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Hordern Family Sells Bellevue Hill Estate After 80+ Years of Ownership

By Todd Alexander


One of Australia’s most prominent families of last century have sold their long-held Bellevue Hill estate for more than $21 million, ending 84 years of continuous family ownership.

Three generations of the Horderns have called the Mediterranean-style residence home since it was commissioned in 1934 as a wedding gift for Samuel Hordern and June Baillieu by their fathers, pastoralist and merchant Sir Samuel Hordern and Melbourne’s Clive Baillieu, of the political and stockbroking family.

The Hordern family’s Bellevue Hill home remains one of the best examples of Leslie Wilkinson’s work. Photo: Steven Woodburn

In a fitting salute to the union of two such established families, acclaimed architect of the day Leslie Wilkinson was commissioned to design the newly weds’ home on a corner parcel of the neighbouring Rona estate, purchased for £6000.

The eight-bedroom residence on 2700 square metres remains standing today and is regarded as one of the best preserved examples of Wilkinson’s work.

Gavin Rubinstein and Elliott Placks, of Ray White Double Bay, were gagged by confidentiality orders from revealing the sale price after it sold late on Thursday night, but were asking $22 million. It was left to an independent source to confirm the sale price, which is expected to settle at close to the guide and certainly above the $21 million mark.

The estate is set on 2700 square metres on what was originally part of the Rona estate. 

The eight-bedroom residence is currently home to Samuel Hordern Snr, who was born there, his wife Joy, and their youngest son Samuel. Elder son Anthony has already moved out but shares ownership of the house with his brother.

The family’s decision to sell was in part prompted by the costly and ongoing maintenance costs associated with the heritage-listed residence.

When it was listed two years ago Anthony Hordern told Domain: “It’s a very big property, it’s expensive to maintain and it has to be maintained. With a property like this you want to maintain it to give it its due respect.”

There is an east and west wing to the residence, at the centre of which is a grand entry foyer and the formal living rooms.

The late Samuel Hordern remained living at the residence after it was completed until he died in a  car accident in 1960. His his widow June lived on in the home’s west wing until she died in 1999, aged 90. It was in a rundown state when she died, but Joy Hordern has overseen a renovation and restoration over the past 20 years.

The swimming pool was added in the late 1980s.

Set behind a walled entry with a church-style forecourt on Ginahgulla Road, it retains the Hordern family coat of arms in the facade and Spanish Mission-style arched doorways, curved balconies and sandstone terraces.

A who’s who of trophy home hunters have inspected the historic property since it was listed two years ago.

The east and west wings overlook a vast, north-facing garden with a century-old magnolia tree on the east boundary.

“It’s been a happy house,” Samuel Hordern Snr said in 2016. “But a house doesn’t make the family.”

The Horderns rose to prominence in Australia for founding retail giant Anthony Hordern and Sons, which until the 1950s was Australia’s largest department store and known in its heyday as Hordern’s Emporium – a retailer of everything from “a needle to an anchor”.

The historic property has lured a who’s who of Sydney’s trophy home shoppers since it was listed, including the founding partner of MBP Partners Lawrence Myers and his wife Sylvia. The couple recently bought the Rose Bay waterfront trophy home of retail billionaire Brett Blundy.

View the listing here.

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