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Ensignton, Chrystobel Crescent

Grace Park was one of the first estates in Hawthorn. Michael Lynch, owner of the Rising Sun Hotel in Melbourne and leading Hawthorn pioneer, and his wife Julia (nee Grace) bought land bounded by Power Street, Glenferrie & Burwood Roads and the present north back fences of Mary Street in 1846 and 1848. Lynch's will provided that the estate was to be retained by the family in perpetuity. As a result blocks in the Grace Park estate were originally offered as leasehold by Henry Byron Moore who leased the estate in 1884 from Lynch's son.

Leasehold tenure did not prove popular and by 1895 the property had reverted to the Lynch family. Remaining blocks were sold after 1906, which explains the mix of Victorian and Edwardian architecture in Grace Park.

The Hawthorn Heritage Study undertaken by conservation architect Meredith Gould in 1992 assessed Ensignton, the picturesque Italianate villa at 51 Chrystobel Crescent, to be amongst the best examples of its kind in Hawthorn. This house symbolises the affluent housing push which consolidated Hawthorn as a garden suburb in the 1880's boom. The timber lych-gate with its fretwork is also of heritage significance although moved some years ago from its original corner position. Few others survive in Hawthorn. Note also the roof balcony (widow's walk) and flagpole.

Robert C Edwards, tea merchant, was the first owner of Ensignton, built in 1889 from local Hawthorn brick. Gould considered it likely that the house was designed by Beswicke who also designed Kawarau (405 Tooronga Road, now Alia College). Similarities include the slender windows to the floor with lower panel. The unusual timber verandah decoration is complemented by the fretwork incorporated in the gable barge and the turned droppers. Original features include the elaborate stained glass in and around the front door.

The garden of the property originally extended on to land to the west (now no 49) and the name Ensignton can be still seen on the tower (outside the main bedroom) facing that way.

In more recent times the house has been extended to the rear to provide a new kitchen and family area taking advantage of the northern aspect. A newly landscaped back yard now includes a pool and entertainment area. Behind, are the original stables which are now self - contained accommodation (or a teenagers' retreat) on one side and a garage on the other, with cobblestones between.

These notes have been prepared with the kind assistance of the owners.