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The Mansion Adelaide Hills 1969 | by expom2uk
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The Mansion Adelaide Hills 1969



Development of the property began in the 1850s when each of the sections which now make up the property, were owned by different individuals. It is believed that many of the poplars, elms and pines along Cox’s Creek that flows through the property were planted by these owners before the turn of the century.

In 1904 Tillie Comthwaite Wollaston bought a section of the property with the idea of living their when he retired, and he began planting to create a plant like setting for his future house. He purchased another section in 1911 and then the adjacent surrounding land as it came on the market.

In 1925-26 T. C. Wollaston established a nursery which he named Ray Nursery in memory of his eldest son who had been killed in the war. The surrounding area became known as Raywood.

At about this time, T.C Wollaston purchased a batch of Ash from Sewell’s Nursery (now Kemps) at Aldgate and noticed one had quite distinct foliage. This plant was planted in the collection at Raywood, and has become known as the “Claret Ash”, Fraxinus raywood.

Tullie Wollaston became an opal dealer in the late 1880s and helped to popularize the stone on the world’s gem markets during his numerous trips overseas. In 1924 he arranged a magnificent display of Australian opal at the Wembley exhibition, London.

Tullie Wollaston died on the 17th July 1931. During his lifetime, he wrote three books. These were ‘Our Wattles’(1915) , ‘The Spirit of the Child’(1924) and Opal : The Gem of the Never- Never (1924).He also published 2 pamphlets, one on the liquor trade and one against the stigma attached to unmarried mothers while those who fathered the children went free.

In February 1923 Alexander Russell Downer purchased the property from the estate of T.C.Wollaston. Downer took up residence in the cottage on the property and selected a site for a house below the brow of the hill amid the trees planted by T.C.Wollaston, and constructed a drive from the existing cottage up to the site for the house past the Blue Spruce and Blue Cedar planted on the side of the hill.

A.R.Downer returned to Adelaide from England with the concept of his ideal house based on the Georgian country houses of England, and commissioned architect Kenneth Milne to make this concept realty . Construction of the house from Basket Range sandstone with a roof of Willing slate, began in September 1934 and was completed in August 1935. The property was named Arbury Park after Arbury Hall near Nuneaton in Warwickshire, the seat of the Newdigate family , who are friends of A.R.Downer.

The garden was planned and laid out by A.R. Downer, first development being a series terraces to the lower level. In 1936 flights of steps were constructed leading from the portico of the house down to the lower level where a circular pool was made

During the 1930s Liquidamber, Lime and Cypress trees were planted in the lower garden to supplement the many fine specimens of Golden Deodar Cedar, Claret Ash and Copper Beech, planted byT.C.Wollaston and incorporated into the garden design by A.R.Downer

In later years, a pool in the southern part of the garden was enlarged and a small weir was constructed in Cox’s Creek to create a water meadow. Beyond the water meadow in an old orchard, a deer park was established with 30 deer.

In 1955 a small chapel was erected near the entrance to the deer park in memory of Mrs. D’arcy Addison ( formerly Lady Downer), and the surrounding slopes planted with Rhododendrons.

Sir Alexander Russell Downer K. B. E. was a Member of the House of Representatives for Angas in South Australia from 1949 until 1964 and was Australian High Commissioner in the United Kingdom from 1964 to 1972.

In 1964, the route for the South Eastern Freeway was selected from several alternatives. This carved through the water meadow and Deer Park. The Government purchased the property in 1964 and transferred it to the education department in 1965 for development as a residential in-service training centre for teachers, first of its kind in Australia.

Info Courtesy of South Australian Heritage.

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Taken on May 12, 2010