Rippon Grange, Wahroonga

Rippon Grange, 35 Water Street Wahroonga

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A Two storey Federation Queen Anne house, erected in 1898

Rippon Grange 2.jpg
Rippon Grange, 35 Water Street Wahroonga
Waterbrook proposed new hospital use

Heritage Council:

“Rippon Grange”, erected c.1898, has significance for the following reasons:

  • The property includes a fine Federation Queen Anne house designed by the prominent architect Howard Joseland, and retains much of its original fabric and integrity. The 1954 alterations and additions were designed by Cobden Parkes, Government Architect.
  • The house and surviving grounds are generally in the form created for Frederick George Sargood. The grounds retain much of the original layout of paths and driveways and include early garden features such as croquet lawns, rock retaining walls and octagonal seating, and mature gum trees.
  • The property is also associated with Ernest Robert Williams, a founding director of Woolworths.
  • The house has been continuously used as a children’s hospital since 1952.

National Trust of Australia Classification Report:

  • Rippon Grange is a two storey Federation Queen Anne house constructed of face brick with spatterdash, and shingles with half-timbered gables.
    Rippon Grange 2007.jpg
  • The spatterdash and shingles have been replaced with cement sheeting. The terracotta roof remains.
  • The front entry was marked by a generous awning supported by large timber brackets (now removed) and steel ties. The rear (east) verandah retains its original columns at ground level. The shingled skirt and timber balustrade at first floor level has been replaced by a metal picket ballustrade and fibrous cement sheeting.
  • The southern bay of this elevation has been largely altered to form a connection to the 1960s two storey classroom block.
  • Internally the house retains most of its original layout and details. Of the principal rooms, the drawing room has been altered by the conversion of its northern bay into bathroom facilities for the hospital.
  • The kitchen wing is also largely intact including the servant’s stair and a basement area for the loading and unloading of luggage to and from the house.
  • There is evidence of a spiral stair which once connected the servant’s wing to the basement.
  • Features which survive internally include the cloakroom and lavatory off the entrance hall; servant’s bellboard; original stairs; fitted cupboards; decorative plaster ceilings; and most joinery and hardware.
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Wahroonga Heritage –

  • “Rippon Grange” was designed and built by Howard Joseland and Sir John Sulman c1898, with additions by Howard Joseland and Sir John Sulman c1905, and Cobden Parks c1954.
  • Rippon Grange has been nominated for State Heritage Listing by the National Trust.
  • Originally built for Frederick George Sargood, son of Lieutenant Colonel Senator Sir Frederick Thomas Sargood, KCMG, “Rippon Grange” was bought by Mr Ernest Robert Williams, Co-founder of Woolworths, in 1935.
external image rippon1.gif
  • It was built of brick with a tiled roof, with half timbered gables, tall chimneys and jutting bays. The deep set verandahs were built to take advantage of the view, being oriented east-west against the sun. The second storey stucco is painted white and is not typical of the Federation style.
Rippon Grange – a small hospital in the bush (woods) on the outskirts of the city

Site History

  • (The) Land was subdivided by Robert Burdett Smitt in 1880. Lots 4 & 5 were purchased by Frederick George Sargood (son of Senator Sir Frederick Thomas Sargood who built “Rippon Lea” in Melbourne) in 1898, at which time, “Rippon Grange” may have been built.
  • Joseland and Vernon were also commissioned to design the garden of 2.5 acres. In common with a number of other landmark properties in the area the large garden and large setbacks are integral to the original design concept.
  • In 1922, Sargood subdivided part of the property fronting Billyard Avenue and to the west of the existing title. Rippon Grange was transferred to Harriet Marion Sarah Braddock.
  • The gatehouse to Rippon Grange was separated from the house. It survives on Water Street, west of the existing property.
  • The house was originally built in brick and stone with timbered gables and stuccoed chimneys; the balconies and roof were originally covered with oak shingles, now replaced with terracotta tiles.
John Williams Hospital 35-45 Water Street, Wahroonga
John Williams Hospital 35-45 Water Street, Wahroonga
  • In 1935, Ernest Robert Williams bought the property, giving it to the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children in 1951 for treating children with polio. The hospital was named as a memorial to his son, John Robert Williams, R.A.A.F. officer who died in Germany
  • Rippon Grange was Trusted to (the) NSW Government in 1951 as a hospital for children, initially for treatment of polio, later for intellectually and the physically disabled. The hospital was named after Warrant Officer John Robert Williams, who died in WWII
  • The hospital was altered and opened in 1952, being used for the long term care of handicapped children when polio was largely eradicated through vaccination.
  • New classrooms were built in 1954 (designed by Government Architect Cobden Parkes) and (in) 1960.
  • In 1980, the hospital was transferred to the Hornsby and Ku-ring-gai District Hospital and then the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Disability Service. (National Trust of Australia Classification Report) Historical period: Pre-1900; 1901-1920
    Rippon Grange Heritage on Site.jpg

