HAILED as Newcastle’s most magnificent home, Jesmond House has sat proudly atop The Hill for almost 150 years.
It’s impossible to miss, cascading down the slope alongside The Obelisk, bordered by Barker and Ordnance streets.
Award-winning Newcastle Herald photographer Simone
De Peak climbed the property’s tower to capture the shot of the city vista which appears on the adjacent page. It was the same spot where John Rae stood more than a century ago to take the photograph we published yesterday in our Newcastle Next series of sequential ‘‘front’’ pages.
The mansion was built for Henry Rouse in the Victorian Classical Revival style in 1875.
It was bought by John Wood, who died in 1887, and left the property to his son John R. Wood, of Woods and Castlemaine Brewers fame (opposite The Store).
Mr Wood junior married Essie Jenyns, an acclaimed Shakespearean actress.
They extensively remodelled Jesmond House, with its sprawling gardens becoming the centre of Newcastle’s elite social universe. Historians, quoting newspaper reports, say it was renowned for the ‘‘glory of its furnishings and the generosity of its hospitality’’.
Well-known architect Frederick B. Menkens designed the rear wings of the house, with James Henderson being responsible for the tower. The estate once also included separate stables, an adjoining cottage, and a terrace of three-storey houses in Watt Street.
The Woods left for England in 1907. Jesmond House was sold in 1928 and converted into flats. The property underwent various renovations before returning to the headlines 80 years later when businessman Matthew Higgins paid a record $7million for it in 2008.
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