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!