CHAPEL HOUSE

16_Chapel_House

This property, located about a kilometre from the centre of the village, has had several lives.

Being one of the most famous buildings in the district, the property known as Chapel House, had its origin with the Queen Victoria Inn, built in the 1830s. The complex of buildings is a mix of Colonial, Georgian, Federation and Bungalow Styles.

Its second Innkeeper was Henry Rotton whom became licensee in 1839. He was known as a keen businessman, acquired great wealth and became a member of Parliament for Hartley 1859-1864. His respectable position did not mean he had a completely respectable reputation as he was charged with supplying spirits to convicts through the Queen Victoria Inn. The Inn lost its importance when the road to Mt Lambie was diverted and the railway was pushed beyond Rydal.

Another phase of life for the Inn came when the Franciscan Order purchased the property in 1917 as a seminary known as Mt Alverna and the residential school known as Bonaventure College. It closed in 1925. Ignatius John Doggett, born in Market Street Rydal, who was the first Australian born Franciscan Bishop, was educated here.

David and Ethel Anderson owned the property for a time after they sold the licence of the Alexander Hotel in the 1960s. During their time they called the property Glen Rock after the coalmine Ethel’s father had leased in the Newcastle area.

Mary Hamilton was another well known owner of the property.

Yet another life for Chapel House was when the famous artist John Olsen and his wife lived there for a few years.

Jo & Michael Maxwell owned the property from 1998 to 2018. Jo Maxwell, through her family has the longest connection of all with the Chapel House as Jo, through her mother, Ailsa Fulton, is a direct descendant, of Lydia Fulton who was given the land in 1842, on which the Victoria Inn was built.

Lydia was the daughter of Reverend Henry Fulton, an Englishman who had been ordained a Minister of the Church of England of Ireland. However, he was implicated in the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and was sentenced as a political prisoner for transportation to Australia. He arrived on the Minerva on 11 January 1800. By November 1800 he had been given a conditional pardon and by 1808 he had a full pardon. He was made the assistant chaplain to the Hawkesbury area. Fulton supported Captain William Bligh in the Rum Rebellion of 1808.

During Governor Macquarie’s time in the colony, Fulton was made minister in charge of the parish of Richmond and Castlereagh and was a Justice of the Peace. He was a very good scholar and interested in education and a very respected man of the colony. Such is the respect of Henry Fulton in the Hawkesbury area there is even a school named after him, the Henry Fulton Public School Cranebrook.

For services to the ministry in the Hawkesbury area his daughter Lydia was given a grant of land at Rydal.

Although there was certainly a garden at Chapel House when the Maxwells arrived, it has now been transformed into one of the great gardens of the district.