Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Fernleigh, Kempton

The elegant house now known as 'Fernleigh' "was built in the 1830s by Thomas Gorringe, a free settler who was granted 800 acres by Governor Macquarie in 1821. Gorringe was a doctor who left a large medical practice in Brighton (England) to seek his fortune and provide for his large and increasing family." Thomas originally named his property “Woodville”. Once established on his grant, Thomas Gorringe combined his medical practice with brewing beer and became very well known for the quality of his beer.

There are many references to Thomas in books relating to the early colonial days. He was a well-known figure in the Colony, being a Medical Attendant to road gangs at Green Ponds. He was appointed a Catechist and Lecturer in 1826 and in that capacity conducted services at St. Mary’s Church of England in Green Ponds, and was the first Rector of the Church. He held this position until the arrival of the first Chaplain about two years later.

During this time it was largely though his efforts that a chapel was built there. Gorringe gave £5 towards it, as did a Miss Gorringe (believed to have been his sister). He was also granted a licence to brew beer. In the Land Board’s report on his application for an additional grant dated 4 March 1829 it states that he had given up brewing and was then devoting himself solely to agricultural pursuits. He was granted an extra 500 acres at Green Ponds. In the early 1830s he was living in a house called "Spring Grove".

Early on in the 1800's there was a tennis court on "Fernleigh" and games of tennis were played there competitively with other towns. Dr Gorringe died at his home "Woodville", in 1858, aged 79 years. He is buried in a family vault in the little graveyard at the Congregational Church, Kempton. The house is now a very impressive private residence.

Main Text & Information Sources -  
Interpretive Sign at the Site

Interpretive Sign at the Site