For the first time in 165 years, the historic Hunter Valley homestead property Bickham has been sold.
- Bickham homestead in the NSW Hunter Valley has been sold for the first time in 165 years
- The price has not been disclosed, however, bids around $2.7 million were expected
- The property has been bought by a young Sydney family
The property at Blandford, near Scone, was offered for sale by the Malone family, with the drawcard for the property a grand homestead that was progressively built during the mid-1800s and completed in 1875.
It boasts seven bedrooms and four bathrooms, and its grounds include a tennis court and an in-ground pool.
The 133-hectare (330-acre) grazing property, which features a winery, has 4 kilometres of Pages River frontage and has a stocking rate of about 70 cows and calves.
Elements of yesteryear also include a slaughterhouse, a blacksmith, old cattle stalls, dairy and stone cemetery.
The homestead and buildings were originally part of Bickham Estate, which was over 4,856 hectares (12,000 acres).
The genesis of Bickham Estate was established by John Cory in 1835 when he purchased 352 hectares (870 acres) of land with frontage to Pages River.
It has been in the ownership of the Wright family since 1856 when it was purchased by Phillip Wright.
Property co-vendor Sophie Malone, whose connection to Bickham goes back to 1931 when her great aunt married Max Wright (a descendant of Phillip Wright), said the property during the early years was like a self-contained village.
Co-selling agent Angus Patterson said the property was sold after a five-week expression of interest campaign.
Mr Patterson would not disclose the selling price, however, said he had quoted $2.7 million for the property prior to sale.
‘Don’t erase the history’
Ms Malone said while she did not grow up on the property she visited it a lot during her childhood and over the past 50 years.
“It’s been in our family and in the blood for a long time, so it’s sad to let it go,” Ms Malone said.
She hoped the new owners would respect the history of the property.
“I hope someone can breathe new life into it and see themselves as a caretaker or a custodian and care for it with a light touch, don’t erase the history,” she said.
Archivist Bill Oates from Armidale, NSW, visited the property this week and was impressed by what he called “a hidden jewel of the New England”.
Mr Oates was keen for the property’s history to be maintained.
“If it had been able to be kept as a possession of the state it would have been of great cultural heritage, but now we will have to rely on the new owners to be true to retaining that heritage,” Mr Oates said.
Mr Oates said the Bickham homestead was important as it was the heartland of the Wright family dynasty.
“The Wrights, of course, are well known in the New England and they pioneered in Queensland around Bundaberg,” he said.
During his tour of the property, Mr Oates was able to read the historical records of the Hereford cattle that were bred on the property and also letters between family members.
He was also impressed by the blacksmith building and its original features of bellows, hearth and anvil.
“If you can save the documentary record and save the photographic record, and then pass it on to the researchers, then we’ve done our job as archivists,” he said.
New buyers from Sydney
The property was purchased by a young Sydney family who has a passion for historic homes.
“They’re certainly keen enthusiasts of Australian historic homes and they’ve bought Bickham with the intention to undertake a sympathetic restoration of the homestead and the existing ancillary structures,” Mr Patterson said.
He said the restoration work would also include the stone cemetery that was located on the property.
Mr Patterson said the new owners were also keen to engage with the local community and schools to allow periodic access to the property.
Mr Patterson said the vendors were happy to hand over the property to the new buyers.
“It’s one of those sales where everyone can shake their hand at the table and be very happy that it’s going to a family that’s going to do what they are planning to do,” he said.
“It will be very good to look at the property in 12 months to two years’ time and see where it’s come from and what they are going to take it to.”