Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Tempe House - a Greek kowtow

The house was built for Alexander Brodie Spark who was Scottish, after a design by John Verge. I emphasise the Verge link as he is more "famous" than is Spark (IMO). Spark was born in Elgin, Scotland ad his "literary pretensions" may help to explain two things about Tempe House. In the mid-1830s when the house was designed and built - as a farm and rural retreat - the area was called Cooks River, then it became Tempe, and today is known as Wolli Creek.

The fact that Spark emmigrated from Elgin, Scotland to Sydney Town in 1823, already gives us a Greek connection, with the Earl of Elgin swiping the marble reliefs from the Parthenon in 1801. Spark named his rural retreat after the Vale of Tempe, in Thessaly, Greece just south of Olympus. To further stress his intent, he named the small wooded "mound" in his grounds "Mount Olympus". These gates lead to this hillock, which is left in its natural state with uneven ground, and exposed rocks, and not fit for the likes of myself.

I am still loathe to show you a full-frontal of this poor little villa. In his biography of John Verge, Harley Preston notes the house as "a small Regency villa, practically a ferme ornée".

I should reference the "kowtow" of my title. Its meaning may have commenced as a sign of deep respect, but I mean it in the modern meaning of grovelling.


Andrew said...

Wasn't the tram maintenance place known to be at Wolli Creek? Not unusual for different place names to be used for certain locations. I never knew the origin of Elgin in the Elgin Marbles. I do now, thanks.

Julie said...

I did not know about the tram depot, Andrew. I have now read a bit more. I gather it was also called the Tempe Tram Depot. This tram line closed in 1957.

William Kendall said...

I don't know- from what I see, I like it.

Cloudia said...

Well illustrated with word and image. Thanks

ALOHA from Honolulu,

Tahiti Daily Photo said...

The photos of the fence are quite inviting ...