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Paranormal Australia - Do You Believe?

In October 1888, grazier and businessman William Charles Payne bought land near Camden in an area called Narellan in southwest Sydney. He named his newly acquired property "Studley Park", after the original Studley Park located in Yorkshire, England. In 1889, construction of a grand Victorian mansion began. Designed by A. L. & G. McCredie, a prosperous architectural and engineering firm, it became known as "Payne's Folley".

Unfortunately, due to financial difficulties, Payne was forced to sell the house to pay off his debt to the house's architect, a man named Francis Buckle. Buckle used Studley Park House as a weekend retreat until it was sold to Dr Henry Oliver, the headmaster of The Camden Grammar School in 1902. The school had originally been located at St Helen's Park House in Campbelltown.

On October 15, 1909, fourteen year old student Ray Blackstone and 5 of his fellow boarders decided to go for a swim in a nearby damn. Despite being told time and time again about the dangers of swimming in the dam, the boys ignored the warning. During an attempt to swim to one side of the damn and back, Ray began to struggle. Despite the assistance of his friend, Sydney Langford, the boy drowned. His lifeless body was brought ashore by senior students and it is reputed to have been stored in the cold, dark cellar of Studley Park House, awaiting burial.

The school was sold in 1919 to Reverend Charles Herbert Palmer and continued to operate until 1933 when it was packed up and moved to the home of Parliamentary Member for Sydney, William Bede Dalley, in Manly.

Studley Park was sold to Arthur Adolphus Gregory, sales manager of Twentieth Century Fox Australia. Gregory furbished Studley Park House in Art Deco style and converted the student's dining room into a theatrette. A keen golfer, he had a nine hole course designed for the land surrounding the house. A further nine holes were later added and the original stables block/classroom was converted into the golf club.

In 1939, tragedy struck when Gregory's son died in the theatrette from appendicitis.

When World War II began the property was taken over by the Department of Defence and became The Eastern Command Training School. Accommodation was increased to house the 280 staff and students attending the school's courses. Lieutenant A. R. Cutler, a future Governor of New South Wales, was one of the first students to graduate. In 1951 the first intake of the Women's Royal Australian Army Corps began their training at Studley Park.

Today, Studley Park House and surrounding grounds and golf course are owned by the Camden Golf Club. Even in it's weathered and rundown state, the house is a magnificent piece of architecture. The beautiful stained glass windows, ornate fireplaces and breathtaking views add to its precious historical value. There are plans to restore the house once sufficient funds are raised.


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