Remnants of the original 1840’s cedar fretwork given to the current owners by the previous owners in 2014. (image: Robert Hannan)

Rothwell Lodge, at 24 Ferry Rd, was built around 1847.

Veranda posts with fretwork infills unique for Glebe and now rare for Sydney.

Modern technology recently came to our aid when we decided to complete the reinstatement of the original verandah posts design on our house. When we bought the house three years ago we were left with a box of broken cedar fretwork infills that the previous owner had one day intended to have remade and reinstated (Picture 1). A photo of our house from around 1916 (currently with the Macleay Museum) shows the 1st floor posts infilled. The old posts had been covered for years with timber cladding, preserving the fragments beneath. They were rediscovered when Rothwell Lodge was bought by the previous owner. The house had been a squat for several years and was heading for demolition. There are references to Rothwell Lodge in a Glebe Society Bulletin of 1987 asking for members to be vigilant due to concerns due to the threat of unauthorised demolition.

The previous owner carried out an extraordinary repair of Rothwell Lodge in 1988, as the house was a mess. Since there are fourteen timber posts and the original 1847 timber fretwork infills had been cut by hand, this was no small task. Using the expertise of a talented cabinet maker who had done other work for us, we were able to piece together enough fragments to work out the design. He then made a corflute template for us ensuring the design replicated the original variations and imprecision in widths that a hand saw would have produced when cutting the infills. They were then cut using a computerised saw in much less time than by hand. The finished infills have now been installed and have made a huge difference to the verandah (Picture 2).

There are few examples in Sydney of this type of Regency Victorian detail, which is intended to give a lightness of effect. Iron posts and railings were increasingly used from this time. We have seen another wooden example at Rose Bay Cottage (1834) by the renowned architect John Verge.

We have been honoured to be able to return a rare architectural feature to our home that has been missing for over 100 years as 2017 marks its 170th birthday.

New timber fretwork infills installed in 2016 (image: Robert Hannan)