A Stately Mansion and a Horse

Essenside was a stately mansion built in 1873 on the northwest corner of the intersection of Moseley Street and College Street, Glenelg. Designed by architect Rowland Rees and built for Captain Edward Meade “Ned” Bagot and his family, Essenside was a superb example of Victorian architecture in the colony of South Australia.

Essenside - photo c 1873 - State Library of South Australia B 10748 by Sweet, Samuel White
Essenside – photo c 1873 – State Library of South Australia B 10748 by Sweet, Samuel White

Essenside was built as a seaside home for Capt. Edward Meade “Ned” Bagot, his wife Anne (nee Smith) and their children. It was built in what was, at the time, a residential enclave for wealthy Adelaide businessmen and their families.

Bagot was a pastoralist who owned the land on which the Kapunda Copper Mines was founded. He was a member of the South Australian Jockey Club and is credited with having laid out Morphettville Race Course. Essenside was designed by the architect and politician, Rowland Rees and built on land purchased by Bagot in 1868.

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Essenside had some architectural features typical of ornate Victorian mansions of the time. The photos above were taken by Reg Fisk just prior to demolition in 1972 and have been sourced from the Holdfast Bay History Centre. The photos are the tower from the rear, the front ground floor bay window, the window at the topmost front left, and the front left first-floor window.

Essenside (rear view) - taken from the Family Hotel looking east - photo c 1878 - State Library of South Australia B 9449
Essenside (rear view) – taken from the Family Hotel looking east – photo c 1878 – State Library of South Australia B 9449

In the left foreground of the above photo and partly obscuring Essenside is Hindmarsh House, built in 1874 at 3-5 College Street and still standing today. Just to the left of Essenside’s tower is the original Congregational Church, now the hall of the larger St. Andrew’s by the Sea (Uniting Church) built after this photo was taken. In the mid-ground of the photo to the far right surrounded by trees is “The Olives”. Built in 1867, “The Olives” is now owned privately and is a fine example of sensitive and accurate restoration.

Look closely at the Congregational Church. In the corner of the angle formed by the church’s eaves and the roofline extending down from the left of Essenside’s two larger chimneys, there are two thicker white structures. While these structures may appear to be part of the church’s western wall, they are actually two large pediment windows in Essenside’s northern wall. The original building had four such windows extending from the roof out over the external walls – two on the northern side and two on the southern side.

Essenside - second from left with a two-story extension - photo c 1878 - Holdfast Bay History Centre - PH-GL-1153
Essenside – second from left with a two-story extension – photo c 1878 – Holdfast Bay History Centre – PH-GL-1153

In 1876 disastrous losses on Northern Territory gold mines caused Bagot severe financial difficulties and forced him to assign his estate. In January 1877 the trustees sold the property to Andrew Tennant, a pastoralist who subsequently owned Princess Royal Station, Burra.

Tennant added a two-story extension on the southern side that included a spacious and well-appointed ballroom, expanding his home to a total of 21 rooms. He may have named the building “Essenside” at this point in time.

Tennant also added windows above the front and rear first floor verandahs. Two of these “new” windows may have been the large pediment windows on the southern side of the original building, subsumed by Tennant’s extension. These pre-existing windows may have been relocated to the front and rear external walls.

1921 Auction
Essenside – with an ornate cast iron crest around the widow’s walk, a glassed-roofed conservatory on the ground to the left and a possibly relocated ex-south side pediment window over the middle of the first-floor verandah – photo 1921 – “The Register”, Thursday 8th December

Andrew Tennant died on the 19th of July 1913. His wife Anne died on 13th May 1921. Essenside was put up for sale later the same year. The quote below is from the auction notice on page 4 of “The Register” for Thursday 8th December 1921.

“This imposing and very well-known residence (of which the magnificent ballroom and nobly proportioned billiard room are special features) is to be sold by auction on the premises on Tuesday, 20th inst., at 3. under instructions from the trustees in the estate of the late Andrew Tennant. As a large family residence, it has few rivals, and there is probably no more eligible property in South Australia for the purposes of a first-class private hotel, or for conversion into residential flats. The property – which is in excellent order throughout – may be purchased as a whole, or, if preferred – minus the lawn (with frontage to College Street), and the substantial outbuildings (fronting Elizabeth Street), which would then be sold separately. The exceptionally valuable vacant block on the south of “Essenside” is to be sold in suitable-sized building lots, with frontages to Moseley and College streets. The trustees are determined to sell and propose to fix the reserve prices at sufficiently low figures to prove irresistible to investors. The auctioneers are Wilkinson, Sando, & Wyles, Limited, and inspection may be arranged at their offices, 20 Waymouth Street.”

Photo 1923 - State Library of South Australia PRG 280/1/41/132
Photo 1923 – State Library of South Australia PRG 280/1/41/132

In 1923 a horse named Essenside won a race in Adelaide.

Essenside - photo c 1925 - Holdfast Bay History Centre - PH-GL-1398
Essenside – photo c 1925 – Holdfast Bay History Centre – PH-GL-1398

Alexandra Terrace (right – built in 1878) on the northern corner of Moseley Street and Elizabeth Street, facing Moseley Street. Essenside is the third building from the right, just past the single-story building on the southern corner of the intersection.

The roof of Essenside’s tower is as built originally. Hence, this photo predates April 1948 when the tower was struck by lightning and its roofline altered by subsequent repairs. This view of Essenside’s northern wall shows a chimney and one of two large pediment windows that cut into the eaves. These windows matched two on the opposite side of the original building possibly relocated when the ballroom wing was added.

Essenside - photo "The New Times", March 1972, page 5 - Holdfast Bay History Centre VF Essenside C0442670659
Essenside – photo “The New Times”, March 1972, page 5 – Holdfast Bay History Centre VF Essenside C0442670659

In 1972 Essenside was demolished and replaced by Manson Towers, a nine-story block of units for the Elderly Citizens Homes of S.A. Inc.

Essenside - photo 1972 - Holdfast Bay History Centre VF Essenside C0442670659
Essenside – photo 1972 – Holdfast Bay History Centre VF Essenside C0442670659

An article in “The New Times”, March 1972, describing the property just prior to demolition noted a gigantic banquet room with gothic alcoves and archways, a billiard room, servants quarters in the attic, a wine cellar, an observation tower, lots of timber in the interior (gigantic beams 2ft by 1ft and the length and breadth of the house interlaced by smaller beams 6″ by 6″ and no more than a foot apart), a huge internal roof section, original wall mirrors that could form three sides to a bedroom in a contemporary house, huge ornate marble fireplaces and smaller wall fixtures, and foundations that were very deep and very, very thick.

Essenside - photo "The New Times", March 1972, page 5 - Holdfast Bay History Centre VF Essenside C0442670659
Essenside – photo “The New Times”, March 1972, page 5 – Holdfast Bay History Centre VF Essenside C0442670659

Essenside from the rear partway through demolition. The roof has been removed and only the tower and the stone window frames and chimneys remain. The consequences of an unsympathetic conversion to flats can be seen in the filled in verandahs at the rear of the building.

Essenside - photo c 1873 - Holdfast Bay History Centre - PH-GL-0254
Essenside – photo c 1873 – Holdfast Bay History Centre – PH-GL-0254

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