Sunday, 21 September 2008

Tempe House - then and now (Tempe House Tour Part 8)

To finish this series about Tempe House I was keen to take some photos from similar vantage points from which 19th century artists depicted it. These were taken from Kendrick Park in Tempe, across the Cooks River.

Many people and heritage organisations argue that the Wolli Creek development has ruined the context and setting of Tempe House, and I agree. Others say that, sadly, it was the only way the house could be preserved at all. That is probably true too. In the 1990s the state government was lobbied to buy the site and restore the house, as the only one of its architect, Verge, still in its original setting, with no bulk behind. They declined.

I think it is such a shame that a development of this size and bulk was presented as the only option. Sadly, in Sydney, developers are allowed to extract every cent they can. Promises were also made that there would be public access, including the parkland sweeping down to the river, but it has never been open as far as I know, and the house, while beautifully restored by renowned heritage architectures is sitting unused and inaccessible (other than to curious bloggers who scramble up rock faces, scale walls and straddle fences...and to the owners of the apartments who have private access through electronic codes on gates.)

Postscript: This afternoon I went into the city to see an exhibition at the Museum of Sydney called Lost Gardens of Sydney. The garden of Tempe House is one of those featured.

Below: Taken 18 Sep 2008

Below: Cooks River Tempe House by Conrad Martens, 1838

Below: 18 September 2008

Below: Tempe House by Samuel Elyard, 1836
Below: Cooks River with Tempe House by James Clarke. I couldn't get a similar vantage point because the railway bridge now runs at the right, and the river is obscured by trees in the park


  1. This is such an interesting post, Sally. Good on you for scambling up and down dale!

    Tempe House is dwarfed by the development. Bugger Frank Sartor and all who sail with him!!

  2. How fabulous to see the today and then the old paintings of the same - or almost - vantage point. Well done. You must have had the best fun doing this. I love the way your trees frame your photographs - particularly in the second one.

  3. Good idea these photos of the same place taken in several dates

  4. Interesting post, Sally. I like these comparisons. I wonder what happened to the dandelions.

  5. It's so interesting to see the before and after photos. I agree that the development is far from pleasing to the eye. It's hard, or maybe not depending on how cynical you are, to understand how city councils allow it to happen.
    Nice is full of appalling apartment blocks that were rushed up under the regime of Jacques Medecin(later jailed for corruption)

  6. I can imagine the mixed emotions that this caused people there. On the one hand, you want the house preserved and on the other hand, the only way to do it is to have that huge development. Nothing is ever simple…

  7. Those are just the sort of images I was reminded of by yesterday's post.

    Great job Sally.

  8. Much as I hate that development, it probably was the only way the house was going to be saved. Great series.

  9. That was very, very cool. very.

  10. What a great collection of images and amazing photos! Loved the history too.
    I went inside Tempe House today, just missed the talk, but had the historian answer all my questions while we walked around the rooms.
    It was so fun, if you didn't go today you should go next time!