Monday, July 18, 2011

Darlinghurst Blog: Villas of Darlinghurst: Brougham Lodge

Detail from c1835 painting, Darlinghurst Road, by Frederick Garling, 
with Brougham Lodge at left.
Brougham Lodge: allotment of over 8 acres granted to James Dowling in 1831.

Brougham Lodge was built in 1831 for the second Chief Justice of NSW, Sir James Dowling, who took over the role after Francis Forbes was given long leave in September 1835. 
Sir Dowling was born in London in 1787 and studied at St Paul's School and worked as a parliamentary reporter before being called to the bar in 1815, at the age of 28. 
Thirteen years later, at 41, he decided that he wanted to make ''myself useful to the public'' and advance his ''private interests and welfare of my numerous family,'' and so applied to the Colonial Office for an appointment abroad. 
In February 1828 Sir Dowling arrived in Sydney aboard the Hooghly with his wife, Maria Sheen, and their six children. The couple had ten children but four died in infancy. Maria, his wife, died six years after their arrival in Australia and Sir Dowling then remarried Harriet Ritchie, the widowed daughter of John Blaxland (older brother of Blue Mountains settler Gregory Blaxland). The newlyweds made Kings Cross their home, living at one of the busiest junctions in the area, but I'll get to that later.
Sir Dowling initially came to Australia to act as puisne judge, or regular judge, but in 1835 he won the battle against Sir William Burton for the role of Chief Justice. He was also knighted in 1838.
Sir Dowling was a hard-working jurist, described by one colleague as having a ''painstaking and anxious industry rarely equalled'' who ''never failed to make himself its master in every detail'' of cases brought before him.
In 1829 he delivered the first sitting of the Supreme Court in the Hunter Valley (at the Union Inn) and also travelled to Norfolk Island for the same in 1833.
He worked so hard that in 1840, his daughter, Lady Dowling, despaired: ''Papa has for six days been at court until seven and eight o'clock in the evening. Yesterday he was there from 10am until three this morning.''
It seemed Sir Dowling was driven by a desire to build a good life for his children. 
His salary as a puisne judge was 1000 Pounds a year, which doubled when he became chief justice. 
Still, in 1828 he wrote to his patron, Lord Henry Brougham, in England, that ''Without parsimonious economy . . . I cannot keep out of debt . . . even with my frugal habits.
''I have been obliged to mortgage the little property I have scraped together to enable me to maintain and educate my children.''
But this dedication to his children and the role of Chief Justice would eventually take its toll. 
In 1840 he was advised by his doctor to take medical leave for three months and a year later Sir Dowling applied for 18 months leave in order to regain back his strength lost from ''13 years of incessant judicial labour, never once relaxed''.
But his seniors refused this leave until June 1844 when Sir Dowling collapsed on the bench. 
Sir Dowling eventually booked passage on a ship but before he could sail, he died on September 27, 1844, aged just 56.
Sir Dowling's home from 1831 to his death was Brougham Lodge, which was built at what is now the junction between Darlinghurst Road and Victoria Street in Kings Cross. He was granted over eight acres there in 1831. Brougham Lodge was initially designed by an unknown architect, but John Verge completed the designs.
The painting at the top of this post also shows the two windmills, known as the North Darlinghurst Mills, which featured on the Kings Cross landscape in the 1830s. There were also three other windmills on Darlinghurst Road - Clarkson's Mill and two wooden-post mills - as well as the Craigend Mill, all located along the ridge line and in the highest points of the neighbourhood so as to best catch the air currents. The mills were used as a source of renewable energy and to grind grain.
After Sir Dowling's death, the former chief justice's home was tenanted and also used as a boys's school. It was sold to developers in 1882 for 7000 Pounds and demolished soon after.
The Holiday Inn now marks the site of Brougham Lodge.

Nearby Brougham Street was named after Sir Dowling's home, while Dowling Street and South Dowling Street, which run from Woolloomooloo to Paddington, were named after the former Chief Justice.

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