Monday, 15 September 2008

Tempe House (Tempe House Tour Part 2)

Yesterday we were at the back of Tempe House, looking between the church and house. Today we look back in the other direction.

The house was built for a wealthy and successful Scottish émigré, Alexander Brodie Spark. After achieving business success in London, Spark applied to emigrate to Australia, and arrived in Tasmania on 21 January 1823. Finding that not to his liking, he moved on to Sydney where he arrived on 17 February 1823. He opened a general store in George St, and eventually moved into wool exportation, and owned a ship. He was a major shareholder in the Bank of Australia.

On 10 August 1826, Spark purchased 110 acres of land on the south bank of the Cook’s River. The only way to cross the river was by boat. Spark had a private boatman, “Old Willy”.

Brodie was a great entertainer, and it soon became apparent that the cottage on the site was inadequate, so in 1834 he commissioned John Verge to design an arcadian villa with resemblance to a Greek temple. Verge was a major colonial architect, responsible also for Elizabeth Bay House and Camden Park at Menangle. Verge also designed Spark’s previous home, Tusculum, at Potts Point.

Tempe was completed in 1836, and Brodie made it his permanent home, leasing Tusculum, to the Anglican Bishop of Sydney.

Behind Tempe House (where we were yesterday)there was an orchard, greenhouse, shrubbery and gardener’s cottage. On the river he constructed a rococo bathing house. I'll feature the river in a later post, though, sadly, the bathing house is no more!


  1. It all looks a bit souless at the moment (certainly from the aspect in yesterday's post). Hope they do breathe some life into the place. I guess we should count our blessings that they didn't pull it all down.

  2. Mr. Spark liked a very illustrious life. I wonder if people today can still do that, ie. buying up huge parcels of land, building mansions and owning a ship.

    Well, okay...maybe Bill Gates did that to some extend.

  3. To respond to your question, yes the photo from today was taken in Queens, where I live.

    I was heading to work (further into Queens, away from Manhattan) and I noticed the clear view of Manhattan from atop the subway station. Normally, the view is hazy due to pollution, smog and dust.

    NYC has a high incidence of asthma among children because of the poor air quality. :-(

  4. Looks pretty. I like those green, leafy things!

  5. I'm always curious about people who build such grandiose homes with pillars, columns, etc. Must have a grandiose lifestyle.