Retford Park opens its doors as part of Southern Highlands Arts Festival | PHOTOS

The doors to a historic Southern Highlands mansion were opened to the public last week, as guests were invited inside to view the Victorian estate-turned house museum of art collector and public benefactor James Fairfax.

As part of the month-long Southern Highlands Arts Festival, Scott Pollock, the newly-appointed manager of the site, organised guided tours though the gardens and home of Retford Park, a site that holds great heritage significance.

Guests admire the artwork in the morning room of the house at Retford Park. Photo: Charli Shield.

Guests admire the artwork in the morning room of the house at Retford Park. Photo: Charli Shield.

John Mullholland, who managed the estate for more than 30 years alongside his wife Sharon, led all five group tours. 

He shared anecdotes and little-known facts about Mr Fairfax and his sprawling estate, as he guided guests through the two-storey building and its lush surrounds. 

Mr Fairfax bequeathed the estate to the National Trust before he died in January 2017 at the age of 83, believing it should be preserved for the enjoyment and benefit of future generations, particularly those in the Highlands. 

The tour included a walk through the gardens. Photo: Charli Shield

The tour included a walk through the gardens. Photo: Charli Shield

The house was built in 1887 by merchant and stockbreeder, Samuel Hordern, and his wife Jane nee Booth.

Designed by Albert Bond, the house at Retford Park is a grand rendered brick Italianate style residence set on a low rise.

It was in 1964 that Mr Fairfax brought the property and started to transform it from an agricultural property into what it is today.