The Abbey, Johnston Street, Annandale

The Abbey, 1880s

The Abbey, 1880s

The entire contents of the Johnston Street, Annandale landmark home The Abbey, being the lifetime collection of Dr Geoffrey Davis, an eminent Sydney physician and music lover. is to be auctioned.

Furnishings include dumbwaiters, revolving bookcases and many cedar chests, extensive display cabinets and bookcases, washstands, desks, chesterfields, early coffer, Georgian gateleg table, boxes and compendiums of all shapes and sizes.

Viewing is Friday 22nd May with the auction happening on both Saturday 23rd & Sunday 24th May. The Auctioneers have offered an opportunity for the Annandale Historical Society to ask those attending on the 3 days to donate a gold coin as a means of raising funds for its work.

See the Lawson’s Auctioneers site at http://www.lawsons.com.au/

More info. on The Abbey can be found at: http://localnotes.wordpress.com/2008/09/19/the-houses-of-john-young/

15 comments to The Abbey, Johnston Street, Annandale

  • Simon Pilcher

    The Abbey is scheduled to be sold by Auction at 3.45pm on November 7th, 2009. Simon Pilcher of McGrath Estate Agents is looking after the sale and arranging appointments for buyers in the AUD$5M+ price range. See McGrath Esate Agents web link: http://www.mcgrath.com.au/83543/?searchID=184809

  • Kevin Morgan

    As a boy i played in the abbey spending many hours in the underground dungeon.
    The Ghost of the abbey was a boyhood discussion and we had many occasions being scared off by the presence.
    The dungeon was located of Weyton street and was a small prison like room with a large Iron gate at it’s entrance. If it is still their i don’t know.
    We were also scared away at times by the owner at the time who from memory was a doctor.
    Brings back memories of many fantisy full days of boyhood play.

  • .`~ I am really thankful to this topic because it really gives up to date information `”.

  • Localnotes

    Marcia Goulding

    Dear Matt,
    I am writing this letter hoping you may like to know a little about the years I lived in The Abbey. It was 1931 when i first went to live at The Abbey, i was 8 years old and my grandmother and Aunt were the caretakers (Mrs M Denson and Miss D Denson). I was married from the Abbey in 1942. My husband was in the army, so i still lived with my grandmother and Aunt until 1948 or 1949 when we built our own home. The Abbey had 9 flats, I can still remember all the tenants names. My uncle built a boat in the garage in the back where the laundry was. We were told it used to be horse stables. I think it was early 50?s when my grandmother and aunt came to live with me. I dont know where the story came from but we always thought that the owner of The Abbey was Sir John Young who had The Abbey built so he could bring his wife out from England but she died on the ship on the way over. Perhaps that is where the story ‘lady in white’ came from. It was very interesting for me to learn the real story about John Young and that he was the builder of all the other old homes.
    I would like to hear from you.
    Marcia Goulding

  • Localnotes

    Francesca Davis

    Dear Marcia,

    I would be very, very interested in anything you have to tell me about your time living in The Abbey. I am particularly interested in exactly that time – prior to when we came there in 1959 – and yes I too can remember many of the names of the tenants in the flats! You can email me directly f.delano.davis@gmail.com if you would like.

    And Hi Matt – you missed a very, very big weekend! Lots of memories…but it is not over and out, just yet.

    Francesca Davis

  • Localnotes

    31 July 2009: Haunted and abandoned « Scratching Sydney’s Surface

    […] ranking Mason. The house reflects Young’s Masonic leanings, with its exterior adorned with ‘lions, quatrefoils, chimneys, turrets, a cloister and a tower with copper cladding’. Young never lived at The Abbey and by 1924 it had passed out of family hands and had been […]

  • Localnotes

    Hi,

    I was just looking up “Hockingdon” and found this. I grew up in Greba (70-76), then Hockingdon (76-81) and am a long-term friend of Katriona Davis from The Abbey (We went to Hilda Booler). I am too young to remember Roselle, but I distinctly remember those horrid flats being built. Recently I had cause to go to those flats…they have the same smell as they did in 1975!

