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Stately mansion tells story of philanthropic solicitor

Currently, on the market, is a beautiful mansion located at 69 Braeside Street, Wahroonga, in the very leafy northern suburbs of Sydney, where a few spare million might get you a nice house.


Ravenscraig at Wahroonga. Courtesy: Ray White Real Estate.


The mansion, named Ravenscraig, was built in 1898 by architect George Leslie Grant for Sydney solicitor George Crichton Smith and his wife Isabella. It was built in the Scottish baronial style and incorporated the symbol of Mr Crichton Smith's heritage with the Scottish thistle prominent throughout the two storey building.


From around 1915 to the mid 1930s the couple would hold garden inspections or parties on the expansive grounds that surrounded their home, raising money for the Kindergarten Union, the Girls' Realm Guild in aid of a motor ambulance or the Red Cross Society.


Their garden parties were a social experience with well stocked stalls of home-made goods, tennis, croquet and putting competitions for the entertainment of guests. There were even bridge tables arranged indoors.


Their garden was often mentioned in the pages of the Sydney papers dedicated for green thumbs. It seems, however, that it was not only those who loved their flowers that took an interest in the Crichton Smith's residence.


George Crichton Smith. Courtesy WikiTree


In 1938, in an early morning in September, Mr Crichton Smith discovered a 21-year-old man by the name of John Burrell in his home. The man claimed he had slept on a couch all night in the billiard room. He had hidden in a cupboard and was armed with a toy pistol when found. It was stated that overstudy for a school examination had caused a breakdown in the accused's mental health. He was subsequently handed over to a mental hospital.


Mr Crichton Smith owned, in various partnerships, his solicitor business, located in the Sydney CBD. Starting out in 1897 as Smith Crichton and Monahan, to Crichton Smith, Innes & Kay by 1938. Even after his death the business carried on as Smith Crichton, Taylor & Scott.



The final resting place for the ashes of George and Isabella Crichton Smith at Northern Suburbs Crematorium. Courtesy WikiTree


On January 31, 1945 the couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, but sadly it would only be the following year that Isabella would have to bury her husband. She followed 9 years later, dying on 13th April, 1955. Their ashes are at the Northern Suburbs Crematorium in Sydney.


References

  • 'Inspection of Gardens', The Sydney Morning Herald, Wednesday 30 September, 1931, Page 5

  • 'Golden Weddings', The Sydney Morning Herald, Wednesday 31 January, 1945, Page 16

  • 'Wahroonga Garden Party', The Daily Telegraph, Monday 30 April 1934, Page 11

  • 'Garden Fete at Wahroonga', Evening News, Thrusday 18 March, 1915, Page 3

  • 'Armed with a toy pistol', Cootamundra Herald, Monday 26 September 1938, Page 1

  • 'George Crichton Smith (1865-1946)', WikiTree, accessed 19th July, 2023, https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Smith-129411





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