Berrima’s Historic  Architecture

Berrima was established in the 1830’s and prospered as an administrative centre during a time of great growth and exploration in New South Wales. There are many historic buildings in the town of Berrima, and in fact the whole village is listed on the Register of the National Estate. The Berrima Village Trust was established in 1963 to preserve historic buildings.

Berrima Court House was designed by the colonial architect Mortimer Lewis. It was built between 1835 and 1838 in a Roman style. The Court House is built of sandstone with four Doric columns supporting a classical pediment. Now the building is stylistically classified as Georgian. There is fine interior joinery with curved cedar hewn by hand with an adze.

Old Berrima Gaol was built over four years from 1835. The workers were mainly convicts, many of whom worked in irons. The Gaol was opened in 1839, and renovated in 1866 to the standards described by the prison reform movement for a ‘model prison.’

Another beautiful building is the Surveyor General Inn which was built by William Harper in 1834. The hotel has been continuously licensed since 1839.

The Holy Trinity Anglican church was built in 1849. The design of this lovely Gothic Revival style church was created by Edmund Blackett and built from stone quarried directly behind it. The stained glass windows are thought to date back to the 15th century and to have come from a church in Cornwall in England.

The St Francis Xavier Catholic church was built on the site of the convict stockade between 1849 to 1851 and was designed by Augustus Pugin, a well-known British architect of Gothic-revival buildings. This is one of only two churches in Australia designed by the famous architect who worked on the design of the Houses of Parliament in London.

Harper’s Mansion was built in 1834 by James Harper, the first licensee of the Surveyor General Inn. It is a fine example of a Georgian House.

The White Horse Inn is a two storey sandstone building and was the largest building built for private use. Initially the home of Ben and Lucy Osborne, the original bushranger bolts can still be seen on the inside of the doors. The house has extensive cellars.

Berrima is considered to be the best preserved example of a Georgian village on the mainland of Australia.

Sydney’s Historic Buldings

Macquarie Street in Sydney has significant examples of Australian colonial architecture. These include the Mitchell Library, which is a part of the State Library of New South Wales, Parliament House, the Mint and the World-Heritage listed Hyde Park Barracks, as well as St James Church.

Other heritage properties in Sydney include Vaucluse House, Government House and Susannah Place.

One prime example of Victorian-era architecture is the Queen Victoria Building (QVB). This stunning building has glorious stained glass windows and grand staircases. This architectural masterpiece was designed by George McRae and completed in 1898. It is a lovely place to shop and eat. The QVB, which occupies a whole city block in George Street, was built in the 1890s as a monument to the long reigning monarch and was built during a severe recession. The Romanesque architecture is very elaborate and the grand building was planned on the scale of a Cathedral so the government could employ many out of work craftsmen such as stonemasons, plasterers and stained window artists. The most impressive feature of the QVB is the centre inner glass dome, with an exterior copper-sheathed dome. Gorgeous stained glass windows and wonderful architecture is found throughout the building and the original 19th century staircase sits alongside the dome. A giant Christmas tree sits in the dome during the Christmas season. The restoration and re-opening of the building took place in 1986, with arches, pillars, intricate tiled floors and balustrades faithfully restored.

Vaucluse House is a gothic style mansion with luxurious living areas and practical and functional downstairs areas. The house survives as one of Sydney’s only nineteenth century harbourside estates, still surrounded by ten hectares of formal gardens and grounds. The estate includes not only the house, but stables, a kitchen wing and other outbuildings. It was built in 1803 and was once owned and occupied by William Charles Wentworth and his family.

Government House was built between 1837 and 1845 for the Governor of NSW. It was the most sophisticated example of a Gothic Revival building in the colony. The house overlooks Sydney Harbour and is surrounded by an important historic garden with exotic trees and shrubs and pathways.

Susannah Place Museum is a terrace of four houses which was built in 1844. The Museum incorporates a re-created 1915 corner store. It is an example of community life in The Rocks from 1844 until 1990. There are many layers of paint finishes, wallpapers and floor coverings that have survived to give an indication of the tastes of the working class occupants. The open laundries and brick privies are some of the earliest sanitary and washing amenities that remain to this day in the city.

St Mary’s Cathedral is one of Sydney’s finest gems. It is one of the best and most treasured examples of English-style gothic churches in the world. William Wilkinson Wardell was a 19th century architect who had the dream of the gothic structure shaped from local yellow-block sandstone on which the city is built. However it was not until 100 years after his death that the building was finally completed.