The history of the Carclew house and grounds dates back to the very beginnings of European settlement in South Australia. The acre of land on which this impressive building stands is on the traditional land of the Aboriginal Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains.
It was originally sold in the first Adelaide land sales of 1837, and was resold numerous times until, in 1861, James Chambers purchased the site which contained a simple two-storey brick dwelling. The wall surrounding the original house is still standing, as are the stone stables along the northern boundary.
James Chambers sponsored the expedition of surveyor John McDouall Stuart, who successfully crossed this vast continent for the first time that was unknown to the European eye. The starting point for the journey was Carclew House, and a plaque on the front garden wall commemorates the event.
In 1862, the property was acquired by Sir Hugh Dixson (Dennison), who demolished the original house. In 1897, Dennison built the present, far grander home.
In 1908, Dennison sold his home to Sir Langdon Bonython, who renamed the building ‘Carclew’ after the area in Cornwall where his ancestors had lived. It remained the Bonython family home until 1965 when it was purchased by the Adelaide City Council.
In 1971, it was announced by The Premier, Don Dunstan, that Carclew would become a centre for performing arts activities by or for young people. In 1976 the centre expanded to become a place of multi-arts activity for young people. To reflect this, the name Carclew Youth Arts Centre was adopted.
The centre has since played host to many exciting youth arts events including Carclew’s Artery and Off The Couch programs, Blak Nite and Nunga Days, Come Out Youth Arts Festival events and international youth arts conferences.
In October 2006 Swanbury Penglase Architects prepared an extensive report on the condition of Carclew House – making a series of recommendations to ensure the long-term structural viability of the building. These works were undertaken by the Government of South Australia and completed in October 2009.
Carclew House and grounds are available for hire for functions, filming and photography projects. Rates negotiable for artists aged 26 and under.
(08) 8267 5111