Mount Wilga House

2A Manor Road (Rosamond Street), Hornsby, NSW
National Heritage Listed

Table of Contents


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A Federation mansion and garden prominently sited in large grounds on the apex of a long ridge with commanding views
of the surrounding countryside, including across the valley to ‘neighbouring’ mansion Mount Errington.

Photograph of Mount Wilga under construction
Photograph of Mount Wilga under construction
Mount Wilga House
Mount Wilga House
 Mt Errington Hornsby
Mt Errington Hornsby
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An Outstanding late Federation Queen Anne Style mansion.

  • Impressive multi-level roof with highly decorated gables.
  • Unusual verandah detailing.
  • Generally in good condition. Many interior features of note.
  • Owned by Marcus Clark leading Sydney retailer of the time. (LEP).
  • Grounds: Remnant garden layout surrounding notable mansion. Mature period trees dated from Federation period. Of regional significance. (LEP).
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A Federation mansion constructed over the years 1913-1914, with face brick walls, complex steep pitched terracotta tiled roof, tall roughcast chimneys, shingled and half-timbered gables, sandstone veranda piers with simple scalloped timber valences. Unusual cylindrical polished granite colonettes support the timber veranda posts.

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The residence is a single storey with a basement and three-storey tower at the roof apex. Original casement windows include projecting bays with leadlight and sculpted sandstone sills. Original doors and other joinery remains. Much of the original interior survives. The residence is prominently sited in large grounds with a number of large trees and a stone gateway (LEP)

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In 1907, Sir Henry Marcus Clark, a renowned businessman purchased 212 acres of land on the Hornsby Plateau, reputed to be the highest point in the Sydney metropolitan area.

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  • Over a few years he designed and commenced building the manor house, on the land that is adjacent to where Mt Wilga Private Hospital is currently located. The land and house have heritage significance to the Hornsby Shire and both are listed as a National Trust Property.
  • Marcus Clarke named the property ‘Mount Wilga’ after the Wilga tree which was evergreen and could survive long periods of drought. He died in 1913, and didn’t live to see the finished house, which was completed by his wife, Georgina in 1914.
  • Mt Wilga Estate dates from an initial purchase in 1907 of 49 acres at Hornsby by Georgina Clark, wife of the successful Sydney Draper and Retailer, Henry Marcus Clark.
  • Additional purchases of 26.75 acres and 45 acres were made between 1907 and 1908.
  • In 1908 Clark built a 520 foot long suspension bridge over the deep gully which lies between Mt Wilga and Hornsby Railway Station to facilitate the arrival of guests to the property from Sydney.
  • Prior to Mt. Wilga, Clark had resided in ‘Sefton Hall’ in Marrickville Road, Dulwich Hill, which was named after a property in England.
  • Mt. Wilga was reputedly designed by the owner and planned along similar lines to his summer home ‘Sefton Hall’ at Mount Wilson in the Northern Blue Mountains. It was intended to be Marcus Clark’s winter home. The original garden as planned by Clark reflected an aesthetic of defining the property boundary and main access route as well as concealing the house from direct view and then revealing the house at journey’s end. A formal area of the garden was laid out to the north of the house and open paddocks and orchard to the west of the house. To the south and south east was a service area.external image 5044998b5.jpg
  • However, Clark died in 1913 during the construction of the large single storey Queen Anne style house. It was completed in 1914 by his widow, Georgina Clark. The Clark family resided at Mt Wilga until 1919.
  • Henry’s son, Les Clark built a very similar house ‘Dulcidene Homestead‘ near Dubbo.
  • In 1926 Mrs Georgina M Clark sold the house and a portion of its land to Miss Jessie Hamilton Scott of Hornsby who subdivided the land creating Manor Road. In 1928 the subdivision of Mt Wilga into 67 residential allotments was initiated. The large allotment containing Mt Wilga house remained in private hands until its sale in 1952 to the Commonwealth of Australia for use as a rehabilitation hospital.
  • In 1948 the property was owned by a Dr Smallpage. The Mt Wilga Rehabilitation Hospital operated between1952 and 1987. During the 35 year period the estate and house were altered to accommodate the functions and facilities of a rehabilitation hospital. Several large buildings were constructed on site.
  • In 1985 Howard Tanner & Associates (HT&A) prepared'”Mt Wilga, Hornsby NSW: Conservation Management Plan for the Administration Building’ for the Commonwealth Dept. of Housing & Construction.
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In January, 1987, Howard Tanner wrote to the then Heritage & Conservation Branch advising of the impending sale of the property by the Commonwealth Government. In March, 1987, HT&A wrote to the Heritage & Conservation Branch making recommendations for a site curtilage based on historic and contemporary conditions.

