|Oatlands was a grant in1823. The house was built in the 1830s by Captain Percy Simpson, an army officer and former Governor of Paxos. He
came to Australia in 1822 to take up an appointment as commandant of the convicts’
settlement at Wellington. (The Bathurst Wellington Road was known as Simpson’s Road because of the frequent trips by Mr Simpson in his
gig). Simpson became Superintendent of the Great North Road and later the Colony’s Crown Lands Commissioner. One of his sons, Sir George
Bowen Simpson, born at Oatlands became the Judge of the colony at the age of 28.
In 1840 Oatlands was sold to James Brindley Bettington, who reached Sydney in 1827 preceded by a memorial from the London firm of John
Bettington & Sons to Viscount Goderich, informing him that one of the partners was to reside in the Colony. He was to be provided with funds
to make cash advancements to the Colonists on the security of the wool intended for England, to assist the infant settlement to promote the growth of wool in New South Wales. The memorial was transmitted to Governor Darling, together with a request for a grant of lands.
Bettington started a business in George Street with wharves at Darling Harbour. He became interested in sheep breeding with William Lawson, the explorer, whose daughter he
married and who was the first bride to be carried over the threshold of Oatlands House.
James Brindley Bettington started a Merino stud with high class Saxon stock, later improved with Silesian Rams. This stud was one of the foundation studs of the Australian
Wool Industry. He added to his estates, represented pastoral districts in the Legislative Council and on his death in 1857 his son James Brindley the second inherited his estate. The son and family continued to reside at Oatlands until he died in 1915 at the age of 78.
Oatlands House was originally a low sandstone cottage with flagstone verandahs and courtyards as they exist today. The original kitchen and servants quarters still stand today. In 1840, architect Ambrose Hallen built the two storey additions joining the two buildings. This beautifully elliptical central block with curving verandah, columns, lantern recesses,
etc are the original drawing, dining and morning rooms.
Built by convict labour, the floors are made from cedar grown on the property and the sandstone quarried nearby. Oatlands still
have fine cellars reputedly used for the storage of rum during Rum Traffics Era and one can imagine them also being used for
chastisement of difficult convicts. The small pool in the old courtyard was built from uncovered cells, the marble fireplaces were
brought on the convict ships from England. A marble fireplace has been obtained from the home of Conan Doyle, of Sherlock Holmes
fame, to replace a similar one removed from Oatlands House by vandals.
Oatlands appears to have been named after Oatlands Park in England, close to the land of Lord Dundas, after whom this area
is named. His memorial stands in St. Pauls Cathedral in London. Theory that the name was derived from the first sowing of the
oats grown in Australia is not confirmed but the Mitchell Library does record that wines from Oatlands vineyards won a prize in
France in the 1860s.