The Hunter region's House of Broken Dreams

Aberglassyn (sometimes spelt Aberglasslyn) house began construction by George Hobler in c1840 and has been referred to as the Hunter's “house of broken dreams”. 

In 1844, Aberglassyn House was leased by William Nicholson, who eventually exercised his option to purchase it. The property remained the possession of Nicholson's descendants until 1962.


Aberglassyn House c1840

Hobler a stock man, grazier and landowner came to the Hunter Region in 1836 and bought the property, Aberglassyn situated five kilometres upstream from Maitland. 

He became a justice of the peace, and was letting the land to tenant farmers, played the part of the local squire and started to build the Georgian mansion now known as Aberglassyn House.

Situated high on a hill overlooking farmland and a picturesque bend in the Hunter River the house has stately charm and an old world feel. It's intended grandeur was never quite realised in its day.

Hobler became insolvent in 1846 and the mansion was advertised for sale in 1858 stating that Hobler had spent upwards of 20 000 pounds on the house alone.

The house included 20 spacious rooms, dining room, drawing room, extensive cellars, out buildings including a detached kitchen but was incomplete due to the bank crash which was known as the “starving forties” which in turn led to Hobler’s bankruptcy. 


Advertisement for the sale of
Aberglassyn House in the Maitland Mercury 1858

The house has had several owners over the decades but has stood derelict on various occasions. It is said cows used to wander through the large empty rooms until the windows were bricked up and doors bolted to deter vandalism. The spacious arched cellars were home only to a colony of bats.



The big empty sandstone house on top of the hill had all the qualities of a classic haunted house. 

*A former maid there in the late 1920s remembered once hearing heavy footsteps within, but a search revealed no one around. 

Decades later, in the 1970s, a new owner one night heard "ghastly footsteps and a coughing" but no one was visible on the flagstone veranda under the moonlight. At other times there was the faint sound of something being dragged along. 

The mystery was eventually solved with the simple discovery the pattering of feet belonged to a fox using the veranda as a shortcut and who would drag its dead prey, like rabbits, right by the windows.


The estate of Aberglassyn is believed by some to be an aboriginal sacred site and that corroborees took place below the house. 

Aboriginal ceremonies were often performed in places which were considered to have strong “spiritual energy” one could speculate that the spirits of the land were not happy with a large white man’s house built on sacred ground. 

Could this have led to the cursed history and ghostly manifestations of Aberglassyn house?


Other unusual events at Aberglassyn;

*Two Greyhounds killed by a swarm of bees in 1947.

*A small boy named Clery's leg was cut to the bone by the knife of a mowing machine in 1888. 

*A Durham X Cow gave birth to quad calves in 1952

*Drowning of a 12 year old boy while his father was fishing in the river in 1920.

*Farmer was fined 10 pounds for not controlling grasshoppers in 1954.


Today the farmland of "Aberglassyn" has been subdivided and is a major housing estate. Yet the spooky Aberglassyn Mansion maintains it's lonely vigil over the surrounding countryside. 





Newcastle Herald

Maitland Mercury

Newcastle Cultural Collections

NSW Cultural Collections