Glenleigh (Regentville, NSW)
Muloga Road, Regentville
This building is one of the most imposing in the Penrith area. The house and outbuildings stand on the hill between Penrith and Regentville and can be seen from all directions – especial from the Nepean River and Emu plains. Conversely there is a superb view of Penrith, Mulgoa and Emu Plains from the wide verandahs surrounding the upper floor of the house
“Glenleigh” was built in the early 1880s by James Ewan, a shipping merchant, businessman and philanthropist- as his “country residence”. He and his wife soon became very involved with life in Penrith. They gave freely of their time and money to many charitable causes. In particular the Ewans helped establish the Nepean Cottage Hospital (where the Governor Phillip Hospital is today). The first hospital (in present Cox Ave) was declared unsafe and rather than send all patients to Parramatta a temporary hospital was opened in High Street opposite the Police Station. It was supported by public subscription and money was raised to build the new Nepean Cottage Hospital. James Ewan gave generously to this cause.
The Ewans were benefactors and workers for the Presbyterian Church in Penrith. Mrs Ewan was President of the Women’s Guild for many years, and on her death a large sum of money was given to the Church to help pay for repairs and renovations. A large memorial to the Ewan family is seen in the church in Doonmore Street
“Glenleigh” house is distinctive because of the unusual bricks, which were brought from England in James Ewan’s ships as ballast. They are contrasted with red brick lintels. Timber verandahs and an imposing stone entry porch add to the fine exterior. The interior of the house is magnificent, and still in a very good state of repair. It is being lovingly restored by its present owners.
The most impressive detail in “Glenleigh” is the work on the ceilings. Two Italian artists were brought to Australia by James Ewan to create these masterpieces. Set into the stenciled flowers and goldleaf are medallions to suit the room – musicians and opera singers in the Music Room, writers in the Library, and fish, hare and birds in the Dining Room. The house is built in two wings. The western wing comprises the kitchen, laundry and servants’ quarters. Their wing is a little lower than that of the family. The kitchen still contains a set of bells for each room, so that the servants could see by the ringing which room required attention.
The servants were particularly well treated. Mrs Ewan personally cared for sick servants in a cottage she had built on the property. She called it “Hope Cottage” and it is said that often the cottage was occupied by sick servants from other properties, where they were not so well treated. She was endeared to all by her alleviation of sickness and suffering and her kindness to all.
Stained glass windows and doors, cedar work and cedar staircase, and beautiful marble fireplaces, give a feeling of luxury which James Ewan wanted to develop. He spared no expense in building the house and evidence of this can be seen in every room.
Fortunately for the history of the district and for “Glenleigh”, the present owners are keenly interested in the house as it was originally; In the family and in other occupants and in the outbuildings and gardens. They have re-built the gardens as they most probably were and the exterior gives the impression of the wealthy landowner of this baronial castle.
James Ewan was a well-known figure in Sydney, with his shipping companies and his interest in banking. He gave generously to the Sydney Hospital and the Benevolent Society. He died at “Glenleigh” in 1903, and his wife died in 1914.
Regent Villa (Regentville, NSW)
Mulgoa Road, Regentville
1814 Arrival of Sir John Jamison
1823 Laying of foundation stone of Regentville (Sydney Gazette 11 Sep1823)
1824 William Houghton’s description (ML BT Box 52 Vol 4 pp 1358-9)
“Sir John Jamison, who resides on his estate opposite Emu Plains, took me to see his new house. It stands on the top of a long, gentle ascent and is certainly a noble mansion. It is 78 feet long by 45 feet wide, two storeys high with a spacious cellar beneath. Each of the wings is 50 feet long. The out-buildings are detached and the whole premises will occupy about an acre of ground which is to be enclosed by a wall 14 feet high. It is built of fine durable stone and commands a very extensive and diversified prospect.”
1831 Vineyard established (Agricultural & Horticultural Society of NNSW Report 1839 p. 24)
1835 Conrad Martens sketches
1838 Maclehose/Wilson etching
1835-40 Tweed mill built (J. Watson Journal RAHS 1917 Vol 4 Pt. 3 p. 175)
A substantial brick building of four storeys, the ironbark girders being 36 feet long and pillars of the same as sound as the day – about ninety years ago – they were put in.
1844 Sir John died (Brian Fletcher Journal RAHS 1979 Vol 65 Pt 1, p.21)
1847 Auction Sale (SMH 16-21 Oct 1847)
A portion of the splendid estate of Regentville consisting of 1560 acres, about 600 of which are cleared and stumped, and about 150 under cultivation. Together with, the elegant family mansion house, garden, grounds, vineyards, etc. To be sold by auction by Mr. Lyons at his mart on Tuesday the 21st December……. The following valuable improvements have been made on the Hawkestone Grant; first, “Regentville House”, substantially built of stone with a tasteful Colonnade in front and on each side, surmounted with an Iron Balcony from which there is a delightful prospect of the adjacent country. It contains an Entrance Hall and 15 rooms, viz; 2 drawing rooms, 1 dining room, 1 breakfast room, 1 study, 1 library and cabinet, 9 bedrooms, the principal staircase is also stone built and circular. A wash-house and laundry are attached, and there are spacious cellars under the house. The right wing consists of an immense coach-house with store above; the left wing contains the billiard room. The out offices are also stone built, and consist of 2 kitchens and a bakehouse communicating with the house by a covered way, a servants’ hall and 7 bedrooms adjoining; the whole being under one roof. All the above offices are contained within an area of 180 feet square, enclosed by a substantial stone wall about 10 feet high. In the rear of the foregoining, adjoining the wall, are the handsome stone stables, which consists of one 10 – stall and one 4 – stall, with three large boxes and two harness rooms. The lofts are over the whole of the above stabling, and are about 160 feet in length by 15 feet breadth. the stable yard is enclosed by a paling, and contains also 3 loose boxes, slab-built, with loft over them. Adjoining the stable yard at the back lies the Garden, covering about 4 acres, full of choice fruit trees, vegetables, etc., and contains the gardener’s house. In the rear of the garden, a shed is partitioned off, and railed in to accommodate about thirty colts; it is well secured by a substantial fence, and has a paddock attached with contains stockyards and draughting yards. The Vineyard is on the left of the house, and contains about 7 acres of terraced vines, and 3 1/2 acres of field vineyard. It also has a stone built house, containing four rooms, a large cellar for manufacturing wine, with wine press and still. Immediately in from of the wine cellar there is a large dam, receiving the water from two gullies: is about 300 feet in circumference, by about 10 feet in depth, and has never been dry.”
1860’s? Thomas Woore sketch
Sydney Mail 29 May 1869: “Intelligence reached Parramatta on the 21st instant that a large fire occurred at Regentville, formerly the residence of the late Sir John Jamison. The fire broke out in the upper storey of the building (now known as Shiel’s Family Hotel)…….. The fire raged in the main building, which it completely gutted, leaving nothing but the bare walls standing. With the exception of a pianoforte and some few articles of furniture which were taken from the ground floor, everything within the house was entirely destroyed. No account can as yet be given on the origin of the fire. The roof was composed of shingles covered with iron. ….. None of the outbuildings were injured.”