The teenage son of Chinese billionaire Wang Qinghui is the new owner of Bishopscourt, the Sydney mansion that was formerly the residence of the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney.
According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, the sprawling 16-room estate in Sydney’s ritzy Darling Point is now in the name of Caleb Wang, who is not yet 18 years old.
Wang Qinghui, 47, bought the faux Gothic mansion from the Anglican Church in 2016 for $18 million. A Herald search of NSW Land Registry Services documents revealed ownership was transferred from father to son in December 2018.
“It was just too large and expensive for us to maintain.” – Doug Marr
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The grand home was built in 1841 for the early settler Thomas Woolley and bought in 1846 by AMP Society co-founder Thomas Sutcliffe Mort. He sold it to the church in 1910 and it was extended in the 1930s and again in the 1950s. The property, which is listed on the Register of the National Estate, features a dining room with a capacity to entertain 50 guests, grand formal reception rooms and a chapel.
“It was just too large and expensive for us to maintain – it’s meant for a time when there’d be 10 to 20 servants carrying water around as it was built in the days before bathrooms. The scale was just too much,” a spokesman for the church, Registrar of the Diocese of Sydney Doug Marr, told the Herald.
The current Archbishop, Glenn Davies, now rents a house in Haberfield in the city inner west while a new home, with a church meeting room, is being planned for him near the University of Sydney.
“I asked if she would invite him [Wang] to church, but they didn’t come.” – Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen, Rector of St Mark’s Anglican Church, which is close by Bishopscourt, says he had bumped into a woman coming out of the property and, while chatting, had invited her to church.
“I asked if she would invite him [Wang] to church, but they didn’t come.
“It’s lived in, the gate is open sometimes and the garbage is put out.”
Jensen, whose father Peter Jensen lived in Bishopscourt from 2001 to 2013 when he was Archbishop of Sydney, said he had enjoyed lots of family occasions there and had stayed there for a couple of weeks before heading off to England. The property also hosted many diocesan conferences.
“He [Mort] gave the land for the rectory and the church and a number of other buildings that were part of that big estate.” – Michael Jensen
“It’s an extraordinary building. Upstairs there are a few apartments, and downstairs are more stately formal things like a huge dining room, a massive study and kitchen to put on big functions.”
He said his parents lived in a corner of the house upstairs – “you can’t spread out.”
“It was costing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to maintain.” – Michael Jensen
“There are some interesting back stories. The early owner, Thomas Mort, was one of the founders of St Mark’s. He owned the top of the hill and he gave the land for the rectory and the church and a number of other buildings that were part of that big estate, but it’s been subdivided and subdivided over the years.
“In the 2000s, the diocese sold off some of the land and built units and they made no money.
“My view is that they shouldn’t have sold and they didn’t sell it for a very good price, but it was costing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to maintain, but in typical fashion we don’t maintain early so then its becomes a money pit.”