    I attended Annandale Nth and the houses were well known and were also our sporting houses. The then owner of Highroyd, Mrs. Isabelle Godfrey was most pleased that my sport house was hers! I was constantly asked about the houses, as there was much interest…and disbelief of the fact I lived in the Witches Houses. This was dispelled, somewhat, while on a walking tour with our teacher I took my yr6 class into the backyard and opened the back door and came back out with my budgie, George, who was too fat to fly.

    I was always entranced by the history of the houses and extremely grateful for giving in some of Sydney’s most fascinating houses. Even though they were subdivided tenancies, it was a remarkable childhood indeed.

    Oh, and Hi Fran :-*

  • Localnotes

    « at the water’s edge : History Week 2008 September 6-14
    celebrating History Week 2008 – my place »
    Annandale – the houses of John Young

    September 19, 2008 by localnotes

    John Young “The Eminent Australian Builder”

    John Young master builder, engineer and masoner, erected a row of notable and original houses in Annandale, situated along Johnston Street. Six of these houses remain to be significant historically and architecturally: Nos 260-272 Johnston Street are: Kenilworth, Highroyd, Hockingdon, the now demolished Claremont, Oybin, Greba and The Abbey.

    Johnston Street, Annandale, ca 1880s showing The Abbey

    Kenilworth: 260 Johnston Street, built 1888-1889 The house Sir Henry Parkes rented for the last years of his life and died there in 1896. Originally there was another identical house called “Claremont” at 258 Johnston Street, which was demolished in 1967. This pair of houses featured a centre spire. The design of the four original “Witches Houses” display Gothic and Romanesque features which are likely the work of architect John Richards. It is thought the homes were dubbed the “Witches Houses” from the resemblance of the silhouettes of the towers to witches hats.

    Kennilworth

    Highroyd & Hockingdon 262, 264 Johnston Street, 1888-1890. Hockingdon and Highroyd were built as a pair, to provide an income for Young’s daughters, Annie and Nellie, although they never lived there. These two houses featured side spires, unlike the other two “Witches Houses”.

    Hockingdon

    Oybin: 270 Johnston Street, Annandale Situated next to the Abbey Oybin was built for the architect C.H.E Blackmann who occupied it from 1881 to 1885. A handsome example of the Victorian Italliannate villa, the home features a square tower over the front enterance, a typical feature of houses built in the 1880s in Annandale and nearby suburbs.

    Oybin

    The Abbey

    The Abbey is the most notable and renowned of the houses built by John Young, It has been suggested that the architect may have been William Wardell (architect of St Mary’s Cathederal) in conjunction with Young. The Abbey has been described as a stone Gothic Revival mansion, modelled on a Scottish manor. Young gave his imagination free rein and the house incorporates gables, arches, gargoyles, lions, quatrefoils, chimneys, turrets, a cloister and a tower with copper cladding (it was rumoured that Young may have stolen gargoyles from St Mary’s Cathedral, which he built, but there was no proof). Young was the highest ranking Mason in Australia and The Abbey incorporates Masonic themes. It is possible that the building may have been used by Young as a Masonic Lodge. After Young’s death, The Abbey was occupied by a series of tenants, who subdivided the house to create flats and flatettes. A new owner acquired the house in 1959 and restored it. It is now on the Register of the National Estate.[1]

    Kentville

    Kentville, was built as John Young’s home, in a three-hectare garden setting adjacent to Rozelle Bay. The land was bought by Young in 1877, and included a cottage built by Robert Johnston. Young enlarged the cottage and named it Kentville after his home county in the UK. He also built a bowling green on the land and opened it to the public – thought to be Sydney’s first lawn bowls green. Young hoped that the Annandale area would be fine enough to rival places like Darling Point – a suburb for the “genteel” classes – but by 1895 Annandale was referred to as a “working man’s suburb”, similar to its neighbouring inner-city suburbs, with workers housing interspersed with manufacturing industry. John Young’s vision for Annandale was never realised.

    References

    1. The Heritage of Australia, Macmillan Company, 1981, p.2/34

    2. The Annandale Assocaiation Newsletters.

    3. Annandale – Buildings file in Leichhardt Local History collection.
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    Posted in Latest Posts | Tagged Annandale, Highroyd, Hockingdon, John Young, Kennilworth, Oybin, The Abbey, The witches houses | 8 Comments
    8 Responses

    on May 16, 2009 at 6:14 pm | Reply matt kennedy

    You may be interested to know that the entire contents of The Abbey are to be auctioned off on the weekend of 23/24 May 2009. The house will be sold later in the year. I grew up in the Abbey – on and off – for the first 10 years of my life, (it was owned by a dear friend of my dad, and one of the first people I knew in my life, Dr Geoff Davis, who sadly passed away last year).

