961.

The south-west and western part of the original estate was transformed into the raceway, built in 1962. The following year it opened and has since seen a great amount of racing from a variety of motor sports, including V8 Super Cars, Australian Touring Car Championships, Superbike World Championships, NASCAR and AUSCAR, and twice hosting the Australian Grand Prix. By the time of its closure it not only saw many kinds of notable races, but earned a reputation as one of the best circuits in the country (Bertola, 2007).

Prime mover truck motor race, c.1997. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

Prime mover truck motor race, c.1997. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

The estate’s latest transformation is into a residential area for the rapidly developing Camden LGA. The first residents moved into their new homes on the estate in 2011, and sales have been booming ever since (Stillitano, 2011; Georgopoulos, 2014). Oran Park Town has seen numerous community facilities emerge, from schools, churches, a retirement home, and the Podium retail complex and business Hub. Camden Council’s new Administration Building is being constructed, and a new library and community centre are in the final stages of planning.

Oran Park’s history, with its legacy of the raceway and colonial house, is set to be integrated into all of these new developments as it enters a new phase of its future.

References:

Bertola, V. (2007). Last lap closer for Oran Park. Camden Narellan Advertiser.

Georgopoulos, M. (2014). Sky-high sales for town. Macarthur Chronicle.

Stillitano, I. (2011). New town welcomes first residence. Camden Narellan Advertiser.

Ward, M. (2011). Domain of “powerful colonial elite.” Macarthur Chronicle.

* In 2015, the current owners of Oran Park House, Harrington Estate, renamed it Catherine Park House as part of the Catherine Park Estate development to the north of the house.

Ben Linden

Although the history of Narellan predates that of Camden, it has seen a great deal more development in recent years. But one strong reminder of its past is Ben Linden, a house built in 1919 and placed prominently on Camden Valley Way.

Originally built as a private residence by George Blackmore who lived in North Sydney with his wife Mary Ann and seven children. George was a builder and purchased the land with his youngest son, George Sydney Blackmore, who was a merchant. It is believed Ben Linden was a swan song, George retiring after it was built and residing in the property until his death in 1930. George Sydney lived on the other side of Camden Valley Way in the Narellan General Store, another of the original buildings of Narellan to still stand (Hill, 2008).

Narellan Store, in a very modern setting on the Camden Valley Way. Copyright: Camden Council Library Service.

Narellan Store, in a very modern setting on the Camden Valley Way. Copyright: Camden Council Library Service.

A little over a decade after being built Ben Linden began its life as a communal building. In the 1930s it was a boy’s college. In the 1940s it serviced a larger clientele after it became a guest house. It would spend the next two decades serving both the newly born and the elderly, first as a private maternity hospital in the 1950s until finally becoming a convalescent home in the 1960s (Stillitano, 2008; Meyers, 2008).

1997. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

Ben Linden in 1997. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

In 1977 the property was purchased by Neidra Hill. Hill has always been very active in learning more about the building. It was through her efforts that much of its early history was discovered in 2008 when she researched and wrote “Ben Linden 1919-2008: A house with a story to tell”. Bearing in mind the property’s long history of community engagement, Ms Hill sees herself more as a custodian of the house than the owner. This drives her desire to maintain the building, seeing it as a strong “legacy for future­ generations and as a refuge for those less fortunate” (Bertola, 2015). This is particularly fitting in light of the developments in the area. It is now one of the last remaining historic residences in Narellan.

The shifting identity of Ben Linden is a testament to the changes that have always occurred in the area, and it is fitting that it is now preserved for future generations as a unique specimen of a time past.

References:

Bertola, V. (2015). Historic home holds firm in tide of change. Macarthur Chronicle.

Hill, N. (2008). Ben Linden 1919-2008: A house with a story to tell. (Available in the Library’s Local Studies Vertical File).

Meyer, J. (2008). Home’s mysterious past. Camden Advertiser.

Stillitano, I. (2008). A house with many tales to tell. Camden Advertiser.

Hotels and Inns

The centre of a country town is often the local pub, and Camden has had many such establishments. They may conjure the image of farmers and labourers quenching the thirst of a day’s labour with a beer, but in country towns the pub is more than a watering hole.

