‘Verani’ 24 Homebush Rd Strathfield

by Cathy Jones

24 Homebush Road is located on Lot 11, Section 1 of the 1878 subdivision of the Underwood Estate, known as the ‘Village of Homebush’. 

This land itself was a subdivision of the Underwood estates, which had acquired a number of land grants including the original 1793 Frederick Meredith land grant in which this house is sited. The 1878 ‘Village of Homebush’ estate contained a road extension called Bellevue Street that connected with Homebush Road, which had been laid out in the subdivision of the adjacent Redmire Estate in 1867.  Bellevue Street was renamed Homebush Road at a later time.

‘Verani’ 24 Homebush Road Strathfield is only one of three terrace style houses in Strathfield.  Lot 11 was purchased in April 1888 by land agent David Hazlewood for £237-10-0, who built the house.

Hazlewood (1855-1932) was the son of the Rev. Hazlewood, a Methodist missionary and compiler of standard dictionary of the Fijian language (Dean 1932).  Though Hazlewood’s father died in the year of his birth, Hazlewood grew up in the Methodist Church and was an active participant in the Church throughout his life (Dean 1932). Hazlewood formed a partnership with Benjamin Chapman as Chapman & Hazlewood, land agents, which operated from City premises (Finigan 1937).  Like Hazlewood, Chapman was the son of a Methodist minister and active in the Church. Chapman worked for Ebenezer Vickery, a devout Methodist, before forming the partnership with Hazlewood (Finigan 1937).

"Verani" 24 Homebush Road Strathfield
“Verani” 24 Homebush Road Strathfield

In 1908, Hazlewood founded the horticultural and nursery of Hazlewood Bros at Epping, which traded until 1976 (Dean 1932). He married Miss S L Hodgson in 1879.
Hazlewood’s daughter Dorothy married Professor Walter Lawry Waterhouse.

The house name ‘Verani’ is likely reference to the young Fijian warrior Verani of Viwa.  Verani converted to Christianity in 1845 as a result of teachings by Methodist missionaries, which helped bring about the end of canabalism (Pritchard 2016: 76). According to Pritchard (2016: 76) Verani was the local pronunciation of the word French and he was given the name after sharing in the capture of a French ship, whose crew were eaten. On becoming a Christian, he took the name of Elijah and was later murdered (Illustrated Sydney News 1885). ‘Viwa’ was also the name of a house in Burlington Road Homebush, where Hazlewood lived prior to ‘Verani’. ‘Viwa’ was owned by Dr George Hurst, the son of Rev Hurst, also a Wesleyan Minister.

In 1894, ‘Verani’ was transferred to the mortgagees, John Henry Stephenson and David Roxburgh apparently on foreclosure. Ownership was unchanged until 1915, when ‘Verani’ was purchased by Henry Joseph Bishop. The Bishop family owned the house until 1968.

‘Verani’ is listed as a heritage item on Strathfield Council’s Local Environmental Plan.  The statement of significance/description of Verani (Fox & Associates 1986) states:

Verani, a two storey Victorian house was built in 1888 for David Hazlewood, a property agent. Constructed of dichromatic Flemish brick it has an asymmetrical façade with a slate gable roof, corrugated iron bull nosed verandah roof, timber barge and finial, arched top windows, brick voussoirs and fan and side lights to the entry.  The verandah features a cast iron valance, brackets and balustrade.  The house is screened from the street by planting and has a timber fence and curved entry path.  Verani helps to illustrate the range of good quality housing built in the Underwood Estate in the late nineteenth century.

References

Fox & Associates, ‘Verani – Inventory sheet no. 93’, Strathfield Heritage Study, 1986.

Dean, W A (Rev)., 1932, In Memorium – David Hazlewood, The Methodist, Saturday 6 August 1932, p13.

Finigan, R., 1937, In Memorium, Mr B H Chapman, The Methodist, Saturday 24 July 1937, p13

Malcolm C S, ‘Verani 24 Homebush Rd, Strathfield District Historical Society Newsletter, Vol.3 No.5, January 1981

Murray, A W, 1885 Martyrs of Polynesia, Illustrated Sydney News, 17 January, page 18

Pritchard, J, 2016, Methodists and their Missionary Societies 1760-1900, Routledge Methodist Studies Series

Strathfield Council Valuation List