Sydney’s Bishopscourt to sell for $25m plus

by AF

Bishopscourt, Sydney
$25 million +

The finest Gothic Revival house in New South Wales may finally be put up for sale. Bishopscourt has been the home of Sydney’s Anglican Archibishops since 1911, but its history extends back to the 1840s when it was a grand gentleman’s residence.

The sandstone mansion was originally a smaller 2-storey cottage called Percyville built in 1841 by ironmonger Thomas Woolley. In 1845, businessman Thomas Sutcliffe Mort leased the land and purchased the cottage and 2.8 hectare estate the following year for 2,500 pounds. Mr. Mort was a pioneer of weekly wool auctions and the refrigeration of food. He was also one of the founders of the AMP Society.

Mort, along with architect J.F. Hilly, transformed the cottage into a gentleman’s residence in 1846 and named it Greenoaks. Later additions were made by Edmund Blacket in 1859 and Professor Leslie Wilkinson in 1935.

The home was one of the most palatial residences of early Sydney, and had equally elaborate landscaped gardens to match. Mort hired the services of landscape designer Michael Guilfoyle, who created one of the finest gardens in Sydney. The core of the garden, along with some of the original plants, still remain today. Guilfoyle’s nursery adjoined Greenoaks to the south on land that he leased from Mort.

Darling Point mansions. Greenoaks is visible on the hill in the distance. Via National Library of Australia.

Mort had his own gallery displaying 200 works of art, suits of English armour and war weapons collected on a trip to England in 1857-1859. During his trip he attended a sale at the Earl of Shrewsbury’s Alton Towers. The gallery was opened to the public once a month.

In 1892, the estate was sold to grazier Michael Campbell Langtree. Langtree subdivided the estate and sold part of Greenoaks to the Church of England in 1910 for 6,750 pounds. Prior to the sale, the house had been rented out to several tenants, including Major-General Hutton. The construction of Greenoaks Avenue led to a further subdivision of the property. The house is currently on a 6,216 sqm block of land.

The house is listed on the Register of the National Estate and is also listed under the NSW Heritage Act.

The Sale

The house is currently occupied by Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen, and will be made available for sale sometime after July 2013. The Church hope to sell the property within five years.

Agents estimated it could sell for well in excess of $25 million.

The Church has contemplated selling the property several times since the 1960s.In 2010, a motion to sell the property was put forward but rejected. Last week, however, approval was finally made to sell the property.

Money from the sale will be used for a more practical and less expensive place for the archbishop to live.


11A Greenoaks Avenue, Darling Point, Sydney

‘Archibishop’s amnion expected to fetch more than $25m’, October 17, 2012.
NSW Government Environment & Heritage.
Black & White internal images here.