    It’s been the one constant ‘institution’ in my life, and I can’t believe it won’t be in the Davis family hands for much longer.

    on May 31, 2009 at 5:37 pm | Reply Marcia Goulding

    Dear Matt,
    I am writing this letter hoping you may like to know a little about the years I lived in The Abbey. It was 1931 when i first went to live at The Abbey, i was 8 years old and my grandmother and Aunt were the caretakers (Mrs M Denson and Miss D Denson). I was married from the Abbey in 1942. My husband was in the army, so i still lived with my grandmother and Aunt until 1948 or 1949 when we built our own home. The Abbey had 9 flats, I can still remember all the tenants names. My uncle built a boat in the garage in the back where the laundry was. We were told it used to be horse stables. I think it was early 50?s when my grandmother and aunt came to live with me. I dont know where the story came from but we always thought that the owner of The Abbey was Sir John Young who had The Abbey built so he could bring his wife out from England but she died on the ship on the way over. Perhaps that is where the story ‘lady in white’ came from. It was very interesting for me to learn the real story about John Young and that he was the builder of all the other old homes.
    I would like to hear from you.
    Marcia Goulding

    on June 7, 2009 at 10:19 pm Francesca Davis

    Dear Marcia,

    I would be very, very interested in anything you have to tell me about your time living in The Abbey. I am particularly interested in exactly that time – prior to when we came there in 1959 – and yes I too can remember many of the names of the tenants in the flats! You can email me directly f.delano.davis@gmail.com if you would like.

    And Hi Matt – you missed a very, very big weekend! Lots of memories…but it is not over and out, just yet.

    Francesca Davis

    on May 20, 2009 at 7:00 pm | Reply The Abbey, Johnston Street, Annandale « Local Notes

    […] More info. on The Abbey can be found at: http://localnotes.wordpress.com/2008/09/19/the-houses-of-john-young/ […]

    on July 31, 2009 at 10:44 am | Reply 31 July 2009: Haunted and abandoned « Scratching Sydney’s Surface

    […] ranking Mason. The house reflects Young’s Masonic leanings, with its exterior adorned with ‘lions, quatrefoils, chimneys, turrets, a cloister and a tower with copper cladding’. Young never lived at The Abbey and by 1924 it had passed out of family hands and had been […]

    on August 18, 2009 at 8:31 pm | Reply Neil

    Hi, I’m the person who wrote the articles about The Abbey and Highroyd on Wikipedia. Thanks for this site, which is fabulous. I intend to put it in the articles as a link.

    on September 11, 2009 at 2:06 pm | Reply Jason Chatwin

    Hi,

    I was just looking up “Hockingdon” and found this. I grew up in Greba (70-76), then Hockingdon (76-81) and am a long-term friend of Katriona Davis from The Abbey (We went to Hilda Booler). I am too young to remember Roselle, but I distinctly remember those horrid flats being built. Recently I had cause to go to those flats…they have the same smell as they did in 1975!

    I attended Annandale Nth and the houses were well known and were also our sporting houses. The then owner of Highroyd, Mrs. Isabelle Godfrey was most pleased that my sport house was hers! I was constantly asked about the houses, as there was much interest…and disbelief of the fact I lived in the Witches Houses. This was dispelled, somewhat, while on a walking tour with our teacher I took my yr6 class into the backyard and opened the back door and came back out with my budgie, George, who was too fat to fly.

    I was always entranced by the history of the houses and extremely grateful for giving in some of Sydney’s most fascinating houses. Even though they were subdivided tenancies, it was a remarkable childhood indeed.

