Conservation in action: Vaucluse House turrets

Vaucluse House west turrets stabilisation and conservation works

 

The west side of William Charles Wentworth’s seaside villa, facing the harbour, presents some of the most striking architectural elements of the Vaucluse site.

As part of the Wentworths’ improvements to the estate, this section of the house was built in a Gothic Revival style between the late 1830s and the early 1840s. The design of the exterior detailing was based on Sydney’s Government House and included mullioned windows, two corner turrets, stepped battlements and moulding profiles.

Standing approximately 30 metres above ground level, the beautiful corner turrets, built in gleaming Sydney yellowblock sandstone, would have been visible from any vessel arriving in or leaving the colony, showcasing Wentworth’s status.

Over the years, birds have dropped seeds from local trees onto the turrets, and two young Ficuses have grown within the deteriorated mortar joints of the turret stonework, loosening and separating the top stones.

To restore the structural integrity of the west turrets, the Heritage Team at Sydney Living Museums has engaged specialised structural engineers, stonemasons and conservators to undertake the delicate task of dismantling the top courses of stonework to remove the intrusive vegetation and preserve the stone surfaces for the next 50 years, using traditional materials and methods.

Stay posted for updates as we begin to build the scaffold.

  • View across lawn towards large house with verandah and turrets.

    Front view of Vaucluse House.

    Photo © Kai Leishman / James Horan Pty Ltd for Sydney Living Museums

  • Closer view of house showing turret at edge of house, with verandah below.

    Gothic Revival battlements and turrets at Vaucluse House.

    Photo © Kai Leishman / James Horan Pty Ltd for Sydney Living Museums

  • Looking down onto top of turret from above, with plant growing in stonework.

    Southwest turret, aerial photo.

    Photo © SkyPxl Pty Ltd

  • Looking up at scaffolding from below verandah.

    Construction of scaffold.

    Photo © Artisan of Stone Pty Ltd

About the Author

Woman in yellow vest.
Maria Elena Ruggeri
Heritage Project Officer Capital Works
Maria Elena is the Heritage Project Officer, Capital Works at Sydney Living Museums.