Scottish biscuit baron's tablelands manor

Scottish biscuit baron's Orange manor

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One of the grand country retreats of the Central West is in play following the listing for sale of Mayfield Estate, the Orange district property of investment banker Richard Thomas and his wife Kathy.

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  • Orange
  • Agent: Chris Meares, (02) 9362 8111, Meares and Associates, Sydney.

One of the grand country retreats of the Central West is in play following the listing for sale of Mayfield Estate, the Orange district property of investment banker Richard Thomas and his wife Kathy.

Comprising 46.5 hectares (115ac) including 3.6ha of gardens and 6.6ha of vineyards, Mayfield is situated 9.5 kilometres south-east of Orange and about 3.5 hours' drive from Sydney.

The property has had only four owners since being taken up by explorer/statesman W.C. Wentworth as part of a crown grant he received for his part in the 1813 Blue Mountains crossing.

Its next illustrious owner was Thomas Icely MLC, who also owned Coombing Park at Carcoar, followed by William Tom, whose discovery of payable gold at nearby Ophir in 1815 sparked the country's first gold rush.

Mayfield was a holding of some 800ha when next acquired in the early 1900s by James Crawford of the prominent Scottish biscuit-making family, who had emigrated to NSW in 1897 for health reasons.

It was on his watch, from 1906 to 1910, that the present homestead was built, to a design by renowned architect William Hardy Wilson, whom Crawford had met while travelling by ship to England.

Crawford bred Suffolk sheep on Mayfield, and erected cottages and a school for use by the farm's Scottish workers.

When he died, a bachelor, in 1927, the bulk of his considerable estate, including Mayfield, passed to his godson and nephew, James Crawford, who by then also owned Guntawang at Gulgong.

Following James's death in 1980, the property passed to his widow Margaret, who sold off most of the country except the homestead portion which was bought by the present owners in 1998.

Now, after 22 years, Richard and Kathy Thomas are ready to move on, and have listed Mayfield Estate for sale by expressions of interest with Meares and Associates.

The offering is expected to attract widespread interest, both as a potential family retreat and as a commercial investment offering multiple income streams.

Listing agent Chris Meares said the COVID-19 pandemic and its related trend towards people working from home had caused a 'paradigm shift' in buyer attitudes.

'Up-market lifestyle property investors in particular are reassessing their position and future options with a preference for properties in the country which offer space ... and a healthy environment,' he said.

Centrepiece of Mayfield is its sprawling double-brick homestead, incorporating Georgian and Federation features, fastidiously maintained, and recognised (but not listed) by the National Trust.

Set within 3.6ha of gardens with mature exotic trees, the homestead has seven large bedrooms and six bathrooms, formal and informal living areas and an open-plan kitchen with modern appliances.

Period touches include high ceilings, large bay windows and open fireplaces, complemented by air conditioning and reverse-cycle heating, and terraces and courtyards for outdoor entertaining.

Further accommodation is provided by the former schoolhouse and workers' cottages, tastefully renovated and providing eight more bedrooms and/or function venues.

The 6.6ha drip-irrigated vineyard was planted in 1998 to pinot noir, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay vines, producing 'cool climate' wines for local and export markets.

Offers above $8 million are expected for Mayfield Estate by the closing date of October 28.

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