Place Details

Send Feedback

Duntroon House, Harrison Rd, Campbell, ACT, Australia

Photographs View Photo Database Record View Photo Database Record View Photo Database Record View Photo Database Record View Photo Database Record View Photo Database Record
List Register of the National Estate (Non-statutory archive)
Class Historic
Legal Status Registered (21/03/1978)
Place ID 13254
Place File No 8/01/000/0001
Statement of Significance
Fine example of an early Colonial Homestead. Important historical associations with Robert Campbell, the well known merchant from Sydney who built the original house in 1833 and died there in 1846. The property remained in the Campbell family until 1910 when the house and some of the property were acquired for the establishment of the Military College.

(The Commission is in the process of developing and/or upgrading official statements for places listed prior to 1991. The above data was mainly provided by the nominator and has not yet been revised by the Commission.)
Official Values Not Available
Description
Background and architectural description:
Original part (now the south wing of the present building) was a single storey cottage with surrounding verandah. House extended in 1862 with a two storey wing and servants' quarters followed by stables, lodges and other outbuildings. These were designed by Mrs. Marianne Campbell.
Background:
The first Europeans to enter the area of the Limestone Plains were Joseph Wild, James Vaughan and Charles Throsby Smith. The party camped near the present day site of Duntroon on 7 December 1820.
Duntroon's infancy is attributed to a leading Sydney merchant of the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century, Robert Campbell. Campbell was a descendant of a younger branch of the Campbells of Duntroon Castle in Argyllshire, Scotland. Curiously, Robert Campbell, the first owner of the property on which Australia's first Staff Cadets were to be trained nearly eighty-six years later, is referred to as a Cadet of Duntroon on his memorial tablet, dated 1846, in St Phillip's Church, Sydney. He is also remembered today for warehouses on Sydney Cove which he established in association with his import business. In compensation for the loss of his ship Sydney, while it was on Government service, Campbell was (after an eighteen year wait) awarded a land grant of 4,000 acres at Limestone Plains in 1825 which he took up and had James Ainslie (his shepherd) settle there. The grant originally known as Pialligo was supplemented with a purchase grant in 1827 and additional grants in 1830 and 1832. Although Robert Campbell continued to live in Sydney he authorised the construction of the first substantial homestead at Duntroon in 1833. The one storey Georgian structure was known as Limestone Cottage. Convict and non-convict masons reportedly trekked for three weeks from Sydney before constructing the building from local stone. The cottage was situated on a small flat terrace, looking across the Molonglo River to the south-east. It was almost symmetrical about a central hall, with a verandah wrapping around three sides of the house. A separate kitchen and servants' room were built approximately sixteen feet (4.5m) to the rear of the house. Both buildings were constructed of random bond stone, the external walls being about 560mm thick, while the interior walls are about 350mm thick. The original homestead had a shingle roof pitched at about twenty-seven degrees, with a U-shaped ridge about a central valley gutter to the rear. The angle of the verandah roof has been changed several times during its lifetime.
Dr John Lhotsky, a Polish scientist who lead an expedition to the Snowy Mountains (the Snowies), passed through the area in 1834 wrote of Limestone Cottage in his diary. He described it as a '...clean, romantic little house, overhung with vines' and '...the last one with window panes and such like comforts, as it were at the end of the world'. Campbell's influence in the district was substantial. An outstation at Mugga Mugga was established from 1838 and St John's Church and Schoolhouse in Reid owe their inception to him. Charles Campbell, the third son of Robert Campbell, managed the property from 1835 to 1854, although the ownership of Duntroon passed to the fourth son, George, on the death of their father in 1846. Robert Campbell in fact died in the gardens in 1846. In the same year the house became known as Duntroon after the family castle in Scotland. In 1854 George Campbell married Marianne Collinson Close of Morpeth, New South Wales and took up residence at Duntroon. Marianne took a great interest in the house and was responsible for changing it from a small cottage to a fashionable country house. She designed the two storey Victorian Gothic extension to the house in 1862, as well as many of the cottages and outbuildings on the property. Many of the picturesque outbuildings, designed in the Victorian Gothic style that characterise the Duntroon campus today date from this period of improvement. These are contained in her household book and appear to be drawn from J C Loudon's Encyclopaedia of Cottage, Farm and Villa Architecture (seven editions from 1833 to 1869). Gothic architecture historian Joan Kerr has suggested that Alberto Dias Soares, the Queanbeyan Anglican Minister, a former architect and engineer, may have turned her sketches into reality.
