St Aubins Arms

St Aubins Arms

Featured Image: St Aubins Arms 1872 Note: shingle roof and inn sign with light attached.                             Photograph by Beaufoy Merlin

Arguably the most interesting house in Scone is also the oldest. In 1836 the Dangar Brothers Thomas and Henry leased 6 acres of land at St Aubins Village from Captain William Dumaresq. By then the Great North Road commissioned by Dumaresq’s brother-in-law Governor Darling was in constant use and became a busy thoroughfare between the Hunter Valley (Patrick Plains = Singleton) and New England (= Liverpool Plains).

Early Government law required that a wayside inn be built at 25 mile intervals along highways to allow rest and hospitality after a hard days’ riding. Ever on the alert for commercial opportunity the Dangar brothers constructed the first Inn and Store on site beginning in 1836 and finally completed in February 1837. The first name of the Inn was ‘The Bird in Hand’. Later it became the ‘St Aubins Inn’ and then the ‘St Aubins Arms’. George Chivers and his wife Elizabeth settled there in 1838 as innkeepers. ‘Chivers’ was the name chosen by the Bain family during their occupation from the early 1950s to the early 1980s.

The Inn and Store secured a place in the history of NSW in a dramatic manner at 7 o’clock in the morning 21 December 1840. Seven bushrangers under the command of Edward Davis (‘The Jewboy Gang’) raided the Inn and Store and killed a young Scot John Graham. They were famously apprehended and captured at the gunfight at Doughboy Hollow (Ardglen) by celebrated Magistrate Edward Denny Day. Murray Bain told Lionel Israel of Segenhoe a bushranger was shot outside his house. ‘That’s nothing. One lives there now’ was Lionel’s instant retort! LBI did not like paying veterinary bills.

Over the next 180 years there have been many reiterations of the illustrious old dwelling; firstly as an Inn and then a private residence. ‘Chivers’ enshrines more of Scone’s enduring history than any other building. I actually spent the first few nights of my new life in Australia there during the first week of October 1967. The exponential increase in traffic, especially the heavy loads have detracted from the aesthetic (heritage) ambience. The opening of the Scone Bypass (2020) will bring a 98% reduction from the approximate annual loading of 6 million traffic movements along the New England Highway of which c. 20% are very heavy vehicles.

Acknowledgements: ‘St Aubins Arms’ by Mace Bain in ‘The Inn, The Dentists and The School’ by Mace Bain, Roger Humphreys BDS and Gillian Blandford Hayes; Federation Publication, No 2.; Published by Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society 1998.