Property Details.jpg

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“In Wahroonga, the community raised money to help John Williams Hospital expand… but despite passionate opposition from the benefactors’ descendants and community groups, all three properties are, or soon will be, in private hands.

The John Williams property went first. In 2005 the government sold the 2.3 ha property to Waterbrook Lifestyle Resorts for $9.8 million. While the group has promised to restore the building, Ku-ring-gai Council and residents are opposed to its plans to build a hospital for psychiatric, rehabilitation, and postnatal patients in two new buildings on the site. –

Aerial View.jpg

National Trust of Australia Classification Report:

  • “The significance of Rippon Grange is not confined to the house itself but is also evident in its extensive gardens.
  • The gardens are largely in the Arts and Crafts style. Such gardens were influenced by a belief in organic design and traditional crafts. There was a preference for old fashioned trees and flowers rather than exotics and specimens which were favoured by the Victorians. Nature was encouraged to grow freely and around the paving, walls and other architectural forms (David Ottewill, The Edwardian Garden, Yale University Press, 1989).
  • These characteristics are evident in Rippon Grange – in the rustic timber summerhouse, the plantings of camellias and other traditional shrubs, the tree ferns and other ferns, the grotto and rock walls and the wild component of the garden. Extant gardens in this style are rare in Sydney.
  • Overall the gardens are assessed as being of State heritage significance…”
    Garden behind the stable.jpg
  • “The connections with the significant Victorian heritage property Rippon Lea add to its historic significance but they can also be discerned in the landscape and the extravagant garden features. From 1883 the Rippon Lea gardens, originally laid out in the Gardenesque style, were redesigned by important gardener William Sangster. Sangster removed trees and shrubs to create open vistas with great lawns and a lake.
    Rippon Grange fernery.jpg
    Rippon Grange possible fernery
  • In the mid-19th century, a fern craze swept the world, and Rippon Lea had its own fernery in a shade house. Rippon Grange also had a “bush house” which was removed at the time of subdivision and there is a fernery adjacent to the croquet lawn. Both gardens are divided into the ornamental garden and the service areas which included paddocks, orchards and vegetable gardens.
  • The Rippon Grange Conservation Management Plan statement of significance (p 3 of the Heritage Impact Statement) recognizes the historic and aesthetic significance of the original home, and correctly recognizes that the grounds are of State significance and should be conserved (p. 4). Important factors are their scale, integrity and relative intactness. However the rankings of significant fabric are not always in keeping with the statement of significance.”

