On a windy Sunday, we travelled to Vaucluse to climb a lighthouse (we’ve developed a little passion for this) only to be turned away as we had not booked a month in advance. A quick google search and we found a few local historical sites to check out which quickly filled our day.
At nearby Chapel Road we found the Wentworth Mausoleum. Entombed inside are the remains of William Charles Wentworth who died in England in 1872. As per his wishes, his wife had returned him home to be buried alongside his “rock” which you can see at the front. The Mansfield Brothers architects designed and erected the Victorian Academic Gothic style Mausoleum over the tomb.
Originally Wentworth’s Mausoleum was set on the grounds of Vaucluse House. Over time the land was sold off and the mausoleum is now surrounded by residential properties. It is an eerie place with a gigantic rock lying in front of it and rockery behind. The original fence still stands and whilst the grounds have been maintained they have also remained quite original.
Whilst you can not walk into Wentworth’s Mausoleum the doors are large metal grates which you can peer through to see inside. Although darkened, with the only natural light coming through via the stained glass window, you can see the tomb clearly underneath the window.
So who was William Charles Wentworth? Born on August 13 1790 (although his obituary says 6 May 1792) he is considered one of the leading figures of early colonial New South Wales. In 1813 he led an expedition which found a route across the Blue Mountains with Gregory Blaxland and William Lawson. This provided access to grazing lands. He was also a poet, , journalist and politician, fiercely advocating for self-government for the Australian colonies.
What I found most fascinating about Wentworth was his private life. He married Sarah Cox in 1829. She was the daughter of two convicts and gave birth to her first two children with Wentworth before they were married. This caused much tension in society where she was never fully accepted, if at all. Together they had seven daughters and three sons. It is said that Wentworth had further children out of wedlock too, including one with Jamima Eagar, the estranged wife of Edward Eagar.
When he died, William Wentworth received the first NSW State Funeral. Numerous suburbs and towns have been named after him resulting in his name being quite well known in Sydney although many don’t know why.
Stay tuned for our coverage of Vaucluse House.