What is significant?
The elevated site for Bishopscourt was selected by BishopPerry,firstBishop of Melbourne, in 1848. Tenders for Bishopscourt werecalledbyarchitects Newson and Blackburn in 1849. The site was partlyclearedandconstruction began only to be delayed by labour shortagescaused bytheonset of the Gold Rush. In 1851 architects Russell andThomascalledtenders for the completion of Bishopscourt, and by January1853 itwasready for occupation by Bishop Perry and his wife. Whencompletedin1853 Bishopscourt consisted of a two-storey bluestonebuildingwithtower, flanked on the north side by a one-storey wing. Inlate1854architect Charles Swyer was engaged to lay out the grounds butitisunknown what these works actually were. It is possible thatNewsonandBlackburn were the principle garden designers, siting theresidenceinits corner position east of an ancient River Red Gum whichsurvivedonthe site until the 1990s. In 1857 a reservation was made foracathedralto be built alongside Bishopscourt, between Hotham andGeorgeStreets,but eventually the parish church of Holy Trinity usedthesite.Bishopscourt became Government House temporarily between 1874and1876.Fifty years after its construction Bishopscourt was foundcostlytomaintain, inconvenient and unsatisfactory as a residenceandarecommendation was made for its demolition and replacement.Therewasmuch deliberation and a compromise was met and in 1903thenorthbluestone wing was demolished and replaced with a brickwing.ArchitectsInskip and Butler who also altered the gardens at thistimedesigned theFederation Queen Anne Domestic style red brick wing.Lateradditionswere carried out on the east side of the red brick sectioninthe 1960s.Of the original 1853 house only the bluestone exteriorandtowersurvive. The interior of the building has been altered manytimesasBishopscourt was renovated before each new bishop or archbishopmoved in.
How is it significant?
Bishopscourt is of historical, social,aesthetic,architectural,scientific and archaeological significance tothe State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
Bishopscourt is of historical and social significance as theoldesthousein East Melbourne and as the residence of the Anglican BishopandlaterArchbishop of Melbourne since 1853. Being the last intacturbanestate inthe City of Melbourne the grounds of Bishopscourt areofoutstandinghistorical significance. Bishopscourt is a raresurvivingexample withininner Melbourne of a mansion with its gardensettingstill remainingsubstantially intact. The Bishopscourt gardens areofsocial significanceas they have been the venue of officialhospitality,garden parties,fetes and carnivals over many years.
Bishopscourt is of architectural significance as the bluestonesectionofthe house is an important example of early Melbournearchitecture.Itsassymmetrical form with tower and arcades was theprecursor of manygrandMelbourne mansions. The rubbled bluestone, simplemouldings andFrenchwindows reflect early building techniques. The 1903red brickaddition isof architectural interest as an interesting solutionto adesign problemand for its detailing to enable its integration withthe1853 bluestonesection. Bishopscourt is of great aestheticsignificancefor therelationship between the residence and grounds,forming animpressivespace that continues the grand proportions of theadjacentFitzroyGardens. The position of the residence and thepicturesquelandscape witha sweeping drive and lawn creates the illusionof muchlarger grounds.The enclosed formal south garden with fountain isalsoof aestheticimportance contributing to the picturesque landscape.
The Bishopscourt gardens have landscape and scientificsignificancefortheir collection of mature plants, particularly trees ofevergreenanddeciduous species. Because of their historic, aesthetic,botanical and in certain instances scientific (notably T8 Ilex perado subsp.platyphylla and T13 Ficus rubiginosa) significance, the trees recorded in the extent of registration provide an importantcontribution and context to the place.The north east corner of the sitein particularis of archaeologicalimportance for its potential to yieldinformation onthe outbuildings,cess pits and glasshouses which onceoccupied the site.