Celestium & Celestium Lawn


The garden design of “Celestium” was inspired by the work of William Hardy Wilson, an Australian architect, artist and author (1881-1955). Like Tom Breen (Snr), Wilson contributed to Art in Australia, The Home, and The Sydney Morning Herald prior to WWII. In around 1917 Hardy Wilson designed a town plan for what he envisioned as a “perfect city” to be developed in the County of Cumberland, near Campbelltown, SW of Sydney. He may have had in mind that this town would be built by 1919 to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Queen Victoria, as the title of the plan by Hardy Wilson refers to the Queen’s birthday which was 24th May 1819.

The title of the Plan states: “CELESTIUM, in the County of Cumberland, New South Wales, in conformity with the starry heavens on the evening of the birthday of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, the twenty fourth day of May at eight o’clock”.

“Celestium” means the heavens, the sky. The Hardy Wilson plan of the envisaged City of Celestium was a square centred upon an “Octagon of the Sun”, in the middle of which was a pool. The streets were named after the stars of the Milky Way. There were city gates at the centres of its four walls. The design of Celestium at Breenhold is a reflection of this classical plan, centred on its Star Pool, with its gates under the archways at the centre of each of its four walls. It also provides a clear view of the sky, unhindered by trees. At Breenhold Celestium is an enclosed and intimate garden with its fountain and Star Pool at its centre.

Aerial view of the Celestium Garden

The sandstone blocks from which the walled garden of Celestium has been constructed also have a connection with an earlier time. Their origins lie on the foreshores of 19th century Sydney. The blocks were cut from a sandstone quarry at Pyrmont and used to build Retford Hall, which was one of the NSW Colony’s most imposing mansions. Designed by Edmund Blacket for the leading merchant Anthony Hordern, Retford Hall was built in 1865 on the foreshore of Sydney Harbour on Sydney’s Darling Point.

Demolished in 1967 to make way for an apartment building, a large number of the sandstone blocks from Retford Hall were purchased by Tom Breen (Snr) and trucked to Breenhold. Here they were reworked on site by a small team of skilled stonemasons and reconstructed as the Celestium quadrangle garden centred upon the Star Pool.


Celestium Lawn

Adjacent to Wombat Road, (a walking track rather than a road), and lying adjacent to Celestium is the Celestium Lawn. At one end is a distinctive carved stone seat, in front of a eucalypt tree. Forming a border with the Main Drive is a long line of Himalayan Cypresses, comprising two cultivars, planted alternatively. At the western end of the lawn is a small stand of Magnolia Grandiflora and behind them a line of American dogwood trees. In Spring the pink and white of the magnolia blossoms blend with the pale flowering dogwoods.