Mudgee-based ADFAS Australian lecturer, John Broadley, will be presenting a lecture on Saturday, April 13 on what is arguably Australia's most significant stately home, Camden Park House at Camden. The house, situated on one of the earliest land grants outside the Sydney region, is still inhabited by descendants of the man who commissioned it - John Macarthur, a controversial figure in the history and politics of colonial New South Wales. Arriving in the colony in 1790, John and his wife, the tolerant and long-suffering Elizabeth, rose to become its leading citizens. John prospered through breeding early strains of merinos, despite being absent from New South Wales for extended periods in the early 1800s, during which time the family interests were more than capably managed by Elizabeth.
In the early 1800s John began to acquire extensive land grants in the Cowpastures, now known as Camden, and in the early 1830s building began on a substantial house which became known as Camden Park House. The architect was John Verge who designed numerous substantial mansions in Sydney and rural New South Wales in the 1830s; his most significant surviving work is Elizabeth Bay House in Sydney.
The house was completed in 1836, two years after the death of John Macarthur, and was occupied by two of his sons James and William. These enterprising brothers developed Camden Park into a showplace through farming, cropping, stockbreeding, horticulture and viticulture; as a result Camden Park had a huge influence on the development of agriculture in Australia. The two brothers lived together all their lives. James was the only one to marry and have children, a daughter Elizabeth, who ultimately inherited the huge Camden Park Estate. She married Arthur Onslow and after her husband's death she adopted the name Macarthur-Onslow for her descendants. Current owner of Camden Park, John Stanham, is Elizabeth Macarthur-Onslow's great-great-grandson, the seventh generation of the family to live there.
The lecture will look at each of the generations who have lived at Camden Park House and then take you on an extensive tour of the house, showcasing how little some aspects of the house have changed over the years. In many respects until relatively recently, life at Camden Park mirrored life at 'Downton Abbey' with an 'upstairs downstairs' structure.
Come and discover the marvellous patina of Camden Park House and its fascinating gardens and outbuildings at John Broadley's lecture at Cudgegong Valley Public School Hall, at 4.30pm, on Saturday, April 13.