Harden, just 90 minutes from Canberra, is a small town at the heart of an agricultural food bowl. But it’s also home to a unique property that might well be considered the finest rural residence between there and the Southern Highlands – and the audacity of its sheer scale and opulence would shade many of Bowral’s gems.
Linden Hills sits on 40 hectares of prime land and announces itself with a grand entry statement, highlighted by impressive handcrafted, wrought iron gates.
The driveway winds its way through immaculately landscaped grounds to the main residence, a deceptively modest home modelled on early 20th century Australian homestead architecture.
Inside, a visitor might be forgiven for thinking he or she had strayed into Downton Abbey. The interior architectural detail is absolutely stunning and endless.
This magnificent five-bedroom, four-bathroom residence of some 600 square metres boasts formal and informal lounge and dining rooms. There’s also a library, office and a country-style kitchen.
Every ceiling has been meticulously designed. The grand foyer is highlighted by marble tiles and a conical roof. The book-lined library is octagonally shaped; feature fireplaces abound; there are French light fittings, wet bar, wine cellar, leadlight features, central heating … the list goes on. Wide verandahs wrap the home on three sides and provide numerous areas in which to relax as the seasons change.
Owner Philip Hockney says the journey towards the realisation of Linden Hills actually began in the Southern Highlands.
“My wife Mary and I discovered the property nearly 25 years ago – we had been planning to buy in Bowral,” he said. “One of those twists of fate brought us to Harden and we fell in love with the property.”
Philip had a vision for an estate that could be scaled for entertaining. His aim was to build a kind of weekend retreat that he could use to entertain business clients.
“Rather than just offering my clients a harbour cruise or similar, I wanted an option where I could bring them and their families away for an entire weekend and there would be plenty of activities for everyone, regardless of age,” Philip said.
The brief to his architect had been to build a residence based on early 20th century Australian architecture – with an emphasis on entertaining.
“My favourite room is the dining room – it seats 40 and it’s certainly seen plenty of outstanding events,” he says.