Sydney fashionable villas, 1830s | State Library of New South Wales

Sydney's fashionable villas of the 1830s

Colonial Regency

The increasing wealth of the colony in the 1830s was reflected in the construction of Regency style villas, built for well-to-do pastoralists, civil servants and merchants.

John Verge was Sydney's most prominent and fashionable architect of the 1830s. He gained a clientele of influential citizens including John Macarthur, William Charles Wentworth and Colonial Secretary Alexander Macleay. Some of his finest designs survive for the enjoyment of Sydneysiders and visitors today - such as Elizabeth Bay House, Tusculum and Rockwall at Potts Point, and Camden Park on the Macarthur Estate.

Villas of Darlinghurst

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The area extending from Potts Point to Kings Cross and up to Oxford Street in Sydney is today a diverse, colourful and densely populated hub. So it's amazing to think that this area was once an exclusive enclave reserved for a small number of wealthy and influential citizens.

In 1828 Governor Ralph Darling ordered the subdivision of Woolloomooloo Hill (Darlinghurst) into suitable 'town allotments' for large residences and extensive gardens. The allotments were then granted to selected citizens, ensuring that the colony's growing professional middle class should live in an area not too distant from the town.

Today only five of the original villas still stand, although the legacy of other early houses remains in streets around Potts Point, Darlinghurst and Kings Cross. The ... Allotments ... consisting of from 8 to 10 Acres each, were granted by me principally to Gentlemen in the Service of Government, for the purpose of enabling them to provide themselves with a residence and have the benefit of a Garden. [Governor Ralph Darling, 26 March 1828]

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