Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Instagram
 

Booloominbah is one of the largest private country houses built in Australia during the 19th century

David Goran
During World War I between 1916 and 1919 it became an important centre as a Red Cross convalescent home for wounded men. Source

Booloominbah is a late Victorian mansion situated at the University of New England in Armidale, New South Wales, Australia, and it is one of the most avant-garde domestic Arts and Crafts style designs of the 19th century. It was designed for Frederick Robert White in about 1882 by Canadian-born Sydney architect John Horbury Hunt and built by local building contractors William Seabrook and John Brown.

South-facing elevation. Source

South-facing elevation. Source

The first plans for Booloominbah were completed in 1882 or early 1883 and revised before tenders were called for the construction in November 1883. The White family did not move in until 1888 due to the extensive nature of the interior decorations.

House built for Frederick White a wealthy pastoralist in 1888. Source

House built for Frederick White a wealthy pastoralist in 1888. Source

The White family occupied the house until 1933. The property was granted by White’s son-in-law Thomas Richmond Foster to the University of Sydney and became the New England University College of the University of Sydney in 1938 and then the University of New England in 1954. The building now houses the offices of the University’s senior management, including the Vice-Chancellor’s office.

Booloominbah stained glass depicting rural Australian scenes. Source

Booloominbah stained glass depicting rural Australian scenes. Source

As well as being large, it is also extravagant in decoration, in particular, the use of stained glass. The building has several stained glass windows including the Gordon Window above the main staircase, installed about 1901, which commemorates the life and death of Charles George Gordon of Khartoum,  who was beheaded in 1885 by the forces of Muhammad Ahmad.

The house is elaborately finished with the extensive use of stained glass and contains more stained glass than any other house designed by Hunt. Source

The house is elaborately finished with the extensive use of stained glass and contains more stained glass than any other house designed by Hunt. Source

Booloominbah reflects the Gothic revivalist influences of the ‘Queen Anne’ style that emerged in England and the United States in the last half of the 19th century. Recent refurbishment has restored much of the original decoration. The building has National Trust classification, as well as being listed on the Register of the National Estate.

 

Main staircase with part of Gordon Window visible. Source

The main staircase with part of Gordon Window visible. Source

This is a rare regional antiquities museum for Australia. Its collections began in 1959 when the university established its Department of Classics. It has antiquities from the Middle East, the Mediterranean, South East Asia, and the Pacific. The Booloominbah Collection is located in the west wing in the area of the original College dining room.

Booloominbah facade. Source

Booloominbah facade. Source

This fascinating mansion has been described as being “perhaps Hunt’s greatest achievement in the field of domestic architecture.”