The 1862 extensions include bedrooms, nurseries, breakfast room, morning room, servants' hall and a cellar. A study and library were provided for George Campbell and at the rear of the house a conservatory was built. Other improvements at that time include stables and lodges. The extensions were brick and stone and both stonework and carved bargeboards indicate an increasing level of affluence and skills available in the local region. In 1876 a number of changes were made to the house. The dining room was enlarged by removing a wall between the original dining room and one of the original bedrooms (later used as an ante room). The pantry wall was removed and the pantry, together with the existing store room, converted into a servery. A more spacious drawing room was created by removing the fireplace wall between the original drawing room and an original bedroom. Further alterations were made to the servants' quarters, a common room and separate store were added and a day nursery and guest rooms were added upstairs. The greenhouse was replaced with a conservatory and a potting shed. The conservatory had an unusual conical glass roof. The new wing was altered slightly in 1876 on the western side. Steps were built in front of the library bay window, leading to the gardens. In addition new awnings were provided to the north and south of the library. These awnings were slightly higher than the earlier awnings and supported by cast iron columns.
Garden development, including the maze, commenced in 1854 and the guard houses marking the entries to the home paddock were built. Another cottage (Blundell's) was built further down the river for the estate's head ploughman. A portion of 111 acres of the estate was set aside as glebe land for the rector of St John's in 1864. George and Marianne Campbell went to live in England in 1876 while their children were being educated. George died in England in 1881 and Marianne returned to live at Duntroon until her death in 1903.
There were very few changes to the external appearance of the building after 1876. All windows and French doors originally had shutters. Perhaps the most noticeable was the corrugated iron roof, although some of the original timber shingles remain on it. The history of the roofing at Duntroon is quite interesting as it represents developing roofing technologies.
After the death of Marianne in 1903 the old home was broken up. A sale of plant and furniture items took place at Duntroon on 31 October 1906 and the house was left vacant until the Royal Military College development commenced in 1910.
A plan of the Duntroon Estate as it stood at the end of the Campbell era shows the house at the centre of a collection of outbuildings of various sizes. A winding drive extends north -east of the house past a maze to a barn and lodge. Clockwise from the east of the house is found a fish pond, then a summerhouse with an apple house and a cottage south of the house. Continuing in a clockwise motion around the house is located the Manager's residence, kitchen garden and stables. The hay shed is to the west, then the poultry house, a cottage and stable with coachhouse. Finally, to the north of the house are the tennis courts, an aviary and wild garden.
The history of the Royal Military College commenced from the Federation of the six Australian Colonies in January 1901. On 7 April 1902 the first Commander of the Australian Military Forces, Major General Sir Edward Hutton recommended that a military college be established along the lines of the United States Military Academy at West Point, the Royal Military College at Kingston in Canada and the great public schools of England.
Duntroon was the first of all the Australian military colleges and was the first established in Canberra being opened on 27 June 1911. Duntroon House needed renovating throughout. It provided single quarters for officers, the officers' mess and ante room with kitchen and servants' quarters, offices for the Commandant, the Director of Military Art, the adjutant, accountant and clerks and a room for the college library. The old stables were altered and extended to house the electric light and refrigerating plants and the laundry. The barn was used for storing vehicles and forage.
From 1911 there was a need to acquire additional land to that originally leased. This was finally resolved in 1912 when the Commonwealth Gazette No 49 of 27 July 1912 gave details of land acquired, which included Duntroon.
World War One interrupted the building program but Duntroon provided a vital role in training troops for the war. The College was connected to the Canberra Power House in August 1915. After the war development was slow. The 1928-29 Report states that: 'Buildings which were thrown together hurriedly to meet the sudden decision to open the College in 1911' were in poor condition by the '...ravages of white ants and borers' and with Canberra's climate their '...construction is unsuitable'.
At the onset of the depression in 1930, the College was transferred to Victoria Barracks in Sydney. In 1936 it was resolved to bring the College back to Duntroon. The reopening on 19 October 1937 saw a new parade ground and impressive buildings around them, reflecting Canberra's Federal Architecture.
During World War Two Duntroon Military College performed a vital role in training troops. In the 1980s, the Australian Defence Force Academy was established just north of Duntroon and a major architectural redevelopment began on the Military College. By the early 1980s, the house remained intact except for new parquetry floors. Following a report in April 1983 by Philip Cox and Partners Pty Ltd for the Department of Housing and Construction, the building had extensive work executed on the external fabric. The conservation work included restoration, reconstruction, preservation and adaptation and was completed in 1984. The conservation work has made Duntroon House more historically accurate and better presented than it has been for many years.

Refer to the record for Duntroon House and Gardens RNE no 13255
History Not Available
Condition and Integrity Not Available
Location
Harrison Road, Duntroon, Campbell.
Bibliography Not Available

Report Produced  Tue Jul 15 00:34:29 2014