When the Church Reserve was sold in 1828, publican George Williams was one of the buyers. He commissioned Edward Hallen to design Glebe’s first “gentleman’s residence”. Named for Williams’ English birthplace, Hereford House was completed in 1829. Within its ten-acre fenced paddocks were a well, an orchard, a double coach house, dovecotes, pigsties and fowl and cow sheds. Architect John Verge made improvements to the house in 1832 and 1834. Its dining and drawing rooms were each thirty feet long.
Williams never moved into his new home. The property was first rented by Attorney-General John Kinchela and run with convict labour. Cooks, housemaids, laundresses and needlewomen were brought from the Female Factory; male assignees worked outdoors and as grooms. One serial absconder received 50 lashes while under Kinchela’s control.
Chemist Ambrose Foss bought Hereford House but within three years had moved into Forest Lodge. New owner merchant William Hirst was soon in financial strife, his problems exacerbated by the suicide of his brother (a servant heard a gunshot in the bush but assumed someone was shooting for sport). In 1844 Hirst sold Hereford House to solicitor George Rogers.
During the ownership of ironmonger Thomas Woolley 1847-58 the house was filled with pictures and bookcases, and French doors opened onto a garden planted with roses, tropical plants and tea, coffee and spice bushes. Green parrots screeched overhead and runaway convicts remained a bushranging threat.
After a series of occupiers (including merchant Joshua Young who added rare plants to the garden) Hereford House was bought by judge William Hattam Wilkinson in the 1870s. Its grounds reduced to 1.5 acres, the property remained in Wilkinson family ownership until 1911. It subsequently became a teachers’ training college. The building was demolished and the site became a municipal rest park in the 1930s.