Dalwood House, Branxton NSW

One of my favourite buildings in NSW, Dalwood House, a Greek revival villa built in 1830 by George and Margaret Wyndham on their estate at Branxton in the Hunter Valley. The Dalwood vineyard which is part of The Wyndham Estate is said to be the oldest continually running vineyard in Australia.

Being an unfinished building, there is no known architect. It is said that George Wyndham himself probably designed the building as he would have observed the construction of Phillips House, his family's Greek revival mansion built in 1816 at Dinton in Wiltshire to the designs of the great English architect Sir Jeffry Wyatville. Dalwood is an expansive single-storey villa built in the Greek Revival style, reminiscent of Phillips House at Dinton. Consisting of a long central block facing south with a wing each end and two rear wings projecting northwards to form a courtyard. The central pavilion, facing the river, opens through a symmetrically positioned pair of French doors onto a beautiful diamond pattern flagstone verandah with a shingle roof supported by fine timber columns. A pair of Doric stone columns dominate the recessed porch of the eastern wing. The external walls feature dressed coursed stone. Finely detailed gable pediments and corbelled parapets conceal an early attempt at flat roof construction. The roofs were formed by a 15 centimetre layer of earth on timber slabs and water-proofed with a 3 to 5 cm topping mixture of lime, oxblood and tar. After failing, a shingle covered pitched roof was built, being replaced later with corrugated iron.

Local stone was used for the construction of the exterior walls, internal mantlepieces and the Doric columns of the porch. The stone is a very fine grained sandstone or mudstone, quarried at nearby Black Creek over which a bridge was specially constructed enabling the stone to be brought to Dalwood. The bricks for the internal walls of the house, farm buildings and lining the wells were fired on site. The red cedar used for the fine joinery was cut from trees on Mr. Edward Cory's "Gostwyck" on the nearby Paterson River and brought by dray to Dalwood in 1830. Red cedar was also used to make the wine casks at Dalwood. This house is right up there with the best, it fell into disrepair and recently has been undergoing a careful conservation / restoration. www.dalwood.org.au