GOVERNMENT HOUSE - THE DOMAIN OF GOVERNORS PAST
The first Governor's residence in New South Wales was a portable canvas house brought by Captain Arthur Phillip from England on the First Fleet in January 1788. A two storey residence soon replaced this and served as a home to the first nine Governors – from Phillip to Gipps. It is now the site of the Museum of Sydney.
In 1816 Governor Macquarie commissioned architect Francis Greenway to design a grand residence and stables in the castellated style. Macquarie's passion for building was considered extravagant of his administration and he was prevented by the bean counter of the day (Lord Bathurst) from building a new home.
It wasn't until 1834, under Governor Sir Richard Bourke, that the plan to construct a new residence was approved. It was requested that an 'eminent architect' be engaged and the commission was awarded to Edward Blore, architect to King William IV. Blore's plans were modified by the Colonial Architect Mortimer Lewis and the building was constructed between 1837 and 1845.
Government House with its crenellated battlements and turrets is the most sophisticated example of a Gothic Revival building in early colonial New South Wales. Its interiors, largely redecorated in the late 19th century are of exceptional importance.
In 1996 the NSW Government opened Government House to the public. Since then hundreds of thousands of people have taken the opportunity to visit the grounds and to tour the house.
The ground floor State Rooms – the dining room, drawing room and ballroom – contain an outstanding collection of 19th century and early 20th century furnishings reflecting the changes of style and the differing tastes of the governors and their wives.
Although the Governor now resides away from Government House, it continues to be used for official receptions, dinners and investitures
In 2007, the house received the most significant refurbishment in 25 years under the To Furnish the Future project. Five leading Australian artists and designers; Caroline Casey, Cecilia Heffer, Valerie Kirk, Liz Williamson and Charles Wilson were awarded commissions by the HHT to collaborate in the first stage of this exciting project that involves a team of consultants and has been several years in the planning. The HHT commissioned contemporary designed carpet, furniture, lace, upholstery and other furnishing textiles to complement the historic interiors of the two drawing rooms, with their 1879 surviving original painted ceiling decoration by Lyon, Cottier & Co. and rich collection of original furniture, paintings and objects.
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