Darling Point boasts many impressive mansions.
But only one can claim a number of historical firsts: the heritage-listed Lindesay.
Before today’s wedding guests or tour groups arrived – even before Queen Victoria came to power – Lindesay took pride of place on the tip of Darling Point in colonial Sydney.
Lindesay was the first house built on Darling Point, at 1 Carthona Avenue, after the land was subdivided. In another first, it is the earliest example of Gothic Revival architecture in an Australian home. And, given its position, it was also the first home in Sydney to enjoy Darling Point’s sublime harbour views.
The house was originally set on 17 acres, with stables and other outbuildings, and gardens extending to the edge of Sydney Harbour.
But all of this is unlikely to have impressed Lindesay’s first owner, Campbell Drummond Riddell. He was, by all accounts, a born complainer.
A Scotsman, Riddell moved to Sydney in 1830 to become Colonial Treasurer. And immediately the complaints began. First, he took issue with his pay. He then complained about leave, about a building allotment grant he didn’t receive, about some of his professional duties and, to bring things full circle, about his pay again. He was so vocal about his grievances even his friends asked him to stop complaining.
Nonetheless, Riddell got on with the task of building Lindesay. Construction began in 1834 and was completed in 1836.
The house and grounds
Lindesay reflects the times in which it was built, being visually more understated than some of Darling Point’s other grand and ornate mansions, mostly built in the Victorian era. This simplicity also reflects a certain Scottish austerity that Riddell brought with him from his home country.
But with simplicity comes elegance. Lindesay is a classic Georgian home: well proportioned, understated, symmetrical. The drawing-room chimneypiece is (in another first) the earliest example of the Louis Revival style in Australian domestic architecture. The home also has a beautiful music room, and a dining room decked out today in deep red, from its sumptuous wallpaper and carpets to its tartan curtains. A nod to Scotland for Campbell Riddell, perhaps.
Outside, the elegance continues with a parterre garden and manicured lawns. And then there are those unrivalled views, which have drawn people to Darling Point since the 19th century.
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Lindesay after Riddell
Riddell sold Lindesay just two years after its completion.
Among its many other owners were Thomas Mitchell, Surveyor General and explorer, and Charles Nicholson. Nicholson, a surgeon, future Chancellor of the University of Sydney and a keen collector of rare books, housed one of the colony’s largest private libraries here. He even dedicated a whole room to his statue collection.
In 1926 the Pye family bought Lindesay, with William Pye its final owner. In 1963 he donated the home and some of its furniture to the National Trust, who continue to look after the house to this day.
Lindesay is a sought-after venue for couples wanting a wedding steeped in refinement and history. And every year it hosts the much-loved Lindesay Christmas Fair.
Exhibitions and other community events are held here, too. There are garden parties, afternoon teas and multicultural food days, and even – maintaining that Scottish connection – a Highland gathering. Surely Riddell would approve.
And if you’re looking for somewhere to host an intimate cocktail or dinner party, Lindesay’s music and dining rooms are available for hire.
Looking for your own piece of Darling Point history? Call me today.
Photo credits: Wikipedia