Kings Grove Farm

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Believed to be Kingsgrove farm before 1900.

In 1804, Hannah Laycock was given a grant of land of 500 acres to which she gave the name King's Grove Farm. It was a rectangular block, bounded by Kingsgrove Road; William Street; Bexley Road and a continued line to Preddys Road; and Stoney Creek Road and a continued line back to Preddys Road south of Canonbury Grove.

On Thursday, 13 December 1810, Governor Macquarie and his party visited Mrs. Laycock in the course of an inspection of the farms to the south of the Parramatta Road. In his Journal, Macquarie says that the party arrived at 2.30 p.m. 'at Mrs. Laycock's farm near Cooks River.' The Journal continues: 'We found Mrs. Laycock and her two daughters at home, in a very neat comfortable well-built farm house and well furnished; the good old lady's farm being also in a forward state of improvement in other respects.'

The title to Hannah Laycock's land at Kingsgrove passed to Simeon Lord in 1829, and Lord died in 1840. In 1841, the executors of the estate of Simeon Lord arranged the sale of his land at Kingsgrove in two parts - on 14 May and 17 August.

The first auction on 14 May 1841, was for that part of the original King's Grove Farm between Wolli Creek and Stoney Creek Road, together with the 250 acres to the west of Kingsgrove Road granted to John Townson in 1810, and the 120 acres to the north of William Street granted to Hannah Laycock in 1812. The land is described in an advertisement in 'The Australian' of 11 May 1841, (and earlier dates) and a plan of the lots to be sold, entitled 'Lord's Allotments in the Parish of St George', is held in the Mitchell Library (M2. 811.1853/1841/1). There is no reference to a house or cleared land in the rather fulsome advertisement, and the plan does not show any building or clearing on the lots auctioned on 14 May.

On 17 August 1841, the land between Wolli Creek and William Street was auctioned. The land is described in an advertisement in 'The Australian’ of 7 August 1841, (and other dates) and the Mitchell Library has a surveyor's plan of the lots, entitled 'Field Plan of the Kingsgrove Homestead'. (M2. 811.1851/1841/1) This plan shows an area of cleared land and tracks leading to it from three directions. Within the cleared area is a hut, a small orchard, two areas of corn, an area described as a paddock, two tents and a well. There are no other improvements on any other area. The advertisement says that lots 56 to 64 are chiefly cleared and that 'on 58 and 59 there is a slabbed hut with small orchard and garden.' The advertisement also says that about 60 acres are cleared, although the area marked on the plan seems to be about half of this, that is, about 30 acres. The remainder of the advertisement makes no mention of cleared land or any improvements other than the slabbed hut. Surely cleared land would be of more value than uncleared land, and it is assumed that the cleared area mentioned was the only cleared land on the whole estate. It must be mentioned that advertisements seeking to dispose of Kings Grove in the Sydney Gazette of 2 September 1815, and 12 October 1816, claim respectively that 99 acres and 100 acres were cleared. Whether these are exaggerations or whether some of the forest was allowed to regenerate in the next 25 years can only be guessed at.

The advertisement of 7 August 1841 also makes this significant statement: 'This portion of the estate was selected by the former owner as the best situation as a homestead.' This must be read in association with the title of the plan: 'Field Plan of the Kingsgrove Homestead'. Earlier in the advertisement, it is stated that the sale was on the instructions of Lord's executors, and the words 'the former owner' may refer to him. However, Lord owned extensive areas of land and was well established in the city of Sydney. It probably refers to the owner prior to Lord - that is, to Hannah Laycock.

The 'homestead' was presumably on the cleared area shown on the surveyor's plan. The fact that tracks led to the cleared area from three directions tend to confirm this. However, although the hut was the only structure on the whole estate in 1841, it is not clear whether the hut was, in fact, the 'homestead', and without further evidence in support, it is impossible to claim a connection between the hut and the farm house described by Macquarie in 1810. I believe that the advertisements and plans indicate that Mrs Laycock's farm house was in the vicinity of the cleared land existing in 1841. Translated to the present day, the hut was situated at the north eastern corner of the Rosemeath Avenue and Homer Street intersection, and the cleared area was bounded roughly by Homer Street, Killara Avenue, across to Thomas Street, and along Proctor Avenue.

The land auctioned in May 1841, realised 6000 pounds. However, the second auction in August appears to have been unsuccessful. There is no mention of the result of the sale in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian or the Monitor, and plans and references in subsequent years seem to confirm that the land was not sold in 1841.

Sources

Madden, B. (1978). Possible Location of Hannah Laycock's Farm House at Kingsgrove". Canterbury and District Historical Society Journal, Series 2, No. 10.