The proposed development

  • “The developer suggests that the development will conserve and rehabilitate the house and garden areas and “help regain their important historical relationship”. While it is true that the garden directly to the rear of the house will be cleared of intrusive elements, a new building (Building F) is proposed directly next to the croquet lawn, destroying the original approach and curtilage to that area. The plan actually proposes to relocate the summer house from its original position and the tree ferns will be removed altogether ( Source: Floor plan (Ground level) North ‘
    38673206I think it must be the stable.jpg
  • “The Trust is unaware of any Arts and Crafts garden in Sydney of similar quality and scale.The Heritage Impact Statement indicates that the area has not been treated as a whole in the Conservation Management Plan. The view may have been taken that as the summer house had recently collapsed from neglect (the timbers are probably still on site) that its significance was lessened. That does not make it acceptable to relocate it from the position it originally had, in order to fit in new Building F, which is what is proposed in the Development Application.This would alter the original concept and there is no real justification provided for that, particularly when the Heritage Impact Statement boasts that it is enhancing appreciation of the original garden relationships etc.
    Proposed Concept Plan.jpg
  • The plan shows little respect for early plantings generally, proposing to move them or just not mentioning them.
  • The overall scale of the development has a major impact on the garden which in turn affects the house and the surrounding area.
  • Adapative re-use of Rippon Grange and its gounds should take a much more sympathetic approach.
BULK & SCALE of DA Approved for Rippon Grange.jpg
Bulk and Scale of Approval for Rippon Grange site

Controversial Wahroonga development approved

  • LOCAL NEWS 11 JUN 10 @ 03:32PM
    Ku-ring-gai MP Barry O’Farrell outside the former John Williams hospital site

“NSW Planning Minister Tony Kelly has given the green light for Waterbrook Lifestyle Resorts to build a private hospital on
the Rippon Grange site in Wahroonga.

Local residents, who have spent $100,000 of their own money fighting the development that has been knocked back twice by the Land and Environment Court, are in shock.

The $44 million development involves a 118-bed hospital across five above ground levels, as well as basement parking, administration rooms, medical suites and café.”

Rippon rouses residents ire


“RESIDENTS have again galvanised in opposition to plans for a new hospital on the Rippon Grange site at Wahroonga.

  • More than 80 people attended a public meeting on Tuesday night held by the John Williams Neighbourhood Group (JWNG) at The Bush School to voice their opposition to the Waterbrook Health proposal.
  • The meeting’s organisers slammed the Waterbrook plan as barely different to the same developer’s unsuccessful application to build an aged-care facility at the site.
    The now-dilapidated Rippon Grange. Picture: JOHN APPLEYARD
  • “This is not a rethink,” said JWNG chairman Cameron Harris.
  • “The proposal is just the same thing with a few minor differences,” he said.

The previous Waterbrook application for an aged-care facility on the site was denied by Ku-ring-gai Council, the Ku-ring-gai Planning Panel, and by the Land and Environment Court.

  • “This is the wrong place for such a building and the developer really needs to take notice of what they have been told from three separate decisions,” Mr Harris said.
  • Mr Harris said residents still had concerns about the effects of such wide-scale development on the endangered blue gum high forest, as well as concerns over the size and scale of such a facility in residential surrounds.
  • Waterbrook Health announced plans for the hospital last week and submitted an application to the NSW Government to have the proposal assessed as a major project. If its application is successful then the NSW Planning Department would be responsible for its approval or denial.

Mr Harris said his group would appeal to the Planning Department to deny the Waterbrook submission.

  • “The backers behind this are pretty hard-nosed. They think they can get away with getting around the planning principles of the local area using any means possible,” Mr Harris said.”

Heritage significance of historic Rippon Grange property to be preserved

Rippon Grange. Image Courtesy National Trust (NSW)
Rippon Grange. Image Courtesy National Trust (NSW)

“The National Trust (NSW) has won its battle to stop a development proposal encroaching on the heritage significance of Rippon Grange House and its gardens.
The decision by the Land and Environment Court to reject the development proposal has been welcomed by the Trust Executive Director, Tina Jackson, who declared it a “landmark decision”.
The Court ruled that the development application did not appropriately consider the heritage significance of Rippon Grange or the adjacent Blue Gum Forest.
Rippon Grange and its garden are listed by the National Trust and the Ku-ring-gai Blue Gum High Forest has been nominated by the Trust for the National Heritage @ Risk program.”

Latest News:

“The developers of 35 Water Street have entered into an agreement to sell the property to a private family that will restore the house and grounds to use as a family residence and also propose a small subdivision. Thus hopefully putting an end to all the uncertainty with the future of the site. In the short term, essential maintenance will be performed on the house and a caretaker will live onsite to ensure security from any vandalism.”


All accessed 4 June 2012 – 5 June 2012


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