CURRENTLY ONE OF THE FASTEST GROWING AREAS IN THE HILLS and Hawkesbury district, Box Hill stands just inside The Hills Shire boundary bordering the Hawkesbury Council area. Box Hill House
The Terry and Rouse families were very prominent early settlers in the district. Samuel Terry acquired Box Hill Farm in 1819 from Robert Fitz who had found himself in financial difficulties. In 1831, John Terry, stepson of Samuel married Eleanor Rouse thus linking the two neighbouring families. John and Eleanor lived at Box Hill Farm from 1831 to 1834. A further linking of the two families occurred in 1895 when then owner of Box Hill Farm, George Terry married his cousin Nina Rouse.
As an aside, Nina later recalled when discussing the marriage “It was quite an event, because we were both well known in the neighbourhood. A special train left Redfern at 9.25am that day, and guests were met at Riverstone Station, which was garlanded with flowers and bunting. There were flags and decorations the whole way to Christ Church at Rouse Hill and after the ceremony the villagers unleashed the horses on the bridal carriage and dragged it up the hill to the wedding breakfast set out in the arcade.” The arcade is a covered area at the rear of Rouse Hill House.
1896 saw George and Nina substantially rebuild Box Hill House retaining only four rooms of what was a second house.
In 1919 the bulk of the estate was subdivided into small farmlets and offered for sale on two pounds deposit and five shillings per month for each twenty pounds of purchase price. The auctioneers announced “Big auction sale of about 170 of the choicest of farms and farmlets in the County of Cumberland.
Unlocked at last after being held, occupied, and continuously improved by four generations of Terrys for over a century”. Nina and George later took up residence at Rouse Hill House in 1924, after George was declared bankrupt in 1921 and Box Hill House was transferred to Nina who also later became bankrupt in 1924. The remaining 212 acres was then sold and the Terry family moved to Rouse House, which Nina and her sister Kathleen had inherited from their mother, Bessie.
Then owner of Box Hill Farm, William McCall, (later to become Sir William McCall) in the 1950s put the farm up for sale. Hazel Nelson noticed it advertised by a Windsor Real Estate Agent and sought out William McCall with a view of inspecting the property for the possible use as a home for handicapped persons.
Hazel Nelson was a founding member of the Sub-Normal Children’s Welfare Association had also organised the establishment of the Handicapped Children’s After-care Co-operative Society. Hazel spoke to Mr McCall’s son Bill who told her his father was “at the pictures”. Mr McCall rang Hazel at 10:45pm that night and he and Hazel spoke till 2am the next morning.
An appointment was made for the following Monday. They met on several subsequent occasions and Mr McCall nicknamed Hazel “Dynamite”. Hazel remembered Mr McCall saying, “I’ve never been known to give more than a pound to charity. If you give too generously they don’t feel they have to work for it”.
In 1956 a joint meeting of the HCACS and SCWA supported the acquisition of Box Hill Farm. Four representatives, including Hazel, then met Mr McCall at his Martin Place office to pay the deposit on the purchase. When the Secretary produced the cheque book Mr McCall said, “There’s no need for that.
I’m giving it to the Association through Mrs. Nelson. You have no money, but I admire your spirit”. Mr McCall’s donation comprised the original 43 acres and building. Shortly after this the Association purchased 10 acres to give more frontage to Terry Road and better access to the home.
Much of the information has been provided to me through The Heritage Council of NSW through the “Heritage Conservation News” Vol 4, Number 3 of 1987 as well as through the 1975 booklet “The McCall Garden Colony Box Hill, Via Riverstone N.S.W” by Judith Lewis.