The story of Balcombe Heights Estate began in 1746 when George Best was born in Kent, England.
Best was a farmer who was convicted of stealing goods in 1790 and was deported to Australia.
Like many convicts at this time, Best was given a land grant of 30 acres about five miles north of Parramatta in 1796.
He was granted an absolute pardon a few months later and, as a result, expanded his holdings to 185 acres.
Governor Lachlan Macquarie visted the Baulkham Hills and Toongabbie districts in 1810 and praised Best about the excellent state of his farm when compared to many other farms in the area.
Governor Macquarie was “highly gratified” that “Best and Pye, [were] two very industrious respectable settlers, who have their farms well cultivated and in most excellent order, with good offices, and comfortable decent dwelling houses.”
When Best passed away in 1836, he had 3000 acres in Baulkham Hills and the Southern Tablelands to his name.
Later on, his land in Baulkham Hills was acquired by the Masonic Lodge.
The next chapter in the story of Balcombe Heights Estate takes place during the First World War.
The estate was deemed the perfect location for an orphanage and school, to cater for the many children left parentless by the war.
A man called William Thompson began a building program to make this a reality, funded by the Masons, in 1918.
The William Thompson Masonic School was opened on the fourth anniversary of Armistice Day.
The story continues into the Second World War, when the children who resided in the school were moved to the countryside, to make way for the buildings to be converted into a hospital for soldiers.
The school was reopened in 1947 when the children returned from the countryside.
The William Thompson Masonic School continued at Balcombe Heights Estate into the 1970s with 360 students, many of them residing in the dormitories.
The land was purchased by Council in 1977 and presently the buildings are allocated to groups involved in community service and can be hired for events.
The story of Balcombe Heights is ongoing and if you wish to be a part of it, please contact Council to hold your next function there!
For more information or to book, please click here.