In the early days of the colony when the land was still wild and undeveloped, many of these establishments would have been sly grog shops, unlicensed premises that catered to travellers. As land grants and townships developed, many of these became licensed, but to a large extent still served a similar function as accommodation and a spot for some recuperation before continuing a long and hard journey. As they became licensed and towns developed around them they began to serve as meeting places for community groups and locals as well as travellers. During the first two years of the town, one of the rooms in The Camden Inn even held court petty sessions, until the then licensee, Joseph Goodlucke, complained that it got in the way of the business (Wrigely, 2007).

The Plough and Harrow (at one point the Argyle Inn). Drivers taking part in a Rally (note the numbers on the cars). Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

The Plough and Harrow (at one point the Argyle Inn). Drivers taking part in a Rally (note the numbers on the cars). Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

They were, as would be expected, the site of some drama as well. The Camden Inn provides one of the best documented dramas of tavern history in the area. The second licensee, John Lakeman, was ‘a bloody big-headed bugger’ as described by one of his contemporaries. He had a clear disdain for any authority that wasn’t his own, having little respect for magistrates and police, choosing instead to administer his own ideals of ‘justice’. This lead to many quarrels with both customers and employees. He once nearly strangled a man for a ‘nobbler’ of whiskey, and immediately fired one of his employees, Margaret Little, after finding her under her bed with a half-dressed man (Atkinson, 1999). In 1855 the full extent of his nature was displayed, when he was involved in a notorious rape case and sentenced to serve his term in Cockatoo Island Prison in Sydney Harbour (Wrigley, 2007).

The Camden Inn, later renamed the Royal Hotel as pictured. 1940. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

The Camden Inn, later renamed the Royal Hotel as pictured. 1940. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

Many of the establishments that serviced Camden are still operational. But some have not survived the changing times. The Woolpack Inn, built in 1853, was located on the corner of Argyle and John Street. It was by all accounts a handsome building, and was only used as a Hotel and Inn  until 1868, when it was re-purposed as the Camden branch of the Bank of NSW (Oliveri, 2009). Like many pubs it hosted meetings for community groups, and one of the regular meetings was for The Southern Cross Masonic Centre. The building received a make over in 1882, the most notable feature being its striking entrance way. Unfortunately the building was demolished in 1936, with the only remaining part of the building being two pillars from the main entrance that were used as a gate at Camelot.

The Woolpack Inn after it had been converted to the Bank of NSW. c.1900. Copyright: Camden Council Library Service.

The Woolpack Inn after it had been converted to the Bank of NSW. c.1900. Copyright: Camden Council Library Service.

Of the inns that have survived many are now receiving make overs. Some of these include the Camden Valley Inn’s motel extension, the Plough and Harrow being renovated and returning to its original name from the Argyle Inn, as well as the Crown Hotel. With as many tales to tell as there are visitors, the hotels and inns of Camden will remain a centre for story telling and community for a very long time.

References:

Atkinson, A. ( 1999). Inns of the West. Back Then. The District Reporter.

Oliveri, R. (2009). The Woolpack Inn-a handsome building. Back Then. The District Reporter.

Wrigley, J. (2007). Inns and hotels-from rest spots to petty session courts. Back Then. The District Reporter.

Thompson, S. (2012). Watering hole’s revival. The Macarthur Chronicle.

The Testament of Beauty: Churches in Camden

Since the medieval times, a great deal of effort has been placed into the construction of churches. The result on one end are large, awe-inspiring cathedrals, such as St Mary’s located in Sydney. But on the other end of the scale are the local churches that serve communities. More modest in scale, they reveal the sublime in architecture. Like so many buildings from Camden’s past its churches are beautiful beacons against the breathtaking countryside.

St John’s Anglican Church Camden

St John's Anglican Church. Pictured around 1900 from Brought Street. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

St John’s Anglican Church. Pictured around 1900 from Broughton Street. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

One of the oldest, St John’s Anglican Church, was imagined and commissioned by the Macarthurs. John Macarthur had set aside a site for the church  but it was his sons James and William who put in the application to the governor to have it built. The state subsidized £1000 to the total build cost of £2500. The church was designed by Colonial Architect William Mortimer Lewis, although some of his designs, in particular the rendering of the walls, would be countered, leaving them plain brick to this day.

