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Clarendon  |  European History and Heritage
 
Vineyards and Police Station date unknown

On 21 October 1840, Richard Blundell was granted the title to Section 801 Hundred of Noarlunga. In 1846, the land was conveyed to James Philcox who subdivided and sold a number of allotments and called it the township of Clarendon. In 1848, what remained of the section was sold to George Morphett who later surveyed more allotments, and other individuals also added adjacent blocks to the town.

By 1866, the town was described as a regional centre ‘in the midst of a fine agricultural district, where wheat, peas, and potatoes are largely grown’. By this time, a fine vineyard had been created and wine was being made in a magnificent two-storey complex to the south of the main street.
Clarendon is one of South Australia’s finest historic towns. The built heritage of Clarendon – in its winery complex, former police station, shops, institute, churches, hotel, school and houses – has been revitalised during the last twenty years.

Dating mainly from the late 1850s to the 1870s, these buildings are constructed of local stone that is mellow and warm in colour.

Much of the town’s early trade was built around local vineyards and around proximity to the Onkaparinga River and a rich farming hinterland. This economy was enhanced when, between 1894 and 1896 the Clarendon Weir was constructed. Eventually, the weir was linked by pipeline to Happy Valley reservoir.

By the 1940s, though, despite the fine early planning, the town and its amenities were said to wear ‘an air of neglect and even decay’. Yet within another thirty-five years, some locals and developers had seen the potential of the town’s heritage and with local government began a restoration program.

The Clarendon vineyards were developed on land purchased by William Leigh, a well-known ship’s surgeon, in December 1846. A vineyard was developed for Leigh by 1849, probably by one or other of the Morphett brothers, John and George. Later, E.J. Peake took over the management of the place and, eventually, expanded the vineyard and assisted in the construction of the winery. By the 1890s, Joseph Gillard had assumed control and was running the winery with notable success.
The buildings themselves, restored in the 1970s and 1980s, retain much of their original character.