Rathven, Randwick

Heritage Villa: Rathven, 43 St Marks Road, Randwick, NSW

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43 St Marks Road, Randwick, NSW 2031 and Glebe Gully


  • See also Randwick Heritage

[This is not a Federation building, but is of Victorian style, and was built only a decade before the Federation era.

Federation features: Hipped roof, tall decorative chimneys, simple fireplaces…
Nonetheless, It is beautiful, and deserves a page, surely!]

  • “A large elaborately detailed Italianate house with a central tower commanding magnificent views over Glebe Gully.
  • Difficult to see behind objectional high brick wall. Main frontage appears to be away from the street, to the east.
    – Randwick Council Heritage Study


Image Year: 16 Sep 11 Image By: Stewart Watters Image Copyright Owner: NSW Heritage Branch
Image Year: 16 Sep 11 Image By: Stewart Watters Image Copyright Owner: NSW Heritage Branch

Rathven was constructed circa 1887, and is a large two-storey house of high Victorian domestic architecture.

43 St Marks Road, //Randwick// – YouTube


3 Mar 2011 – 3 min – Uploaded by Ray White Double Bay

Welcome to Rathven…. … 43 St Marks Road, Randwick

► :38
  • It is associated with George Raffan who was a prominent Sydney businessman and grazier. He pioneered the cement industry and is associated with Portland Cement. The house and its features are unique in the Randwick area.
  • The roof has an unusual mansard and dormer design with a central tower, which is not part of the perimeter walls, with surrounding ‘widow’s walk’.
  • In elevation the house is assymetrical with a rounded projecting bay on the southern end.


external image house_pool_600-600x400.jpg
external image 5045400b8.jpg =Data=Name of Item: Rathven
Type of Item: Complex / Group
Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Villa
Location: 43 St Marks Road, Randwick, NSW 2031
Local Govt: Randwick
Designer: George Raffan
Builder: George Raffan
Constructed: 1887 – 1887
Current Use: Private Residence
Former Use: Private Residence, boarding house for school



|| external image 5045400b8.jpg


  • Rathven’s interior details includes cornices, ornate ceilings and fine joinery remaining intact and in good condition.
  • Rathven is set on a 2117 square metre site with with landscaped grounds in-ground swimming pool, spa, tennis court, lawn area, mature trees and shrubs.
    external image house_pool_600-600x400.jpg
  • The house has six bedrooms, six bathrooms, double garage, formal living, dining rooms,reception and study.
  • Rathven was constructed as a residence on land that extended to the bottom of Glebe Gully,
    Glebe Gully Reserve by wald-traut  Selected for Google Earth
    Glebe Gully Reserve by wald-traut Selected for Google Earth
    • with its gardens featuring Norfolk Island pines (Araucaria heterophylla),
    • huge bamboos (probably Bambusa balcooa) and two Port Jackson fig trees (Ficus rubiginosa).


A Randwick record for historic Rathven?

February 26, 2011 – domain.com.au
Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday February 26, 2011, Jonathan Chancellor

  • “Rathven, a tightly held circa-1887 Randwick residence, has been listed for March 17 auction.
  • “The six-bedroom, six-bathroom Italianate colonial villa sits on a 2117 sq m St Marks Road block.
  • “The grounds come with an 18-metre pool, a spa and a tennis court.
  • It was built by the colonial carpenter George Raffan on land that extended to the bottom of Glebe Gully, with the gardens featuring Norfolk Island pines, huge bamboos and two Port Jackson fig trees.
  • After his arrival from Scotland in 1874, Raffan had a shop on Bridge Street near the Tank Stream. Raffan pioneered the cement industry and became a pastoralist, owning Lue and Cooyal stations at Mudgee.
  • By 1925 the property was owned by Dr Abraham M. Loewenthal who sold it in September 1927.
  • After its 1927 sale by Dr Abraham M. Loewenthal, Rathven operated as a boarding school for Sydney Grammar School until 1976.
  • It was heritage listed in 1979 by planning minister Paul Landa after 72 residential apartments were proposed for the site.
  • It last traded, derelict, in 1982 for $410,000 when bought by gastroenterologist Dr Terry Bolin and his wife, Robin.
  • It’s been listed through Donna Mauthner and Michael Finger at Ray White Double Bay, who should easily smash the Randwick record, which stands at $5.3 million, when the residence on 569 sq m of the retired Swans coach Paul Roos and his wife, Tami, sold last year.”



