by Cathy Jones
‘Montesca’ is one of the first properties built on the 1878 Village of Homebush Estate and on Beresford Rd. ‘Montesca’ was built c.1886 by Rev. George King and later owned by the businessman John Love, and then former Strathfield Mayor and miller, George Davey. It was the childhood home of aviator and miller Nigel Love. ‘Montesca’ is a rare example of a Victorian Gothic house in the district of Strathfield.
The building site on which ‘Montesca’ was built was acquired in 1883 by Reverend George King (1813-1899) and house ‘Montesca’ was constructed in 1885-6. The Reverend George King was the Rector of St Thomas’ Enfield from 1872-79 and prior to building ‘Montesca’ he lived in various properties in Burwood according to Sands Directory.
Rev. King was born in County Tyrone in Ireland, and was ordained in 1837. He migrated to Western Australia with his wife and family in 1841 and settled in Fremantle where he built a church. He ran an institution for Aboriginal children and was openly critical of the attitude of settlers and the government towards Aborigines.
In 1847, King went to Sydney for health reasons and took charge of St Andrew’s parish, becoming involved in the development of the Cathedral. Rev. King become embroiled in church politics and in 1858 resented the infringement of his rights as incumbent when the Anglican Bishop Frederic Baker [1808-1882] appointed a Dean at the Cathedral. In 1860 told that he was not needed to assist in ordination, he had the doors of the Cathedral locked. This caused a public stir and some sympathy for his cause during following court cases.
His licence was revoked, but subsequently restored, and in 1863 he went to St Peter’s, Cooks River, and then to St Thomas’, although he did not feature in any further controversies. Rev. King was the father of Sir Kelso King, a prominent churchman and businessman, who was Chair of Mort’s Dock and Engineering Co, and a director of the Bank of NSW.
In 1860, the Rev. King helped to found he Institute for Deaf, Dumb and Blind [now Royal NSW Institute for Deaf and Blind Children], after coming into contact with a family of deaf children at St Andrews. He remained President for the first 19 years of the Institute, throughout his retirement. King Street, alongside St Thomas’ at Enfield is named for him.
In 1887, he wrote a book entitled ‘Reminiscences of the Rev. George King’. Rev. King’s widow, Jane King, was buried beside him in 1900. Jane King was a talented artist whose watercolours of wildflowers in Western Australia are preserved in the State Library of NSW. In 1991, Jane King’s scrapbooks, which included family portraits, photos and drawings dated c1831-c.1865 were presented to the State Library of NSW. Their daughter Georgina King was the first significant female geologist in Australia, and wrote a book on the Antiquity of Aborigines of Australia and Tasmania.
‘Montesca’ was sold in 1899, following the deaths of the Reverend and Mrs King, to John Love, a merchant, and his wife Rebecca. John Love was the principal of John Love & Sons, a City based merchant and importer firm. Love originally trained as a doctor in Edinburgh but came to Australia for his health. Prior to buying ‘Montesca’ Love lived at ‘Vinzrook’ in Carrington Ave, Strathfield.
John Love and his wife Rebecca lived at ‘Montesca’ until their deaths. Love’s son, Nigel Borland Love [1892-1979], a noted aviator and flour miller, spent his youth at ‘Montesca’. In 1924, he married Phyllis Davey, daughter of George A. Davey and his wife Mabel [nee Matters]. George Davey [1874-1954], lived next door to ‘Montesca’ at ‘Korrianda’ 1 Broughton Road [cnr Melrose St], was principal of Edwin Davey & Co, flour millers. Davey served on Strathfield Council as an Alderman [1922-48] and Mayor [1925 & 1927]. Davey Square and Davey Square Memorial are named for him.
After their marriage in 1924, Nigel and Phyllis Love moved from Strathfield but in 1941, they built a new home at 19-21 South Street Strathfield, which was close to Love’s business N. B Love Industries, flour mills, at Braidwood Street Enfield (now Strathfield South), which was established in 1935. In 1940, Love had taken over Edwin Davey & Sons, and in 1952, he formed Millmaster Feeds Pty Ltd with a separate mill at Braidwood Avenue, Enfield producing stock-feed pellets. In 1958, he started to manufacture bread at Enfield, introducing a high-speed dough development technique and also manufacturing gluten and starch, establishing N.B. Love Starches and N.B. Love Bakeries. In 1962, George Weston (Australia) Pty Ltd purchased the group then known as N.B. Love Industries.
In 1939, ownership of ‘Montesca’ passed from the Love family to George A. Davey. While owned by Davey, the frontage of the house which originally measured 227 feet, was reduced to 127 feet when the grounds were subdivided.
DEATH OF THE REV. GEORGE KING, LL.D. (1899, March 21). Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 – 1931), p. 3. Retrieved January 8, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article113700952
Green, Annette, ‘Village of Homebush ’ walking map, 1987
Fielding, J., ‘The Golden Grain: A history of Edwin Davey & Sons 1865-1985’.
Jackson, S., ‘A matter of grave importance’, St Thomas’s Enfield, 1999.
Jones, C, ‘Montesca’, Strathfield District Historical Society Newsletter, 2003
Sands Sydney and Suburban Directory 1890-1932
SIR KELSO KING DEAD (1943, February 8). Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954), p. 1. Retrieved February 10, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article140449099
Walker, J D., ‘Nigel Love’, Australian Dictionary of Biography 1891-1939.