East window St. John's Camden. Memorial to James Macarthur. Inscription: 'Erected by his many friends and admirers. In memory of James Macarthur Esq of Camden who fell asleep on Easter day April 21 1867 in the 69th year of his age. Copyright: Camden Council Library Service.

East window St. John’s Camden. Memorial to James Macarthur. Inscription: ‘Erected by his many friends and admirers. In memory of James Macarthur Esq of Camden who fell asleep on Easter day April 21 1867 in the 69th year of his age. Copyright: Camden Council Library Service.

St Paul’s Catholic Church Camden

St Paul's Catholic Church, Camden. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

St Paul’s Catholic Church, Camden. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

The first Catholic Church to be built in Camden, St Paul’s became the centre for Catholic sacraments in 1845. Up until that point the Catholics of the Cowpastures gathered in the Cottage of the Galvin family in Elderslie. A new church was soon required due to an increase in the size of the congregation, and in 1859 the St Paul’s that still stands on John Street was built.

St Paul’s Anglican Church Cobbitty

View from graveyard on western side. Copyright: Camden Council Library Service.

View from graveyard on western side. Copyright: Camden Council Library Service.

The first church in Cobbitty was Heber Chapel built by Thomas Hassell of Denbigh in 1827. The site was expanded to include a cemetery. In the 1840s the current church, St Paul’s Anglican Church, was planned and built. Both the chapel and the church have been of great research value in their ability to provide details of 1820 and 1840s construction techniques.

St Thomas’ Anglican Church Narellan

St Thomas Church, Narellan. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

St Thomas Church, Narellan. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

St Thomas’ replaced the building that served as both a school and church that was built by 1839 by Bishop Broughton and serviced  the village of Narellan. St Thomas’ was designed by Edmond Blacket and his sons and was built in 1884. What makes it unique among churches in the area is its Victorian Gothic architecture, and has been compared to the ecclesiastical buildings of John Horbury Hunt.

St James Anglican Church Menangle

St James' Church, Menangle. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

St James’ Church, Menangle. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

Speaking of Hunt, some may see a similarity to another famous Camden building echoed in the turret and steeple of this striking example. St. James’s Church in Menangle was designed by noted architect John Horbury Hunt, who also designed the now famous Camelot.

With development being the main theme of so many buildings and sites in the Camden LGA, it is encouraging to remember these beautiful buildings and tranquil sites continue to serve the community as places of worship. They are not only striking buildings to look at, but provide places to reflect both on the beautiful past and the hopeful future.

Camden Park Gardens

Camden Park Estate is famous for the fine colonial house and the agricultural innovations that spread from the estate across Australia. But the diverse and impressive garden is also of historic significance. The youngest son of John and Elizabeth Macarthur, William Macarthur, was a keen botanist and horticulturalist and established an impressive formal garden around the house. Far from the pedigree of a merino flock or the homogeny of a wheat field, Macarthur’s garden abounded in rich botanical wonders.

Baron Charles von Hügel, amateur botanist and close friend of William, was perhaps the first to praise the garden in 1834. He claimed that he had “not seen its equal since I left my own garden” (Mills, 2006). He went on to claim that William was the only person in the colony with an interest in horticulture. Another early admirer was Ludwig Leichhardt, a German born explorer and botanist. He visited Camden Park in 1846 and complemented the Macarthurs on many aspects of the estate including praises for the garden. He asserted that “there is…no establishment equal to it in this colony” (Wrigley, 2009).

Portrait of Dr. Leichhardt, 1846, by William Romaine Govett. National Library of Australia. nla.pic-an4699386-s41

Portrait of Dr. Leichhardt, 1846, by William Romaine Govett. National Library of Australia. nla.pic-an4699386-s41

Unfortunately, the hard economic times of the 1840s meant that William was placed in the uncomfortable position to “either make the garden pay for itself or give it up” (Mills, 2006). However, this was only a small hurdle to greater botanic and economic prosperity. With word of his expertise and impressive collection spreading through the colony, William started receiving many requests for plants. He published a Catalogue of plants grown at Camden Park, which in its popularity would see four editions. The first edition went out in 1843 and in 1845 he made £150 profit just from this horticultural enterprise, which was a considerable sum in those times.

