Vaucluse House, a three storey castellated sandstone house, is the only surviving 19th century harbourside estate with house, stables, laundry and gardens intact. This magnificent house, set in ten of its original 206 hectares, is a most civilised place to take your afternoon tea. Houses and their owners have a tendency to reflect one another. Vaucluse House presents venerable Gothic Revival façades to Sydney Harbour but the mansion itself, built in fits and starts between 1805 and the early 1860s, is in a mixture of styles, is unresolved in terms of its layout and lacks the social grace of a formal entrance. Built by William Charles Wentworth (1790-1872), known as one of the early colonial statesmen, whose place in society was undermined by illegitimacy and convict associations. With the rising tide of Victorian morality his wife Sarah was shunned as lacking respectability and the family had to socialise outside of colonial society. Vaucluse House’s lack of cohesion is probably a result of Wentworth’s brooding anger at this slight and the house’s slow growth over decades. In contrast with the house, the grounds preserve a remarkably complete 19th century estate plan with stables, rural outbuildings, carriage drives, paddocks, lawns, a serene pleasure garden and recreated Victorian kitchen garden.
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