    Oh, and Hi Fran :-*

    on March 23, 2010 at 11:35 am | Reply marian Kelly

    Hi,
    I’m an illustrator with a special interest in childrens’ literature and I’m facinated by The Abbey. I’ve lived in Leichhardt for over 28 years now but my interest in this over the top romantic architectural fantasy dates well before that. I’ve sketched it from various angles – or what you can see of it above that incredible tangle of a garden – over the years and have featured it in one of my fun pieces on the web. I’m so pleased to find all this information available and hope beyond hope that The Abbey will survive with its new owners as mysterious and quirky and amazing as its been all these years.
    Thanks for the information.

  • Anthony

    Oh my god!! You people are so fortunate to have lived in or even entered this amazing building. I, as a constantly daydreaming lover of old buildings, antiques and history, can only imagine what it would be like to even set foot inside this house. And a dungeon??!! WOW!!

    I would just love to go inside and explore. Every time I drive past I am transfixed. There’s something really inviting about a hug sandstone wall and a great big mysterious house.

    Anthony

  • francesca

    I wish i could live in one of the witches houses so bad, they are so intresting to have been built so long ago in such a beautiful city too!
    i recently read a book called “The ivory Rose” by Belinda Murrel and i am telling you it is a book you NEED to read. its about this girl called Jemma who lives in 2011 and she is baby sitting a girl called Sammy who lives in one of the witches houses called Rosethorne (This house is made up. it is mixed between “Hockinton and Highroyd”).
    sammy has a imaginary friend called Georgie who happens to be the ghost of Rosethorne. One day Jemma and Sammy are playing hide and seek when Jemma falls down the steps and gets knocked unconscious.

    Jemma wakes up in 1895 and gets taken in by the people that live in Rosethorne at the time, she becomes one of the maid servant for the people that live there. When Jemma gets used to the place she meets a girl called Georgiana who happens to be sick.
    Near the end it’s up to Jemma to help Georgiana stay alive, so Jemma trys to find out why Georgiana is so sick because Jemma knows that Georgiana is going to die because she saw it through the Ivory Rose. One night someone… is trying to kill Georgiana by suffercating her with a pillow, but Jemma stops “the person” before they could kill her! Anyway it is a really GOOD book i love it to bits plz read it! Oh and Hi the other Francesca its so cool to find someone else that has the same name as me!!!!! 🙂
    Thanks Francesca!

  • john jarmain

    I have been fascinated by the Abbey since the first time I glimpsed it in the mid 1960s. I would love to have been able to explore its interior. Shame about the condition of its neighboring homes and demolition of one of them. Over the years I have taken many photos and made a number of sketches of the Abbey – it is a fantasy house to me!!

  • Localnotes

    Hello,
    we are filming a documetary Tv Series at present we would love to interview those who resided in “The Abbey” who are willing to participate on giving your memories and recollections on Camera just as you have done so here, we would love to document the history of the house it’s tennants and memories and including the myths surrounding the estate, this is what the episode would contain.

    if anyone could help out it would be much appreciated, also if anyone knows who or how to contact the current owners of the house, you can contact me at http://www.AustraliasMostHaunted.com use the links to contact us or email me Joe at this address Panavision@bigpond.com

    i would like to state that we are not into exposing “The Abbey” as a Haunted house we are hoping to capture the essence of the building, it’s history and not to expose this fine building as mereley Haunted by rumours and urban legends.
    Time frame for this series is critical to be added to the schedule so a quick response would be very welcomed. (Date now July 24th 2012 )

  • […] And just to reinforce that this house has seen so many family, friends, visitors who have had the privelage of either growing up in The Abbey or being a temporary resident.  Here are some letters from actual tenants who have lived at The Abbey over the course of her 133 years of existence, regaling their tales and experiences of their time on Johnston Street.  The Abbey, Johnston Street […]

  • […] And just to reinforce that this house has seen so many family, friends, visitors who have had the privelage of either growing up in The Abbey or being a temporary resident.  Here are some letters from actual tenants who have lived at The Abbey over the course of her 133 years of existence, regaling their tales and experiences of their time on Johnston Street.  The Abbey, Johnston Street […]

  • Douglas Stuart

    My 1860, Victorian Oak dining table and 12 chairs is coming onto the market as a deceased estate.
    The table is 3.3 metres long (10 foot)with 12 chairs covered in orange suede (restored 2004).
    It is a stunningly beautiful setting that would be right at home in The Abbey
    Please contact me so I can send you a photo….as it has the WOW factor
    Doug 0418164185

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