Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Fernleigh, Kempton

The elegant house now known as 'Fernleigh' "was built in the 1830s by Thomas Gorringe, a free settler who was granted 800 acres by Governor Macquarie in 1821. Gorringe was a doctor who left a large medical practice in Brighton (England) to seek his fortune and provide for his large and increasing family." Thomas originally named his property “Woodville”. Once established on his grant, Thomas Gorringe combined his medical practice with brewing beer and became very well known for the quality of his beer.

There are many references to Thomas in books relating to the early colonial days. He was a well-known figure in the Colony, being a Medical Attendant to road gangs at Green Ponds. He was appointed a Catechist and Lecturer in 1826 and in that capacity conducted services at St. Mary’s Church of England in Green Ponds, and was the first Rector of the Church. He held this position until the arrival of the first Chaplain about two years later.

During this time it was largely though his efforts that a chapel was built there. Gorringe gave £5 towards it, as did a Miss Gorringe (believed to have been his sister). He was also granted a licence to brew beer. In the Land Board’s report on his application for an additional grant dated 4 March 1829 it states that he had given up brewing and was then devoting himself solely to agricultural pursuits. He was granted an extra 500 acres at Green Ponds. In the early 1830s he was living in a house called "Spring Grove".

Early on in the 1800's there was a tennis court on "Fernleigh" and games of tennis were played there competitively with other towns. Dr Gorringe died at his home "Woodville", in 1858, aged 79 years. He is buried in a family vault in the little graveyard at the Congregational Church, Kempton. The house is now a very impressive private residence.

Main Text & Information Sources -  
Interpretive Sign at the Site

Interpretive Sign at the Site


  1. Hello, I'm the great, great, great grand daughter of Doctor Thomas Francis Gorringe (snr). I would like to correct a few things that you have listed in this information:
    1. Dr Thomas Francis Gorringe did not own "Fernleigh" it was his son Thomas Francis Gorringe (Jnr) who lived there with his wife Isabella (nee) Burnett; Dr Gorringe lived and died in a house called "Woodville" now "Lauriston" owned by Johnsons;
    2. Dr Thomas Gorringe isn't buried in the family vault, his burial plot is number 93, his sister Elizabeth is plot 114 and plot 240 is the vault where Thomas Gorringe (Jnr)s family are buried including Elizabeth Letitia Lowther who is Doctor Thomas Francis Gorringe's wife's mothers sister who lived in "Lonsdale" and died there in 1841.
    I hope this makes it a little clearer, I know there is a lot of misinformation out there and it needs to be corrected.

    Thank you Ms Gorringe

    1. Thank you for your information, Ms Gorringe. Its good to have corrections supplied if there's incorrect info in the text. You're quite right, there is a lot of information out there, some of it is wrong.