ROUGHLEY HOUSE IS A WELL-KNOWN HOUSE FOR A NUMBER OF REASONS.
The house, which was bequeathed to the Hills Shire Council by Clive Roughley in 1985, was restored by Council and an appointed committee of local people and family members. In conjuction with this, Council also built the Hill’s Visitor Information Centre beside the residence. Many visitors, including those from retirement villages and probus clubs, arrive via bus and tour the residence. Others who visit the Roughley House are amount the few hundred people who attend ‘Jazz at the Pines’ once a month on a Sunday, in the warmer months.
Many people remember Clive as the ‘Honey and Egg Man’ and would call in to buy those products from him and have chat. ‘The Pines’ is not only one of the oldest houses in the Hills district but, due to a set of unusual circumstances, is also a cottage museum.
To enter Roughley House is to step into the past a unique experience.
Clive, who passed away in 2002, lived most of his life alone and only lived in the rear rooms of the house. The front rooms remained virtually untouched from before his mother’s time. The house was built in 1856 but was not the first house build on the land grant that was Roughley land. The first house was built by James Roughley (I) and his wife Harriet in the 1830s, opposite the junction of Galston Road. Harriet was also known from an early settler family, the Kentwells, after whom Kentwell Avenue in Castle Hill is named. They are also connected to the first fleet.
It was James (I) and Harriet, who gave the land to the Church of England for St Judes to be built at the Galston Road junction. On the death of James (I) his son James (II) and his wife Lydia built the present house in 1856. Some of the timber from the old house was used in the construction of the new one, with the material left over been used to build a shed at the back of the property.
Lydia’s famly were the Hunts who were very prominent in Parramatta at the time. Parramatta Dam, from which the early settlement drew, was on Hunt land and was originally called Hunt’s Dam. The main stream suppling it is still called Hunt’s Creek. In addition, the Hunts are remembered for a street in their name and two historic houses. One house, built by Lydia’s father Richard is a stone cottage in George Street. As an aside, it’s pleasing to see this colonial cottage surviving among high rise office buildings in a modern CBD.
This information about the Hunt family is contained in the book ‘These Walls of Time’ written by Ken Roughley. Ken also co-authored with June Roughley ‘A Loftier Race’ which details the history of the Roughley family.
The land on which Roughley House was built is part of the highest land in the Sydney area. In fact, Hunt trig station, named after Lydia’s brother, is across the road from the house and is the highest point. It is thought that the second story bedrooms are the highest in Sydney.
Her brother, John Charles Hunt, owned an adjoining property and like James (II) and Lydia, acquired further land in the district and elsewhere eventually. This is an example of how the early boundaries were connected.
The land of course was farming land and was originally used to grow grains as fodder for stock and poultry. However, the bulk of produce was sold to flour millers. This changed when it was found that the soil and climate were suitable for citrus fruit trees. The markets for this produce, and stone fruits, travelled to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and New Zealand.
Clive’s father, Archibald Edwin Charles, who was the youngest son of James (II) and Lydia continued to farm mainly citrus fruit. However, with the emergence of citrus growing in the broad area and irrigated farms of the Riverina and South East Queensland , Clive branched out into cattle.
Roughley House was constructed of stakes of ironbark which were charred by fire and then driven into the ground. The charring protected against rotting and termites. The stakes on the exterior of the house were covered with pitsawn weatherboard and lined with lath and plater. The high pitched roof was covered by shingles and replaced by galvanised iron, which although patented in England in 1847, was not used on the house until many years later.
Looking at the house you first notice the 160 year old pine trees after with the house is named. When first glimpsing the house you assume it is single story. However, because of the room provided by the high pitched roof and two windows at the back contains two upstairs bedrooms.
As we go through the house we see the five rooms that have had little changes for over 100 years. The first is the front bedroom, then the lounge room, the dining room and the upstairs bedrooms. There are many pieces of antique furniture, notably the rosewood four poster bed given to Clive’s mother, Emmeline Kay, by her side of the family.
It is not a grand house but the quality inclusions, particularly in the dining room, suggest that they became very prosperous. Within two generations they had progressed from transportation as convicts to wealthy landowners.
The story of transportation as a result of petty crime, in many cases from the hard conditions of 19th centre Britain, and the tragedy of family separation to the opportunities of the new land, is a common theme in our early colonial history.
The hard work and success of these people helped to build Australia.