‘Denholm’ | A private retreat in the heart of Woollahra

Price upon request
Woollahra, New South Wales, Australia
Status: Active

Woollahra’s best kept secret, Denholm is an exceptional mansion and a property which must be seen to be believed. A landmark estate of substantial presence and outstanding proportions that retains the elegance of its era, it has been re-adapted to provide the highest standard of contemporary living with commensurate privacy and security and truly outstanding amenity.

Designed by renowned Australian architect Robert S. (Robin) Dods (the great uncle of Espie Dods), it is a rare example of his work in New South Wales. Denholm was built for Sydney solicitor Mr Percy Williamson in 1922. Mr Williamson lived there for over 30 years after which it was purchased by barrister John Atwill, later the President of the Liberal Party of Australia and knighted in 1978 for his services to commerce. Sir John and Lady (Susan) Atwill were gracious hosts and during their ownership of almost 50 years they welcomed a range of distinguished guests including Baroness Thatcher. In its over 100 year history Denholm has had only 4 owners. The present owner has embarked on a program of renewal, renovation and new construction taking over three years to create a unique private compound in the heart of Woollahra’s prestigious consular belt.

Denholm offers a world of privacy and amenity behind its imposing yet elegant gates, belying the fact it is a mere five minute level walk to Queen Street village and all of the amenities Woollahra has to offer.

Expansive Scale, Intimate Spaces

Situated behind high walls and abundant landscaping, the property is its own private retreat on a holding of 1,075m2, some three times the average Woollahra landholding. With a commanding street frontage, the grand home welcomes you through secure vehicular and separate pedestrian gates into an understated yet distinctive elegance. The foyer is distinguished by high beamed ceilings, herringbone-laid original parquetry and the grandeur of classical Georgian proportions.

Formal dining and living areas are beautifully proportioned and distinguished by equally high original ornate paneled ceilings, stately gas fireplaces and exquisite fenestration. Parliament-hinged doors fully fold out for seamless indoor-outdoor access to each of the private tranquil courtyard which adjoins the two living rooms and the separate patio area adjoining the dining room. The front courtyard is a haven of privacy and elegance, the perfect place to receive guests for pre-dinner cocktails and aperitifs while listening to the fully integrated outdoor surround sound Sonos system hidden in the garden areas. The 5,000 litre koi pond and fountains it contains are a spectacular addition to this space, especially during the evenings with the abundance of discretely placed garden and outdoor feature lighting.

Denholm comprises three stand-alone fully functional separate buildings and residences. Unlike many properties which boast nanny and guest quarters, at Denholm the term “separate” guest and other accommodation genuinely means separate. In addition to the main house, the property boasts an office building, guest accommodation building with terrace and a further separate building containing duplex with accommodation and study as well as gymnasium and steam room.

Each separate residence has its own fully contained facilities including kitchen, laundry and bathroom. The office also has its own kitchen facilities concealed beneath bespoke onyx stonework, one of several kitchens perfect for caterers and outdoor functions.

Despite its long list of facilities and expansive scale, Denholm has been conceived with a clean and elegant aesthetic that ensures nothing extraneous is visible: when a television or the outdoor cinema are not in use they are nowhere to be seen. The same applies to the sunbathing screen. Even the property’s bin storage (conveniently located near the main gates) is entirely concealed behind its own enclosure. Separate trades and outdoor access and storage is located at the southern end of the property, which also forms its own discrete trades entrance and conceals ample further storage and separate dog kenneling area.

The property provides an abundance of tranquility and privacy from the outside world. The magnificent fig tree and lush landscaping around the entire property conceal it from neighbouring buildings, a rarity in Woollahra, and the entire garden areas are replete with abundant feature lighting. The mature kentia palms and frangipani were specially craned into the property into areas located and built especially for them to maximise privacy and amenity for not only the main residence but all outdoor areas as well.

The Unexpected

A property of almost 1,100m2 in the heart of Woollahra with Denholm’s privacy and features is already extremely rare. But the stunning level of amenity apparent from entering Denholm is surpassed only by features seamlessly concealed in a manner of which even James Bond would be proud.

Adjoining the vast kitchen with its Wolf and SubZero appliances and casual dining and living areas is a substantial walk-in butler’s pantry. A false wall containing a secret door leads to a vast and lavishly appointed temperature-controlled and dehumidified cellar. In addition to perfect cellaring for well over 2,500 bottles, the cellar areas comprise their own tasting room, full kitchen and living area with concealed (mirror) television, lounge and stunning glass display areas. Further concealed doors and other concealed features abound, culminating in direct access to underground garaging for two vehicles in the custom designed and built car vaults. That area contains not only additional vast storage for wine and other items, it also comprises a concealed private armoury. It leads directly to the two bespoke custom engineered car vaults and lifts that allow discrete vehicular storage under the driveaway, an integral part of the property’s parking which accommodates off-street parking for at least 4 additional vehicles above ground.