Sir William Macarthur. State Library of NSW. gpo1_12256

Sir William Macarthur. State Library of NSW. gpo1_12256

He acquired Leichhardt’s own collection, which added richly to the already impressive garden. Mills tells us that 2 specimens from that collection, a native bauhinia and a Queensland Bottle Tree, are still features of the garden. William’s interest did not just extend to breeding a variety of species, but also to hybrids, one of his most famous examples being Erythrina × bidwillii ‘Camdeni’ , a hybrid of Erythrina species. It was his botanical knowledge as displayed with his hybrids as well as the success of his nursery, that helped establish William Macarthur as one of the most active and influential horticulturalists of 19th century Australia.

A testament of skill. William Macarthur's hybrid. Erythrina × bidwillii 'Camdeni'

A testament of skill. William Macarthur’s hybrid. Erythrina × bidwillii ‘Camdeni’. Image in Public Domain.

The garden has experienced considerable interest in recent years. The tradition of growing has continued with Camden Park Nursery Group, who have taken strong measures to ensure the preservation of this historic garden. Their efforts have been recognised by NSW Government Heritage Volunteer Awards (Goldsworthy, 2012). For those whose interest in history and horticulture require less dirt under the fingernails, Hortus Camdenensis, established by Colin Mills, is a must see. The website catalogues over 3200 plants that would have been grown by William at Camden Park.

The garden at Camden Park Estate strongly establishes Camden as not only the birth place of agriculture in Australia, but as a place of horticultural and botanical influence. It reveals an eye to the beauty of the land that was held in conjunction with the agricultural progress for which it has become famous.

References:

Goldsworthy, T. (2012). Gardening Heroes. Macarthur Chronicle.

Mill, C. (2006). Macarthur’s botanical treasures. Back Then. The District Reporter.

Wrigley, J. (2009). Ludwig Leichhardt stayed at Camden Park. Back Then. The District Reporter.

History of Narellan

Narellan has a long history of over 200 years of white settlement starting before that of Camden. In the 1810s there were numerous land grants in the area by Governor Macquarie. Of particular significance was the grant to William Hovell in 1816, who named it “Narelling”, after which the town would be called. However, it was only in 1827  after much indecision from authorities that the township was established. John Macarthur of Camden Park was having similar disputes with the town of Camden, but his disputes would only be resolved after his death in 1834. Although starting development much earlier, by the time of Macarthur’s death, the Narellan “village had been laid out, but (was) not yet inhabited” (Marsh).

The Queen's Arms Hotel. One of the first public houses built in the 1840s. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

The Queen’s Arms Hotel. One of the first public houses built in the 1840s. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

Narellan was located on the Great South Road (now Camden Valley Way and Razorback Rd) and saw success as a trading area for those passing through what was an arterial road between Sydney and Melbourne. Numerous inns and sly grog shops (unlicensed hotels) opened near, but not in, the township, and these proved quite successful, the nearest competition being 21km away in Liverpool (Mylrea, 2008). As the area grew and became established many of these were refashioned into licensed establishments.

St Thomas Church.On of the churches built during the 1800s development of the Narellan area. Copright: Camden Historical Society.

St Thomas Church. On of the churches built during the 1800s development of the Narellan area. Copyright  Camden Historical Society.

It was in the 1840s that the town started growing, with houses built that eventually connected the townships of Camden and Narellan. A school was also established in 1839. It was overseen by Rev. Robert Forrest, and was used for church services on Sunday by Thomas Hassell of Denbigh. Land of the town was gradually sold off. An advertisement from May 1843 of 11 allotments only started seeing sales in December of that year (Mylrea, 2008). Numerous sites were established, including churches, schools, a cemetery as well as hotels and inns (Marsh).

Narellan Railway Station. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

Narellan Railway Station. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

Residential land gradually sold over the next few decades and into the 1900s. But after the intial development of the 1840s through 1870s, sales slowed again. When the railway line went through in 1882 Narellan station was built on the Pansy Tram line, that connected the many suburbs and townships of the Camden area.

Narellan Town Centre, before much of the development and growth that has occurred during the 2000s. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

Narellan Town Centre, before much of the development and growth that has occurred during the 2000s. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

In recent years the growth and development has been extensive, with Narellan becoming a centre for much retail and leisure activity in the area, including Narellan Town Centre shopping precinct, food outlets, a cinema and library. With the many new suburbs rising and developing, it is always worth remembering that many of these places have been here for a long time.

