Caversham House

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Our History

141 Caversham Avenue, Caversham WA 6055

History of the Estate

When the British Government decided to send out Captain James Stirling to found a settlement on the Swan River it issued circulars designed primarily to encourage would be settlers to join the venture. The big incentive offered was the allocation of land to approved people provided they arrived in the colony before the end of the year 1830.The allocations were made on the basis of investment in the project so that those who bought most material wealth and perhaps servants as well were allocated the greater acreages. All allocations were subject to certain land improvements , or “location duties” as they were called.

Swan location M1 on which this house stands consisted of 1452 acres with a river frontage of 34 chains and running Westward to about the present Wanneroo Road . There is some evidence that M1 may have originally been ear-marked for Captain Stirling wife’s people , the Mangles of Guildford Surrey. It was , however , allocated to Peter Cayley Shadwell , whose family had a law firm in London and who arrived in the colony in the “Egyptian” on the 13th February 1830. Shadwell , as was fairly common among original settlers remained in the colony only a few months. Unlike many others , however, he left agents with funds to draw on and made sure the required improvements were carried out so that on the 4th of January 1835 , he was granted the property in fee simple ( a copy of this deed is on display in the reception room).

Shadwell’s agents had carried out considerable clearing , had planted crops and gardens and erected some buildings . It appears that Shadwell leased the property early in the 1830’s to Dr. Richard Hinds , a surgeon in the Royal Navy. It also seems that the doctor’s son Charles Pidley Hinds , only a youth , came to the property very early and may have helped in the carrying out of location duties.

As soon as Shadwell received his certificate of title he was entitled to sell his property which he soon did to Dr. Hinds who arrived with his family in the “Shepherd” on the 28th of February , 1837. Although it is almost certain the Hinds lived on the property at first they later moved to Perth where Dr. Hinds died in 1843. In the late 1830’s and the early 1840’s the place was leased to William Tanner who, although owning a lot of property on the Swan, including a house at Baskerville, appears to have preferred to live nearer Perth although there is no clear documentary evidence.

It is interesting to note that the property has no name at this stage which is unusual for those days. Again research is incomplete , it does appear almost certain that the Hinds gave the property the name of Caversham Rise after a seat in Berkshire , England and because of it’s geographical situation at the top of the nearby rise offering comfortable access to and from the river which, of course , was the medium of transport.

The younger Hinds , then living in South Australia , sold Caversham Rise to one Henry Brierly , described as Yeoman , in June 1855 , for two hundred pounds. Henry Brierly, eight months later sold it to Robert de Burgh for four hundred and forty pounds , thus making a tidy profit for those days.

In the late 1870’s Robert de Burgh , who in 1865 had added to his holdings the Heal property of 1123 acres between Caversham Rise and Roes , sold all of his estate West of West Swan Road to his son’s -in -law , Charles Harper of Woodbridge and Henry Brockman of Cheriton , Gingin. In the mid 1890’s the remainder of the estate was subdivided by Henry de Burgh who had succeeded his father on the latter’s death in 1884 and then began the establishment of the vineyards of today . It interesting to note that Robert de Burgh’s grandson , Walter de Burgh , still owns land and lives nearby , thus maintaining a continuous family presence of over 123 years.

Following the subdivision in the 1890’s Caversham House (it appears de Burghs dropped the “rise” from the name) passed to Frederick Slade Brockman

( whose wife was Grace Bussell of other fame) and B.H. Darbyshire before being sold to Adrian de’Espeissis in 1901. de’Espeissis had been brought from New South Wales in 1896 as the first professionally trained agriculturalist in the new Department of Agriculture.

He was a member of a syndicate which bought “Carlisle” , the old Caversham property West of West Swan Road sold earlier to Charles Harper. Here just before the turn of the century a vineyard and winery was established . First called “Carlisle” it’s name was later changed to “Santa Rosa” and later still to “Valencia” by which name it is now very well known.

Adrian de’Espeissis went from “Carlisle ” to live at Caversham on his marriage and remained there until 1909, commuting to work in Perth by horse and sulky and train from Guildford. De’Espeissis sold Caversham to W.M. Atkins in 1909 but by reason of mortgage retained interest in it until 1919 when the mortgage was discharged and the property sold by Atkins to Mrs. S. H. Wilson.

The original buildings were improved and added to by successive owners . Well before the turn of the century a substantial residence and outbuildings existed, however , near the end of the Great War , while the house was under lease , the living quarters had been destroyed by fire . On taking over the property in the early 1930’s Colonel and Mrs. Wilson raised a new building to modern design but incorporating the portion of the original house spared by the fire. This old portion still remains and is in use , providing an interesting link with the past.