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History

A Piece Of Australian History

The European ownership of Retford Park dates from 1821 when Governor Macquarie granted Edward Riley two parcels of land. The property remained in the Riley family until the 1880’s when it was acquired by Samuel Hordern of the respected Hordern family. He named the property Retford Park in recognition of his family links to the town of Retford in England.

Retford Park House was completed in 1887. Keen cattle and horse breeders, Samuel Hordern and his son, Sir Samuel Hordern, equipped the home with complete horse and cattle facilities. Following the death of Samuel Hordern III in 1960, the American Company, King Ranch, purchased the property.

Home Is Where The Heart Is

Philanthropist and media identity, James Fairfax AC, acquired Retford Park House and 20 acres from King Ranch in 1964. He set about redecorating Retford Park House with advice from Leslie Walford and renovating and extending the garden with renowned English landscape architect John Codrington. The pool, pool pavilion and aviaries were designed by eminent Melbourne architect Guilford Bell. Over the years architect Espie Dods added architecturally sympathetic extensions to the home and Melbourne landscape architect David Wilkinson contributed the Knot Garden, the Green Room and the Millennium Canal to Retford Park’s tranquil gardens.

During James Fairfax’s occupancy of Retford Park he has played host to many notable visitors, including members of the British and European royal families, Australian governors general and state governors, prime ministers and high ranking politicians from around the globe, and numerous renowned artists and representatives of arts fraternities worldwide.

The house and garden are valued Australian treasures and they are an important narrative in the development of the Wingecarribee Shire.

Preserving Our Heritage

James Fairfax AC has always believed that Retford Park should be preserved for the enjoyment and benefit of future generations, particularly those of the local district.

Accordingly Mr Fairfax, well recognised for his philanthropic gifts to the arts, medical research and education, has long planned to gift Retford Park for the benefit of the community, and recognised that funding will be needed for the long term maintenance of the property.

In order to achieve this, construction works are underway for a residential development of the land outside the heritage area, the realisation of which will secure the integrity of Retford Park for the pleasure and interest of generations to come.

On 19th April 2016 and in fulfilment of his ambition, Mr Fairfax gifted his historic Retford Park home to the National Trust of Australia and, under the deed executed recently, Mr Fairfax has also pledged to provide for a significant endowment to ensure its ongoing upkeep. This endowment will be generated out of the net proceeds from the sale of the adjoining residential land.

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