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  • Concern over the future of the site led to the placement of a Permanent Conservation Order (PCO) #535 over the house and some of the curtilage on 4 September,1987. This is understood to have taken place prior to the sale of the property.
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In late 1987 (post PCO listing) Alpha Pacific purchased the site for use as a private rehabilitation hospital, and in July, 1988, sought to subdivide the site. The Heritage Council refused the application which sought to reduce the curtilage around Mt Wilga.

  • A modified proposal to subdivide the site into two large allotments was subsequently approved by the Heritage Council. Consequently, Lot 2 DP 792198 was sold in 1990 to the Japan-based Buddhist sect, the Nichiren Shoshu Sokagakkai Australia and run as a Buddhist Cultural Centre. The northern Lot 1 DP 792198 continued to operate as a private hospital.
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Some unsympathetic rear brick additions and infill of verandahs. Some sandstone painted.

  • 2007-8: 88 units with basement parking:
  • Repairs and maintenance work to preserve the fabric of the building, including the:
  • removal of glazing to the tower reinstate the lookout at the summit o the tower;
  • replication of stolen items from the house (using documentary evidence) will improve the presentation of the house and allow an understanding of its decoration. This replication will restore significance that has been lessened by the theft of joinery items and lighting fixtures.
  • reconstruction of the stone gate will ensure its survival, restore its significance, enable an understanding of is significance as part of Marcus Clark’s pedestrian link to Hornsby across the gully, enhance its appearance and ensure public safety;
  • relaying original tiles on a new slab will prevent subsidence and protect the tiles from substrate collapse.; and – rebuilding the north-west corner of the front veranda will ensure the survival, while using the existing timber and stone elements (SHR).
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Former Uses: residence, rehabilitation hospital, Buddhist cultural centre residence, rehabilitation hospital

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The original garden planned by Clark reflected an aesthetic of defining the property boundary and main access route as well as concealing the house from direct view and then revealing the house at journey’s end. A formal area of the garden was laid out to the north of the house and open paddocks and orchard to the west of the house. To the south and south east was a service area.

  • Despite subdivision and loss of land to the north and east, a generous area of garden surrounds the house to the east and south. This retains the core of the eastern garden, driveway and a good part of the former service area, including the tennis court, bowling green and site of the former chicken house.
  • Subdivision and redevelopment of the hospital to the north and west has greatly altered much of the estate’s land there and encroaches fairly close to the carriage loop and western boundary of Mt.Wilga.

Period elements remaining on the site include border planting around the perimeter of the house.

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  • A grand drive sweeps south-west from Manor Road leading up to a fine circular carriage drive in front (north) of the house (formerly gravel, now bitumen) with central planting plot and dominant Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis) to 14m high. (This possibly dates from c1920s as it is not evident in a 1917 photograph).external image 5044998b3.jpg
  • The original long drive sandstone castellated gate arch structure no longer exists – it has been replaced with a modest brick pillar modern steel gates in the hospital era) but an eastern pedestrian entrance constructed of sandstone remains. This eastern entrance is covered by climbing fig (Ficus pumila var.pumila) and retains an intact wrought iron period gate.
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Mt Wilga’s grounds include large sloping lawn areas to the house’s east and south, a tennis court to its east, a bowling green to its south-east and some shrubbery (seemingly reduced in quantity).

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  • Large mature trees including Bunya Bunya pine (Araucaria bidwillii), Port Jackson or rusty fig (Ficus rubiginosa) and Monterey pines (Pinus radiata) to 20 metres (probably from c1910) camphor laurels (Cinnammomum camphora) and brush box (Lophostemon confertus) to a 16m evergreen /southern magnolia / bull bay (Magnolia grandiflora) and crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica).
  • Along the southern boundary there is a row of turpentine trees (Syncarpia glomulifera) to 15m high which have grown since the 1950s and, further to the south-west adjoining the former service driveway to the former garage, a Himalayan cedar (Cedrus deodara), book leaf cypress/arborvitae (Platycladus orientalis) and brush box trees (now outside the boundary to the west near the former service drive).
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  • Also mature trees on site include two sweet gums (Liquidambar styraciflua), two frangipani (Plumeria rubra) flanking the front steps to the house, a rare Syzygium jambos tree on the eastern boundary near the entrance drive, an ironbark tree west of the house (Eucalyptus sp., possibly E.crebra), a NZ flax bush south of the drawing room (Phormium tenax) and a large Chinese wisteria (W.sinensis) on the wire mesh fence of the tennis court.
  • Younger tree plantings on the eastern lawn include tupelo or sour gum (Nyssa sylvatica), Camellia sasanqua, a mature Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) and native cheese tree (Glochidion ferdinandii).(Stuart Read, 9/3/2012).
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PCO Plan Number 535Image by: Heritage Council of NSWImage copyright owner: Heritage Council of NSW
PCO Plan Number 535Image by: Heritage Council of NSWImage copyright owner: Heritage Council of NSW


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