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From the Balmain Tram, c1883. Harvey, John Henry, 1855-1938, photographer. ( page 15, SLV)
The Abbey is one of a group of large houses, which would become known as the "witches houses", built by John Young, adjoining his property, Kentville at the Northern End of Johnston Street. Young bought the land which had been previously purchased, from Young's Sydney Freehold Company, by the architect Blackman who built Oybin at 270 Johnston Street in 1880. The Heritage listing goes on to mention that a small building on the site was incorporated into the larger buildings constructed in 1881-2. Young was a mason and the Abbey incorporates masonic symbols and layout. This indicates it may have been built as a Masonic Lodge rather than a residence.
The Abbey was a "superior boarding house" and a private school was run in the mezzanine above the stables. Maurice Aron and Parnell Johnson were living at the Abbey in 1901. Heritage listing
In 1903, Claudia Petrea and Thora Adolfine Emilie Brooke registered a Private School and Private Boarding Establishment in The Abbey ( records.nsw.gov.au (09813[2/8534] & 09284[2/8533]))
John Young died in 1907 leaving his son Frederick and son-in-law Sylvanus Patridge Reynolds as trustees for his Estate. They subdivided the Abbey into a number of residences. Sarah O’Brien and her married daughters and children were living there in 1916, Ernest Warren and his wife lived at the abbey from 1924-31, when his wife died in a tragic car accident. Warren converted the building including the ballroom into flats and flattetes. Heritage listing
"Most of my life I have wanted someone to take an interest in the beautiful building called the abbey..." - Inquiry into The National Estate - The Abbey Johnson Street Annandale NSW - Submission by Miss F Granquist 10 September 1973 NAA: A3956, 1973/208 Digitised version includes drawings but not the photographs mentioned in Mis Granquist's covering letter.
Christina Stead lived her last few years in Annandale and died at the Abbey on 31 March 1983 - Movers and Shakers
The house was subdivided and turned into flats in 1924. The grand old dame was rescued by Sydney surgeon Geoffrey Lancelot Davis, who paid £4500 cash for the house in 1959. Dr Davis leased out the flats to folksy artists while he began a lifetime of work to restore the creation. During the acid-dropping, folk singing 1970s, ghost hunters would brave the night with ectoplasmic machines. - Mysterious and Spooky, The Abbey Family (May 22, 2009)
On 21st April 2012, Barbara a Town Planner, happened to mention she attended a Sydney Push party or two at the Abbey in the 1950s. She also worked on the Cumberland Plan. She recalled The Bushwhackers band, Kep Enderby's parties and the beginnings of the Council for Civil Liberties in Balmain.
Bridget wrote to clarify that "The Bushwhacker's Band", Barbara remembered was the heart of the Sydney Bush Music Club, and the band that played for Reedy River at the Sydney New Theatre. It should not be confused with the The Bushwackers Band which played at the Empire Hotel, corner of Parramatta and Johnston Street, Annandale, on Tuesday 24 April 2012.
DAVIS Geoffrey Lancelot Rutter (1958 Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (Faculty of Medicine alumni)
Geoffrey's father Lancelot Davis bought the Abbey for his son in 1959 for £4500. Geoffrey's stepdaughter Francesca Davis recalls moving in with her brother and mother Daune, who had just married Mr Davis -Mixed emotions as The Abbey goes up for sale(19 May 09).
In 1980, Davis registered a patent "PHARMACEUTICAL COMPOSITIONS" - http://www.patentlookup.com.au/patents/398751
"MEDICAL DISCIPLINARY TRIBUNAL
DEPUTY CHAIRMAN HIS HONOUR JUDGE WARD, QC
MEMBERS DR G MARCAR and DR F HINDE
In re: Geoffrey Lancelot Rutter DAVIS
Complaint was made pursuant to Section 27 (1) of the Medical Practitioners Act, 1938, as amended, Secretary of the Health Department of New South Wales against Dr Geoffrey Davis, that he has been guilty of misconduct respect. The particulars related to two to as Mrs X and Mrs Y.
After a lengthy hearing before the investigating committee some of the particulars were deleted and in final form they were as follows:
As regards Mrs X
1. Dr Geoffrey Davis failed to advise and inform Mrs X of the Medical risks associated with a second trimester abortion.
2. Dr Geoffrey Davis failed to ensure Mrs X was given proper and adequate medical attention following her admission to Population Services International Clinic, Kings Cross on 16 February, 1982, in particular;
(ii) a medical practitioner was not present and consulted in relation to Mrs X's persistent complaints of pain after dilation
(iii) failure to ensure adequate post-operative assessment and care"....http://www.mcnsw.org.au/resources/513/Davis.pdf
re: Geoffrey Lancelot Rutter DAVIS - MEDICAL DISCIPLINARY TRIBUNAL (1982)
"Dr Geoffrey Davis, friends of Bangladesh and a great Savior of thousands of Bengali women raped by the Pakistani Army during our Liberation War in 1971, has passed away on Friday the 3rd October 2008." - www.priyoaustralia.com.au
A Marquee was setup for the auction, on the northern side of the Abbey. The barbeque below was doing a brisk trade as people milled around viewing the contents of the Abbey.
Following Davis' death, the contents of the Abbey were auctioned on 23-4 May 2009.
The auction viewing attracted a large crowd, local historians, bloggers and twitterers. Entry to the viewing was by a Gold Coin donation to the Annandale Historical Society.
The Abbey contents included a C19th Sebastian Erard Patent Harp, John Broadwood & Sons London walnut cased parlour Grand Piano, 33rpm and 78rpm Jazz records, books on a variety of topics including birds, art, architecture and encyclopedias. There was a volume on the history of the Sydney Water Board, by Henry and another book about William Morris.
Rooms which were not lined with shelves of books were lined with shelves of records and edison cylinders. There were cameras, projectors, phonographs, gramaphones and horns in all sizes. There were sewing machines, cabinets and paintings.
One of the books, provided a history of the Sydney Waterboard (now Sydney Water)
Chapter 1 - The Board - Its Constitution, responsibilities and procedure
For the first 54 years from the foundation of settlement in 1788, the water supply of the township of Sydney was a Government responsibility. This duty first consisted, as will be seen later, in the protection of the purity of the main source of supply, viz. - the Tank Stream, on and along whose banks the township was located, and when this became no longer possible, in bringing water from the Lachlan Swamps (situated in what is now Centennial Park) by tunnelto Hyde Park, whence supplies were drawn off from a standard into water carts and other recepticles for distribution.
In 1842, an Act (6 Vic. No. 3) was passed, incorporating the township of Sydney as a City and providing for the administration of its services by a municipal council. The control of the water supply and the responsibility for providing sewerage and drainage (which had hither to received practically no attention) then became a function of this body, and remained so, except for a brief... - The Water Supply and Sewerage of Sydney, Henry, F. J. J. (Ferdinand Joseph James)(1939)
"With crumbling walls, untamed ivy and rooms so damp they were misty, restoring the legendary Abbey in Annandale was never going to be a weekend reno."..A tour of the refurbished Annandale Abbey, SMH, May 15, 2015
Images of 2015 Restoration at http://www.imagesforbusiness.com.au/annandale-abbey-restoration-wins-australian-institute-of-architects-greenway-award-for-2015/
The Abbey wins 2015 NSW Architecture Awards winners GREENWAY AWARD
January 2017: "Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry takes us through her Gothic mansion, ‘The Abbey’ in Annandale, Sydney." ...more (includes video)
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