Grand Dame of Randwick

external image 5045400b2.jpg
  • When the Bolins bought historic Rathven in 1982, it was a disused boarding school, with sections of roof missing and entire rooms gutted. The couple spent 18 months restoring the villa to its original grandeur, complete with a full-size tennis court and 18-m pool. They have lived there for nearly 30 years, uncovering the stories of the magnificent home, a labour of love for builder George Raffen.
external image 5045400b1.jpg


  • Enter through dramatic gates into a sun-drenched outdoor courtyard, reminiscent of Italian paved terraces. A closed in veranda at the rear of the house (used as the front door) is filled with light through floor to ceiling windows.
  • The Bolins have kept each room for its original purpose, but updated spaces where required so the house now includes a large modern kitchen with white cabinetry, tiled walls and a casual dining space painted in cheery yellow.


  • The original period hallway holds the house together (including the colour scheme – Robin Bolin matched every colour in the palette to the ornate tessellated tiled floor). The soaring ceilings on the ground floor are gilded with ornate cornices, the like of which are rarely seen outside of Italy.


  • Take your pick of any number of living spaces on the ground floor. The grand and formal dining room is adjoined by a small sitting room where once upon a time, men would have retired after dinner.
  • An elegant Blue Room boasts giant windows to look out on the garden, while the property has large living rooms designed to make the most of the morning light and evening entertaining. A grand music room with a large bay window and turret-shaped window is a fantastic space for entertaining. The wraparound veranda at the original entry of the house looks over the beautifully landscaped gardens.
  • Up the beautiful cedar staircase a second level offers a large master bedroom, with walk in dressing room and enormous master bathroom. Two rooms with sloping eaves make cosy bedrooms looking out over the gardens. There is a second bathroom and additional living space on this floor. The original belltower is accessible by ladder.


  • Six bedrooms
  • Six bathrooms
  • Formal living, dining, reception & study areas
  • Gourmet Miele gas kitchen, casual living spaces
  • Deluxe master suite with walk-in & full ensuite
  • Bell tower with ocean view, wraparound verandah
  • 18m in-ground pool and spa
  • Full size tennis court
  • Double lock-up garage


Heritage Item Rathven

(NSW Heritage Listing)
George Raffan was a prominent Sydney businessman and grazier. He was a northern Scot, born in the county of Banffshire and arrived in New South Wales in 1874. After his arrival he had a shop on Bridge Street, Sydney near the Tank Stream. He commenced business as a building contractor, and within five years became one of the leading contractors of Sydney. He pioneered the cement industry and became a pastoralist, owning Lue and Cooyal stations at Mudgee. He died suddenly in Sydney in 1915.

external image 5045400b5.jpg

The following information is from the Sands Directory:

  1. 1888 – G Raffan – Builder
  2. 1889-1912 – same entry as above
  3. 1913 – G Raffan J.P – Contactor
  4. 1915 – Gordon Dixon
  5. 1918 – Gordon Dixon
  6. 1921 – J.N. Silk
  7. 1925 – Abraham M Loewenthal


  • After its 1927 sale by Dr Abraham M.Loewenthal, Rathven operated as a boarding school for Sydney Grammar School until 1976. During this period a large two-storey classroom wing was added and the billiard room demolished. The school vacated the property in 1977/78 and was sold to a developer in 1979.
  • In January 1979 community respresentations were received from the Randwick and Districts Historical Society, Randwick Residents Action Group and the Randwick Glebe Gully Preservation Group concerned that Rathven was to be demolished as part of a proposed development of the Glebe Gully.
  • An Interim Heritage Order placed over the property on 4 May 1979. A Permanent Conservation Order under the NSW Heritage Act was placed on the property in 23 October 1981 by then Minister for Planning, Paul Landa, after 72 residential apartments were proposed for the site.
  • It was purchased in 1982 by Dr Terry Bolin and his wife Robin who with the financial assistance of the Heritage Council Heritage Incentives Programme completed a considerable schedule of works conserving and restoring Rathven.
  • It was transferred to the State Heritage Register on 2 April 1999. (Randwick and District Historical Society) (Heritage Office files)


  • 1980s – conservation and restoration
  • 1980s sold in derelict condition. A double garage was built, later a swimming pool, spa and tennis court.
  • 2007 Install door to double garage built in late 1980s to provide pedestrian access.



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