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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
The Glebe

The property, which eventually became known as 'The Glebe' (due to its proximity to the 1861 St Pauls church; disused by c. 1900), was first settled by Donald Cameron in the 1850s. It had its origins in a 200-acre donation to the Church of England by absentee landowner Charles Campbell in the early 1840s. An acre was set aside for the church itself and another two acres for an adjacent cemetery.

There were two homesteads on the property. The first was probably built by the Cameron family, many of whom are buried in the destroyed cemetery nearby. It was a four-room pise (rammed mud) cottage with a separate two-roomed structure for the kitchen and was situated southeast of St Pauls. The house faced south, which meant that most visitors - who arrived from Hall and Ginninderra - entered through the northern kitchen. In 1897 a night fire destroyed the original cottage’s detached two-room kitchen. The event demonstrates the wisdom of the pioneer families who kept their kitchens detached from the bedrooms of the house.

A second, timber structure was built by the Gribble family in the early 1900s (pictured). It was situated northwest of St Pauls (at the end of modern Goossens Place).

The Glebe was leased by the church to a succession of tenants, with the funds administered by the church wardens of St Johns, Reid. Unfortunately, the funds raised were, more often than not in the early days, used for church expenses, which meant that the property suffered neglect, particularly the fences and quality of the pasture. Neighbours became used to complaining with little response from the church authorities. Edward Crace was so concerned about the spread of noxious weeds from The Glebe that he even threatened to discontinue tithing and to use his money for weed control instead. However, most of the later clergy proved to be better landlords and, in bad times, even permitted reductions in rent for tenants.

The Gribble family leased The Glebe from at least the late 1880s and made a number of improvements. They built sheds to house the 15-ton traction engine and chaff-cutting plant and equipment operated by the family (where the Copeland College tennis courts now stand). The homestead was occupied by their eldest son, William Gribble and his family.

When neighbouring St Pauls church became derelict in the mid 1900s, Gribble used the building as a garage.

In 1915 the Government resumed The Glebe, compensating Bishop Radford £1,135 pounds (but not the Gribbles for their improvements). The Gribbles, therefore, had new landlords and ran the property until the lease was terminated by the Commonwealth in 1971 for its development plans at Belconnen. The historic Glebe homesteads and outbuildings were demolished to make way for suburban development in the early 1970s. Shamefully, even the cemetery was ordered to be bulldozed, despite the protestations of local families with relatives buried there and even by the bulldozer driver himself.

Related Photos

The Glebe ⧉

The Glebe, St Pauls ⧉

Click on the caption (⧉) to view photo details and attribution.


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