Sydney Architecture Images- Gone but not forgotten

Governor's Bathing House Plaque 55 of the Green Plaques


Mrs Darling


Royal Botanic Gardens


Built- late 1820s   Demolished-


Old Colonial Gothick Picturesque




The construction of the bathhouse represents the claim to the expansion of power and privilege of the vice regal position ......the subsequent restriction of views, access to and use of the bath house reflects the decline of the status, power and position of the Governor, and evokes the changing relationship of the colony/nation to the Queens representative.

Governor Philip attempted to establish all the land from the head of Cockle Bay (Darling
Harbour) to the head of Garden Cove (Woolloomooloo Bay) as Crown land.! The first
government farm was established in what is now part of the Royal Botanic Gardens, and
resulted in the naming of Farm Cove. Governor Macquarie formalised the actual
Government Domain by causing a stone wall to be built, marking the southern boundary.
The Government Domain was essentially land used for the Governor and his entourage,
although some limited public use was allowed.

The Governor's Bath House, when built in the late 1820s, was some distance from the First
Government House, but still within its extensive grounds. It was constructed in the popular
Gothic style, which was extensively used in the colony by Governor and Mrs Macquarie
(1809-1822). The two major buildings in the vicinity, Fort Macquarie on Bennelong Point
and the Government House stables, were built in this style. The siting of such buildings
along the rocky and untamed foreshores of Sydney Harbour fulfilled another fashion of the
time, that of the picturesque.

While Governor Macquarie had been chastised for extravagant expenditure on government
buildings, Government House in Sydney needed replacement. Governor Darling arrived in
the Colony in December 1825 with permission to build a new residence. A competition for
the design was held in 1827. Mrs Eliza Darling, like Mrs Macquarie before her, is known
to have been interested in architecture, and she won a prize in this competition.3• It is quite
possible that Mrs Darling designed the Governor's Bath House, possibly with help from her
brother William Dumaresq, the Civil Engineer.

The Governor's Bath House, 1826-1879
The Bath House was built during the governorship of Darling, between 1826 and 1828 or
1829. Information about its construction is found in Darling's despatch of 17th March
1828. This despatch includes several enclosures including reports by the Civil Engineer
William Dumaresq and the Colonial Secretary Alexander Macleay, concerning repairs and
alterations to Government House. The fourth enclosure is a "Report on the Erection of a
Bathing House in the Government Domain":
The Building is constructed entirely of stone found on the spot, having a castellated
appearance to the water to correspond in some degree with Fort Macquarie on
Bennelong's Point, which is in view, and at a short distance.
It consists of three very small dressing rooms, also a room for a watchman, and a
corresponding space, which is a privy