This mourning cover was sent from England to Mrs. Earl, Care of Revd G.N. Woodd, Denham Court, New South Wales with a 6d lilac Great Britain stamp (S.G. 97, Scott 45) cancelled with a duplex C/ PENRITH/ JU 18/ 67 with the numeral ‘606′ (Figure 1).
The reverse shows a red transit F.C./ LONDON/ JU 18/ 67 postmark, an unframed transit SYDNEY/ AU 13/ 1867/ A/ NEW SOUTH WALES and an arrival postmark LIVERPOOL/ AU 13/ 1867/ N.S.W. [Type 1A] (Figure 2).
Denham Court post office which was 14 km from Liverpool had opened in 1862 and the Type 1A postmark was in use to 1880, but there was no evidence of its reception postmark. The identity of the recipient of the mourning cover, Mrs Earl has not been found, but she may well have been a congregant of Rev. Woodd.
Denham Court was named after the 500 acre (200ha) land grant of Richard Atkins, in 1810. Atkins was the colony’s Judge Advocate, and he named it after his ancestral home in England. Atkins was a womaniser and alcoholic, and he eventually found himself in debt to a Captain Richard Brooks and Denham Court was transferred into his ownership. Atkins left for England, never to return, while Brooks acquired four adjoining land grants and brought his wife and family out from England in 1814. At first they lived in Sydney, but by 1825 the family had moved into a home at Denham Court. Within years the famous colonial architect, John Verge, had added elaborate wings and a new central section. The historic house at Denham Court is seen in Figure 3.
Brooks had a desire to be “master of all he surveyed” and wanted to recreate the typical English country estate, with himself as the lord of the manor. His panoramic hillside estate was one of Sydney’s most vibrant social centres of the 1820s and 1830s. Captain Brooks’ “grand vision” of being the English squire was such that he ordered a private chapel to be built on the estate. Church Road now leads to this St Mary the Virgin Church, which is supposedly based on a similar structure at Denham in England. However the Captain barely lived long enough to see his dreams come to fruition. A photograph of the church is seen in Figure 4.
Reverend George Napoleon Woodd and his wife Caroline nee Rust were both born in England and they both arrived in Sydney in 1837. He became one of the early rectors of the St. Mary the Virgin Church at Denham Court, but very little is known of him. Whereas his youngest son, Henry Alexander Woodd, one of 16 children of George and his wife, is recorded in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, and he was born at Denham Court in 1865. After a private education and graduation with a B.A. at Sydney University, he became a deacon in 1888 and was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1889. Henry Woods first curacy was at All Saints Church, Woollahra, where his father George had retired to from the Church in Denham Court. To-day, Woodd Road has been named in honour of the Reverend G.N. Woodd, who was an early rector of St Mary the Virgin Church.
Most of the information concerning Denham Court and the Woodd family is derived from the A.D.B. and from Wikipedia. Thanks to John Courtis of Hong Kong who alerted me to the cover.