Time capsule from 1892 located underneath historic North Richmond mansion

Thursday, 8th March, 2018

A copy of the Sydney Morning Herald from February 29, 1892 found in the Belmont House time capsule. Photo: Geoff Jones

A TIME capsule buried for more than 125 years beneath the foundation stone of North Richmond’s Belmont House has finally given up its secrets.

A total of 88 coins, a Sydney Morning Herald and a scroll containing information about the house, its owners and its builders were contained in the time capsule, removed from its sub-floor position between the mansion’s bearers and joists on March 5.

The capsule was ceremoniously buried during the laying of the building’s foundation stone on February 29, 1892, at the site of the modern-day St John of God Hospital. It was accessed by drilling through stone under the floor and was opened by St John of God chief executive Steve Brooker.

“This foundation stone was laid by Adeline May Charley aged two years and two months, born at Strathfield … daughter of Philip and Clara Charley, who are erecting this house and who also the owners of 2,000 acres of land around this house,” the scroll stated.

The scroll also contained details about the cost of the building – 20,000 pounds – and names its architect as Mr Pitt of North Richmond. The contractors – A. and J. Howie – are listed, as are 60 names of those present at the laying of the foundation stone.

Adrian Howie – grandson of the house’s original builders - and Friends of Belmont House and Colo Shire Family History Society member Neil Renaud initiated the capsule’s recovery after discovering an article from the Windsor and Richmond Gazette dated March 5, 1892 that reported on the foundation stone ceremony.

Jeff Menzies was given the task of locating the time capsule from the article.

“Without that article it would’ve been impossible to locate the time capsule,” he said. “[It was] hidden in amongst the foundations of the house below the stone.

“The time capsule was buried in the base stone which is directly underneath the foundation stone. It took a bit of locating … it was buried in a trough that was dug into the stone that was laid beneath that stone, and it was in a glass bottle that was cemented in.

“During the location process we broke the bottle, but didn’t damage any of the contents. It took us about six hours to locate and two hours to remove the stone behind it.”

Mr Howie said he found the article while he was researching the historic home.

“I’ve always known that Belmont House was built by my family, because my father used to tell me that many years ago,” Mr Howie said. “When I retired I decided that I would write about that history … and came across this article, which said in it that there had been a capsule placed under the foundation stone.

“I drew that to the attention of the [Colo Shire Family History Society] and it all went from there.”

The items found in the time capsule will be on display at celebrations to mark the mansion’s 125th anniversary, taking place on Thursday, March 8.

St John of God staff plan to replace the capsule with a modern-day equivalent.

Hawkesbury Gazette

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