A rich architectural and agricultural heritage.
Built in the late 1890’s by Christian Frederick Mouritzen, a Public Works architect who came to York to supervise the building of the York Hospital it is representative of the brief edwardian era of architecture.
It was purchased in 1905 by the Marwick family, after which it remained in their possession for 6 generations until the 1990’s.
The Marwick family are central to the history of Laurelville, York and Western Australia.
William Marwick senior was born in Emneth England in 1833. In 1852 at the age of 18 the shores of the largely undeveloped lands of Australia and the lure of gold saw him board the ship Sir Walter Raleigh in Plymouth arriving in Fremantle in June 1852.
Walking 97 km from Perth to York in a single day he commenced work for Mr Burges at Tipperary earning 20 pounds a year for the next seven years. Through this he gradually acquired his own land and like so many other early pioneers in this district got his real start from the flourishing sandalwood industry. Together with his four sons he acquired and farmed over 20,000 acres of prime Western Australian land. He retired to England in 1897, leaving his sons to work the family properties as a joint business, Marwick Brothers Estate. Always committed to breeding fine pedigree stock, however, at the age of 80 years he returned with a boatload of some of the world’s finest rams.
Today the name of Marwick is synonymous with success and endeavour throughout this Avon District and beyond. In addition to farming interests members of the Marwick Family perform many public roles.
Warren Marwick (1869-1955) was an outstanding member of an outstanding pioneering family. One of the sons of William Marwick, they grew crops productively in the York district, and Warren, in particular, gained a reputation as one of the country’s most respected breeder of high quality sheep and horses. With the opening of the Goldfields in the 1890s the Marwick’s expanded their enterprise eastwards and Warren was the first farmer to take up the challenge of growing crops in the Southern Cross district. The success of his trials eventually led to the opening of the whole of the eastern wheat belt which now contributes substantially to the agricultural wealth of this State.
About the same time, Warren Marwick and his brothers developed an extensive coaching and carrying business in conjunction with the railway at Northam and in the Goldfields and at one time were proprietors of Cobb and Co in Western Australia. Marwick’s Shed was the point of departure to the goldfields or other destinations, and contained the necessary facilities for stabling, storage and vehicle maintenance. Fodder produced on Marwick’s land was milled and stored on the premises, meeting the needs of the business and also supplying other outlets. It remains one of the York’s more unusual, rustic and visually memorable buildings, and is considered to be a local landmark.
Warren Marwick was not simply a successful farmer and businessman but a prominent community man, leader and mentor. He was a committeeman and president of the York Agricultural Society, the York Municipal Council and the York Road Board for many years and, in a wider sphere, a member of the Legislative Council of Western Australia.
He was a founding director of Wesfarmers, now one of Australia’s largest and most successful companies and served for 37 years during the crucial foundation years of organisation. The first meeting of Wesfarmers was held in the York Mill.
After purchasing Laurelville in 1905, the Marwick’s added the South wing and enlarged the entry around 1914, however the building works were done without consideration of the property boundaries, so the house now sits across two separate titles, with the property boundary running right through the middle of the house. The extensive back additions, the top floor and iconic turret wing were added by the 5th generation of Marwicks to occupy the house (Warren Marwick and his wife Jennifer) in the 1980’s.
The original house is in beautiful condition, with jarrah floors, fire places, ornate cornices and ceiling roses. The windows are double hung sash windows, and have all been restored to working order. The glass in the front winds is original hand blown planes – small bubbles from the hand manufacture process can still be seen in the panes. The pink stained glass colour was achieved by the addition of gold to red glass – you can still see a small, un-melted piece of gold in the pane on the left hand side of the front door.
The windows at the back, although added later, consist of rolled glass, the windows having been salvaged from the East Perth power station.
At the back of the house is the cottage. This was the first residence on the property and is built from bricks hand made by convict labour.
The Marwick family sold Laurelville in 1997, at which time the gardens were stunning, with 500 rose bushes, over 10,000 bulbs, a peacock aviary covered in wisteria, and a fountain in the front lawn. After the sale, however, the gardens of Laurelville, along with the house, fell into disrepair and the property was sold at a mortgagee auction for less than half of its purchase price.
The house has now been completely renovated and the gardens are being restored with both house and garden providing a beautiful backdrop for wedding ceremonies and receptions in a setting reminiscent of a more graceful era.