Kings Plains Castle, Inverell NSW Australia
The beauty of Kings Plains at Inverell NSW is not just the large majestic three-storey baronial castle set in a spectacular backdrop of Eucalypts, but also, the historic timber woolsheds, the largest in the New England Tablelands. The woolsheds are clearly visible from the castle and nest-in beautifully against a silhouetted forest of Eucalypts. Typically, the timber woolsheds are of early colonial vernacular with timbers morticed and tenoned and not nailed. Most of these structures date back to 1832 during William Vivers time.
Kings Plains was first settled in 1832 by William Vivers, an immigrant from Dumfries in Scotland. He settled in Kings Plains with 61,440 acres of promising pastoral land between Glen Innes and Inverell on the New England Tablelands of New South Wales. In 1908 his great-nephew George Vivers began construction of what would become one of the most stunning family homes in the country. Using locally quarried bluestone, he created a 28 room, 4-level castle with 14 fireplaces, 12 bedrooms plus battlements known as Kings Plains. It is said, that George built his castle as a reminder of his Scottish heritage which made him feel at home.
Built by Dr George Vivers in 1912 the large heritage-listed baronial castle was designed by Sydney based architects Rowe & Luchily. A copy of their plans still hang on the walls of the basement billiard room. It is remarkable how faithfully the house was constructed from these. The castle is simple and restrained in its detailing and has perfect scale and presence on the landscape. Its internal plan has interesting and varied spaces which so many country houses built around that period lack. It is typical of New England architecture in basic concept as it does not have verandahs but reduced to a series of large porches and enclosed arcades.
The house is approached by a broad flight of stairs to the front terrace, from where distant hills and the horizon can be seen. The rooms are beautifully proportioned and offer seemingly endless views of the countryside and surrounding gardens. The drawing room, the dining room, library, kitchen, pantry etc, were built for an age when servants were abundant. The tower rooms at Kings Plains are most interesting. These are approached by a cast iron staircase at the first-floor landing and lead to a Gothic-style passageway and tower room. The composition of tight spaces leading to the tower room is interesting and leaves you with a medieval Gothic experience.
Special Comments from Chris Wilmar, Architect
The gardens at Kings Plains are substantially reduced from their original size and layout. However, from the tower room, views stretch far to the picturesque horizon. In 2001 Michael & Kathryn Vivers sold Kings Plains and their new owners currently offer quality bed and breakfast during the summer months and raise beef cattle and English long-horn in the house paddocks.
It’s easy for present generations to like architecture from this period, because it is not too ornamental and simply restrained. The abundance of detail in Victorian architecture has vanished here and a certain austerity has taken its place. Kings Plains is a property of immense appeal and character to all generations because of its baronial nature and its statement on the landscape.
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