Bid to protect Stroud House with State heritage listing

Secretary of the Stroud Heritage Conservation Trust Daphne Dobbyn in front of Stroud House. Picture: Simone De Peak
Secretary of the Stroud Heritage Conservation Trust Daphne Dobbyn in front of Stroud House. Picture: Simone De Peak

SOME of the most influential pioneers in Stroud's history have called the iconic Stroud House home.

Now its latest caretaker, Dr Jonathan King and his wife, Jane, are on a quest to have the building listed on the State Heritage Register to ensure it is preserved indefinitely.

The National Trust and NSW Office of Environment and Heritage staff who assessed the house and were impressed with its "remarkable character" have supported the application.

The NSW Heritage Council must now throw its opinion into the mix and make a recommendation to the state government.

Dr King, a prominent historian, is the fourth-generation member of his family to live in the Georgian-colonial style home.

The first was Admiral Phillip Parker King, the son of NSW governor Philip Gidley King, who came to Australia as a second lieutenant of HMS Sirius with the First Fleet in 1788.

Phillip Parker King became a director of the Australian Agricultural Company after he left the navy and was based in Stroud to manage the company's affairs out west.

His son Philip Gidley King, who was named after his grandfather, worked for the same company as the Superintendent of Flocks.

He lived in Stroud House for 10 years with his wife, Elizabeth, and their children and went on to represent the area as a politician.

The house hasn't been altered since Phillip Parker King had it extended in 1839 and it still boasts the original herringbone brick pattern, 4.3-metre ceilings and red cedar joinery.

"The house has been preserved so well because the people who lived there were either too poor to do anything to it, or too respectful of the building to make any changes to it," Dr King said.

The Kings sit in front of the same open fireplace and use the same rooms as Dr King's ancestors.

"It's as if the walls contain the stories and if you are quiet they are revealed to you. We've got their journals and we can imagine them sitting around the open fireplace and writing about their lives," Dr King said.

The Kings bought the property in 2003 from Stroud teacher Rosemary Neville, who spent 50 years there and was its longest private owner.

An invitation to join a fundraising campaign to restore St Johns Church drew Dr King to Stroud and led him to meet Mrs Neville, who was part of the committee.

Mrs Neville looked upon the Kings as the next caretakers because of Dr King's family connection to it and their passion for history.

Mrs King said the experience was undoubtedly "a spirit-led journey".

"It's like a relay race and we're just holding the baton for the moment. It's so important that after my wife and I go it is looked after in the future . . . We want to hand it over to the community.

"Once it is listed it means it will be in public hands and we can't change it and no other owner can change it."

Stroud House's first commissioner, Robert Dawson, chose the site and started building it.

Sir Edward Parry, who took over in the early 1830s, was unhappy with the house and had Thomas Laman, who built St John's Church, redesign it.

Mr Laman transformed the house into what it is today, with the help of convicts who were locked up in the cellars at night so they could not escape.