References:

Marsh, B. (N.D.). The Centenary of St Thomas. Anglican Church In Australia.

Mylrea, P.J. (2008). The Village of Narellan. The District Reporter.

Mylrea, P.J. (2011). Narellan–Two Centuries of Growth. The District Reporter.

Denbigh

Denbigh is something of an unsung landmark. Where Camden Park is linked with the history of Australian agriculture, and Camelot is the current star of A Place to Call Home, Denbigh has had a very intimate relationship with Camden’s history and is considered “one of the finest early colonial farmhouses in Australia, with important historical associations and an evocative atmosphere.”

Part of the Cobbity land grant between 1812 and 1819, Denbigh was allotted to Charles Hook. He, like all the grantees, had to clear and cultivate the land within 5 years. Between 1812 and 1819 Hook had between 3 and 9 convicts working the land. This was not necessarily an easy period with the 1814-1816 Cowpasture War in full effect and the land being well within the battlefields. But by 1819 Hook started building some form of residence, living first in Sydney and then in Macquarie Grove with Samuel Hassall, finally moving onto the property in 1820. The first buildings were defensive “siege-style” structures due to the Cowpasture Wars, but later he began constructing the main bungalow that still stands on the property. Like Camden Park House, it was based on a Georogian style, but ‘Denbigh’ was set lower with a simplified version of this English style, which suited it well to the Australian climate.

The front section was built by Charles Hook before 1826 and the two storey section by Thomas Hassall after he purchased Denbigh about 1826. Since renovated. Mrs Lesley McIntosh ( owner) standing on verandah. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

The main bungalow. The front section was built by Charles Hook before 1826 and the two storey section by Thomas Hassall after he purchased Denbigh about 1826. Since renovated. Mrs Lesley McIntosh (owner) standing on verandah. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

The property began to see considerable success and become self-sufficient. Livestock  increased with the notable addition of sheep, 400 of the 1,100 aces was cleared, and 60 acres was dedicated to growing the famous Camden wheat. Hook passed away in 1826, and the property was sold to Thomas Hassell the following year.

Hassell came from a family of churchmen, and his move to the area was due to his appointment as chaplain in the Cowpastures. Although already owning land in the area, ‘Denbigh’ offered many advancements over these other properties, both in agricultural terms and in its suitability as a parsonage. While Hook lived on the property only with his wife, never having children, and a handful of convicts, Hassell and his wife Anne had a growing family and undertook works to develop the property. These increased works called for more hands on the property, and Denbigh expanded from a self-sufficient farm to a scattered village, having everything from a blacksmith and carpenter to a shoemaker and schoolmaster.

From northern side showing the Hassall additions and the nineteenth century garden. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

From the northern side showing the Hassall additions and the nineteenth century garden. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

Hassell was considered a generous and benevolent landowner by many who came to work for him. Testament to this is that some would continue working on the property even after gaining their tickets of leave, some for as long as fifty years. The prosperity came to an end in the 1840s, largely due to factors within the colony as a whole. The end of transportation and the economic depression resulted in Thomas reducing his holdings, selling some of his properties and leasing considerable amounts of ‘Denbigh’. A further hit to the property came in the 1860s, when rust brought an end to the Camden wheat industry.

In 1868 Thomas Hassell passed away, and his wife Anne found a suitable lessee in Charles McIntosh, who would own the property eighteen years later, when Anne Hassell passed away in 1886. The McIntoshes continue to farm the land to the present day. The first generation with Charles saw the property develop from crop based agriculture to a greater reliance on livestock, in particular dairy cattle and breeding draught horses. It was a leading dairy farm for much of the 20th century, and also witnessed the mechanization of agriculture in Australia.

Jim at 2-3 years of age in a yard with cows at Denbigh, 1925. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

Jim  McIntosh at 2-3 years of age in a yard with cows at Denbigh, 1925. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

Denbigh is a unique property in the Camden Area, still maintaining many of its period features. Like the more famous Camden Park, it witnessed the changes and developments of the area. And with the current residents actively undertaking steps to conserve the property it remains a perfect, “intact example of a continuously functioning early farm complex.”