A history of Yengo and its garden

Yengo was built by Jesse Gregson (1837-1919) who landed at Sydney Cove on 6 January 1856 with fifty sovereigns in his purse and some letters of introduction in his pocket. Gregson’s father was a solicitor who practised at Rochford in Essex and after a sound schooling Jesse had been articled to him. But, wrote the apprentice, while "I had a liking for the profession, I had no great enthusiasm for study", and at the age of eighteen, he decided, his father approving, to seek his fortune in Australia. 

One of the first tasks given this eager and capable young man was overlanding a flock of sheep. For a while he worked on the land - mostly as a pastoralist in central Queensland. On Ist August 1870 he married Katie, the widow of Alexander McLean, a former Surveyor-General of New South Wales. Settling finally in the city, he discovered Mt Wilson through friends. "Mr. Merewether's account of the scenery and the climate of Mount Wilson," Gregson tells us in his autobiography, "induced me to follow his example...from 1880 onwards we never missed a summer at Yengo, generally going there early in December and remaining till April. Yengo was to me and to all the children a home we were always glad to come to and always sorry to leave".

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The gardens at Yengo were laid out between 1877 and 1880 under the supervision of Charles Moore, Director of the Sydney Botanical Gardens. Gregson was particularly interested in horticulture and through his association with Moore, was able to obtain many rare specimens of trees. He was the first person to collect native plants at Mount Wilson and his specimens are preserved in the National Herbarium of New South Wales. The collection made by his son, Edward Gregson, is permanently housed at the University of New England. The Government Botanist, J. H. Maiden, was also a constant visitor to Yengo and collected plants in this area. Many of the trees seen in the garden today were the first of their kind planted in Australia.

The main house, designed in the classic Australian country style, is built in local sandstone, with a wide wraparound flagstone verandahs, is a handsome reminder of the architectural glory of our Colonial past. Over a century after it was built and its garden planted, Yengo is a serene, sun-filled and shadowed delight and the perfect setting for sculpture which can be viewed in many parts of the garden.

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