It is rare to come across a luxurious estate brimming with historical significance whilst maintaining its architectural integrity like this manor on Elizabeth Bay, in Sydney. This palatial realty, Tresco is 3300 square metres, which is 14 times the size of an average stand alone house.
The original design was imagined in 1867 by leading architect and first mayor of Manly, Thomas Rowe. The manor comprised of two stories and 13 rooms, and consisted of sandstone with a slate roof. The manor also featured a coach house, stable and garden.
Highly acclaimed Sydney architect, George Wesgarth was responsible for the major alterations to the residence in 1883, including an extensive east wing and a second floor to the kitchen wing. He also enhanced the garden landscape by the addition of a summerhouse, fernery, a boat house and a boat pond. According to the NSW Government Office of Environment and Heritage, the estate is a “rare example of the fine residences that once characterised Macleay Point.”
In 1913, Tresco became the official residence of the Royal Australian Naval support commander and as a representational house for entertaining for almost a century. Between 1991-1997, Tresco was conserved and restored considerably by conservation architects Otto Cserhalmi and Partners. Tresco became privately owned in 2004, where it was sold for $11 million by Janette and David Waterhouse.
Tresco was the prime location for a myriad of opulent gatherings that would feature in the newspapers, gushing over details of flower arrangements or recounts of the high-profile guests. The estate’s most notorious visitor was Prince Philip, who was the guest of honour at the Royal Australian Navy’s 75th birthday celebration in 1986. A report in the Daily Telegraph disclosed a period where the residence was “practically given over to the small people” for a children’s party in 1923.
“Potato races, slipper races, musical chairs (with prizes) for all, followed by tea served in the billiards room filled the hours very happily for the little ones,” the report detailed.
Prior to the manor being placed on the market in late 2017 it has undergone extensive alterations, including transcending the interiors into the modern era, converting the stables into a home office and climate controlled wine cellar, as well as the addition of a single bedroom apartment above the garage. Despite the substantial updates, the manor continues to emulate the early Victorian Italianate architecture with its traditional sandstone exterior and slate roof.
With an approximate floor area of 454 square metres, the two-storey residence consists of eight bedrooms, a private master wing, regal entertaining rooms and two studies or a dressing room. Tresco also possesses a self-contained two-bedroom caretaker’s flat, high ceilings, a conservatory-style sunroom, a library, and two chef’s kitchens.
The expansive land Tresco occupies, incorporates waterfront facilities including a private sea pool, a heated infinity pool, three deepwater moorings, a jetty and a boat house. The panoramic view of the uninterrupted Northern Sydney harbour, Clark Island and the Manly skyline can be enjoyed in the classically constructed gazebo or under a towering heritage-listed Moreton Bay fig tree. The exceptional landscape also encompasses two courtyards to the rear of the house that are separated by a high brick wall. Elements of Victorian fashion was utilised to construct the summer house, fernery and flowerbeds.
The manor itself is permeated with traditional Victorian-Italianate features that have been preserved as a testament to its extensive history. This includes bay windows, cast-iron balcony balustrades, a turned timber staircase, and original marble fireplaces.
Tresco is expected to be $20 million more than the penthouse in Melbourne’s St Moritz development at an exorbitant price of $50 million. However, co-agents Brad Pillinger, of Pillinger, and Ken Jacobs, of Christie’s International, are remaining discreet about their price guide.
Brimming with 150 years of history, Tresco estate is an exceptionally rare piece of luxury.
By Sian McCaffery