The ‘finest house in the colony’.
As one of NSW’s most sophisticated and elegant houses of the 1830s, Elizabeth Bay House has been on my Sydney bucket list for far too long, and so with an overcast Sunday afternoon to burn, I finally crossed it off.
Back in 1835, Colonial secretary Alexander Macleay was an important public official in the colony of NSW, with a salary and aspirations to match. Subsequently, he began to build the ultimate trophy house on a magnificent waterfront site in eastern Sydney’s Elizabeth Bay.
The property covered an expansive 54 acres, but unfortunately Macleay financially over-spent several times during his life, and so by 1844, his eldest son William Sharp Macleay, eventually stepped in to save his father from bankruptcy, taking over his extensive debts. Eventually, the land slowly divided up, and now little remains of what was once a truly spectacular garden.
Over the past 150 years, the house has been used as a family home, an artists’ squat, and at one stage, it was divided up into flats. Today, it is presented as a museum where visitors can view how the interior would have looked back in the 18th century. You can also hire it out for events and weddings.
My favourite room is the drawing room – I think it’s such a beautiful, feminine room, that I would love to recreate one day. I also enjoyed looking around the underground wine cellar; imagine what it looked like back then!
Where: 7 Onslow Ave, Elizabeth Bay NSW 2011
For more information about Elizabeth House, visit their website here.