Woodstock

Manors on the Mary – Woodstock House

NESTLED under towering Norfolk and Bunya pine trees on the banks of the Mary River is a significant piece of Maryborough’s history.

Woodstock, the 160-year-old home now belonging to Maryborough businessman Rollo Nicholson, does not stand out as a grand manor when placed beside some of the other majestic mansions in the area.

Difficult to see from the river or its Lennox Street frontage, the home and surrounding gardens do, however, have an impressive history and its future looks bright.

Mr Nicholson said Woodstock was built in the mid-1850s by Mr J.E. Brown, a pioneer of commerce who was not interested in attending civic events but instead focused his attention to education and horticulture. Much of Maryborough State High School owes its beginnings to Mr Brown’s benevolence. He also built the Wharf Street building now occupied by the Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum.

Mr Brown’s home was once the centre of Maryborough’s social life and notable guests including the Earl of Normanby, Governor of Queensland 1871 – 1874 and his son, Lord Henry Phipps, slept between its walls.

Fraser Coast architect Marian Graham said the home was constructed using the ball room of another local mansion and it still had a formal dining room that was almost subterranean.

Over the years, Woodstock has been renovated numerous times in styles that haven’t been always been sympathetic to the original era but as architect Marian Graham points out, every renovation is part of its heritage.

When asked how long he had owned the home, Mr Nicholson’s replies: “Too long – my plans have been on the drawing board too long.”

About two years ago, his controversial plans to turn the historic home into nine units and a house was met with opposition from a few people who insisted such a development would destroy the significant piece of Maryborough’s heritage.

Mr Nicholson won the battle and his redevelopment is expected to be complete a year from now.

“It is not heritage-listed,” he said. “None of the outside walls are original and a lot of the original timber has rotted away.”

Indeed, the transformation promises to return the property to a “centre of social life” as it was in its heyday.

Mr Nicholson said a front section of the home would be demolished to make way for a new living room overlooking the river.

There will be a swimming pool in the back yard, between the home and the river where tennis courts used to be, and an entertainment section that he expects will be a popular meeting point for residents to socialise around the barbecue and games room.

 

 Turning back the clock

IF YOU turned back the clock 160 years while driving along Lennox Street, you would be driving through the wide entrance gates of Woodstock Estate.

The massive block of land belonging to Englishman J.E. Brown, one of Maryborough’s pioneers of commerce, stretched from the riverbank to John Street.

On it, in the mid-1850s, he built a cottage, the front gates of which were erected where Lennox Street now crosses the grounds.

A story in a 1941 edition of The Steering Wheel and Society and Home magazine, tells of Mr Brown adding a large living and reception rooms to his home after his marriage to Miss M. Portus.

It goes on to say the home was constructed of specially selected timbers including cedar.

In one wing was a billiard room that housed the first billiard table in the Wide Bay district, which attracted a lot of interest.

There was also a large reception room with the floor specially sprung for dancing.

The main section of the house included a large drawing-room, dining and children’s dining rooms, bedrooms and guest suites. Beneath this was a special cellar stocked with wines of rare vintage. Latticed verandas separated the staff quarters, pantries and huge kitchens.

The grounds of Woodstock were about 38 acres, of which 18 acres were used for grazing horses, ponies and cows.

Woodstock was the centre of social life, dating back to the mid-1800s with notable guests including the Earl of Normanby, Governor of Queensland 1871 – 1874 and his son, Lord Henry Phipps. Government officials were frequent guests of Mr Brown, who often put his yacht at their disposal for trips to Fraser Island.

Mr Brown was recognised for his love of horticulture.

A Sydney botanist, when importing trees and shrubs to Australia, sent choice specimens to Mr Brown and as a result, his property was filled with hibiscus shrubs, Bunya and Norfolk Island pines, jacarandas, magnolia and poinciana trees plus a cork tree from Spain. There were patches of maize, Lucerne, sorghum, banana palms and a vegetable garden. In the fields were plums, Bauple nuts and ornamental shade trees. Native companions (brolgas), emus and wallabies roamed freely.