The car lifts themselves are engineering masterpieces. Custom designed and built in Australia from heavy grade steel, they match precisely the gradient profile of the driveway for ultimate concealment and discretion. Eschewing the hydraulic mechanisms used in standard commercial car lifts, the lifts at Denholm use a screw jack mechanism which provides not only far greater energy efficiency but also immensely superior safety and reliability. The concept is the same as that employed on the highly mechanised weapons handling systems (HMWHS) of modern aircraft carriers for their plane lifts and on nuclear reactor tunnel plug lid lifts for submarines and other nuclear vessels. Redundancy is built into everything at Denholm and these facilities are no exception: spare new electric motors, drive shafts and gearboxes are already in place on the property. In the unlikely event they are ever needed they merely need to be swapped out for the redundant part. Each car lift has been designed with a lift capacity of 60 tons. They have been configured with excess capacity electric motors to operate at only a fraction of their tolerance to ensure longevity. They are but one example of how everything at Denholm has been configured and built to the most exacting and highest standards, with maximum forethought and quality.

Superb Amenity and Handcrafted Finishes

Despite its grand proportions, Denholm is truly a home which offers exceptional comfort and practicality. The informality of the enormous kitchen and casual dining areas make them perfect for relaxed entertaining and family occasions. The courtyard joining the kitchen has its own separate dining area, easily accessible to the kitchen through the bay windows immediately adjacent to it and making casual al fresco entertaining simple. For more formal occasions, the impressive dining room is perfectly suited and situated in proximity to the kitchen and butler’s pantry. Living areas are gracious, spacious and elegant. Bedrooms are similarly large, all with their own built in storage. The owner’s bedroom is presently configured as a master suite encompassing separate large living and seating areas as well as concealed television and further storage. The master suite has its own separate lady’s and gentleman’s bathroom facilities. The attic is accessed both by custom built yachting pole and, for those more sedate, automatic deploying staircase (controlled by hard switch and phone). It includes its own living areas, storage, skylights and separate WC facilities.

The property offers a multitude of outdoor dining, cocktail and private entertainment areas. They include the front courtyard, the patio adjoining the formal dining room, the intimate sofa and firepit areas under the shade of the kentia palms, a large rear courtyard with its own dining area and of course the stunning pool areas, deckchair and sun lounging areas and the seating area under the distinctive red pyramid. The latter doubles as an outdoor cinema area: with the touch of a button a cinema projector rises and shoots across the saltwater heated pool for evenings of genuinely cinema-quality viewing with surround sound. The pool’s automatic covers conceal into their own seating bench for the ultimate cinema and pool party experience. Additional amenities include full gymnasium, self-contained steam room with shower and separate WC and outdoor resort shower.

All lighting (internal and external), air conditioning and heating, security cameras, fountains and Sonos music system are controlled with the touch of an iPhone or iPad (with physical switching also present). The Sonos system comprises over 20 separate zones across the property including front and rear courtyards and garden areas with an abundance of weatherproof specific-purpose outdoor speakers discretely concealed within garden areas to optimise true surround and immersive sound from any location on the property.

The heated cinema area is a triumph of audio-visual engineering with truly exceptional cinema quality projection and audio at the touch of a button – and absolute invisibility when not in use. The gardens around the entire property are all fully irrigated, again with the touch of a button from one’s phone. Owner and staff access to the property and buildings is also controlled with the touch of an iPhone and through the issue of electronic entry cards or fobs which are able to be programmed individually e.g. to enable outside staff to access the property during specific time windows set by the owner. Bathroom and office flooring are all limestone with underfloor heating, all with exhaust fans and most with their own separate Sonos zones.

Security is, in a word, robust. In addition to back-to-base monitored alarm system the property has two separate simultaneously recording NVR’s, one of which is concealed in a separate area of the main house for both security and redundancy, and a plethora of cameras surrounding every perimeter which record 24/7 with infra-red night vision. The private armoury comprises two customn built fully concealed weapons-grade safes which conform to all legislative requirements, one of several secure, purpose built and concealed features within Denholm. Additionally, and again with the touch of a button, the property benefits from consular-grade floodlighting for ultimate night-into-day vision.

Unlike most residences of Denholm’s era, all network and internet connectivity has been hard wired for quality of transmission so that the usual unreliability of hotspot connections typically deployed in older residences has been eliminated entirely. For the same reason, all data cabling including for security cameras has been run in the one cable length without joins.

Denholm is truly a property for which the term “no expense spared” is genuine and meaningful, rather than the usual cliché.

The above description is not exhaustive. There are simply too many outstanding features within Denholm to list. It is a property which must be seen and experienced to be fully appreciated.

Inspections are strictly by pre-qualified appointment only.

Full Baths
Half Bath

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