the Governor's Summer Residence
The Main Residence of Marble Hill was built in 1878-79 in the style of a Scottish baronial castle to serve as the Vice-Regal summer residence of the South Australian Governors. The site was selected by the State's 10th Governor, Sir William Jervois, a Royal Engineer who rose to fame building fortifications throughout the British Empire. We imagine he needed a high and clear view point of St Vincent’s Gulf, from which to see the ship movements to and from Port Adelaide.
Although no official business was done at Marble Hill (that being left to Government House in Adelaide), the succeeding Governors enjoyed the tranquillity and regularly hosted celebrity guests and distinguished visitors, including royalty.
The devastating Black Sunday bushfire of 1955 gutted the residence and all the buildings on the property. The Governor of the day, Sir Robert George and his household barely escaped with their lives. Marble Hill was abandoned and almost forgotten.
However, in the 1970s the National Trust was able to restore part of the building and some other parts of the property. Their funds were limited, so largely, Marble Hill residence remained a Ruin for 60 years.
In 2007 the SA State Government called for Expressions of Interest and eventually the property was sold to private owners under a Heritage Agreement in 2009. The Heritage Agreement, which is attached to the land title, requires the Main Residence to be rebuilt, protected from bushfire and the grounds to be maintained. It also required Marble Hill to be open to the public seven times a year.
In consultation with 5 government departments, a long task of restoration began, entirely at the expense of the new owners. Another huge task was to clear the woody weeds and feral trees to help make the property safe from bushfires, and this ongoing land management continues, with both bushcare projects and new ornamental plantings.
The main residence, as required in the Heritage Agreement, will retain 19th century exterior appearance, but will also comply with modern 21st Century building requirements, including earthquake proofing. The interior will retain the same traditional layout, but with modern conveniences and the residence will become a private retreat.
As a practice run for the main restoration, in 2011 a reproduction New Stone Barn was built on the site of the old Caretaker's Cottage. This provides under-cover storage, office & kitchen facilities and serves as a venue for the many Open Days.
Construction of the Barn required the removal of dozens of mature pine trees and to our surprise, this opened the magnificent views over the Adelaide plains.
When the need for a water licence led to the purchase of a nearby vineyard in 2013, Marble Hill become winegrowers. Luckily, our team had many generations of horticultural expertise and with the addition of an award-wining winemaker, Marble Hill now has a collection of sensational wines available for tasting and purchase.
It soon became clear that the next step should be the restoration of the Stables, so that we could share our amazing wines and spectacular views.
Marble Hill Stables
The Marble Hill Stables have seen many changes since they were first built nearly 140 years ago to service the Summer Retreat of the then Governor, Sir William Jervois.
Designed by colonial architect, William McMinn, (who also designed the main residence) the Stables were built of local sandstone in 1879. The building provided stabling for the Governor's six horses, with a hay loft, fodder room, attached Coach-house and Coachman's Cottage. Later, in the 1930s, the Stables were converted into garaging for four cars.
The Black Sunday bushfire of 1955 gutted all the buildings at Marble Hill and the property was abandoned in ruins for nearly 20 years.
The National Trust took over management of the property and in 1973 restored the Stables as Tearooms for visitors to the historic site. In time visitor numbers fell and in the 1990s the Stables were again abandoned. Volunteers from the Friends of Marble Hill resurrected the Stables Tearooms briefly, but lack of resources forced the volunteers to call a halt to operations in 2006.
Since the sale of Marble Hill to private owners in 2009, the Stables have been renovated to create an event venue available for hire on the property for events such as weddings, functions, displays and open days.
The Stables had already lost its original facade and was not heritage listed, so this meant we could use some creative licence. The interior was totally refurbished, and the front wall was rebuilt with French doors. Some of the National Trust work was retained, but much had to be redone, this time with artisan tradesmen using original building techniques.