Possession of the Woodstock property remained in the Brown family until 1911 when the extension of Lennox Street cut the grounds in halves.

Present owner Rollo Nicholson said a front section of the home was also removed when Lennox Street was built.

In the 1940s, what remained of old Woodstock home and about two acres of garden was returned to the possession of the family – Mr A. H. T. Brown, a grandson of the pioneer.

The property later passed to the family of Maryborough’s Dr Tom Dunn and more recently, businessman Rollo Nicholson.

 

 Originally published in the Fraser Coast Chronicle, June 2011.

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Ilfracombe

Manors on the Mary – Ilfracombe

Ilfracombe

A CURTAIN has drawn on the Hyne family’s ownership of Ilfracombe, one of Maryborough’s most prestigious  historic riverside homes.

After almost 80 years  in the Hyne family, the chamferboard timber home now has a new owner.

James Hyne, resource manager at Hyne Timber, recalled the many days he spent on the bull-nosed verandas chatting with family and friends or quietly contemplating the world as the muddy waters of the Mary River flowed past.

“My grandfather Lambert left the home to Dad and it became the family home about 1985,” James said.  “The most memorable day for me at Ilfracombe was the day I married Jodie on the front lawn.”

Beautifully positioned to host weddings, James’ uncle Chris Hyne and his wife Carol also chose Ilfracombe as their wedding venue.

They were married in the drawing room where the original anaglypta-lined vaulted ceiling still exists.

Over the years, Ilfracombe’s sweeping garden with its many large established trees has been the scene of many functions, the last of which was a garden party in May for this year’s Biggest Morning Tea in support of the cancer research.

Sadly, James’ mother Margaret succumbed to cancer just three months after his wedding in 2000. His father Warren died seven years later.

James said it was also sad the home was destined to be sold and would no longer be in the Hyne family.

“There are just a few minor renovations to be done and it’ll be ready for sale,” he said.

Over the years, rear sections of the home have been removed and replaced, and the kitchen extended.  Despite many internal renovations, many original features remain intact including the drawing room ceiling and a fire place with painted tiles.

James is the son of Warren and Margaret Hyne and great-great-grandson of Richard Matthews Hyne who established the iconic timber milling business in 1882.

 

 Ilfracombe history

CONCEALED from street views, the state-heritage-listed manor Ilfracombe overlooks the Mary River close to the heart of Maryborough.

Originally named Blairholme, the chamferboard timber home with corrugated iron gabled roof, which includes an attic, decorative finishes and large garden, is characteristic of the large timber homes built in Queensland in the late 19th century.

The historic river-side home is associated with prominent Maryborough families, the Wilsons and the Hynes.

Queensland Heritage Register archives show Ilfracombe was built between 1893 and 1895 as the residence of Margaret Blair and her four children following the death of her husband in 1893. Margaret was the sister-in-law of Andrew Heron Wilson on whose land the house was built, adjacent to his home, Doon Villa.

Mr Wilson arrived in Maryborough about 1866 and established Maryborough Sawmills before teaming with R. Hart and J. Bartholomew to build a larger sawmill for Wilson, Hart and Co. in 1881, where the Brolga Theatre now stands.

After Mr Wilson’s death in 1906, the land was transferred to the Queensland Trustees Limited but the Blair family stayed in the home until 1935 when the allotments were subdivided and sold.

Hugh Keys bought the land on which Ilfracombe stood and two years later the property was transferred to James Richard Lambert Hyne, a member of another prominent Maryborough timber milling family.

J.R.L. (Lambert) Hyne was the grandson of Richard Matthews Hyne, an English carpenter who founded the Hyne dynasty on the banks of the Mary River in 1882.

The Hyne family had a family home in Lennox Street called Ilfracombe and when they bought Blairholme the name was transferred from this earlier residence.

On the death of J.R.L. (Lambert) Hyne, the property was transferred to his son Warren Henry Hyne who lived in the home with his wife Margaret (pictured below) from about 1985 until their deaths in 2007 and 2000 respectively.

Ilfracombe

Contributed photo.

Originally published in the Fraser Coast Chronicle, June 18, 2011.
 
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